London- and South Africa-based production outfit Spier Films is launching a new film fund available for international productions shooting in South Africa from January 2011.

The company has decided to launch the new fund following the news that South Africa’s production rebate is to double from $1.5m to $3m per film. It will offer equity and gap finance as well as cash flowing the rebate on up to three films a year. The fund, which is backed by a private investor, is uncapped and ongoing.

Spier said it intended to “maximise the amount available from South Africa by investing in film or TV projects with good prospects of return in the international market.”

It is part of the company’s aim to foster more international co-productions, by making South Africa a more appealing place to shoot.

The fund will consider fiction projects where the South African budgeted expenditure is over $2.2m (for documentary projects this spend must be over $300,000). In addition the film must qualify as a South African film, either by virtue of being an official co-production or by spending over 75% of its budget in South Africa.

Spier’s current slate includes Black Butterflies starring Carice Van Houten and Rutger Hauer, which is being sold by Bavaria for release in 2011 and Master Harold And The Boys with Ving Rhames and Freddie Highmore based on a play by Athol Fugard. Past credits include the 2005 Golden Bear winner U-Carmen eKhayelitsha.

 “Although we are continuing to develop quality South African projects, we are now looking to diversify and invest in films which may or may not be African stories, but which we can co-produce in South Africa using our incredible locations and world renowned crews,” said Michael Auret, producer and MD of Spier Films.

“We hope that our fund will provide international produces with that little bit extra to get their films into production,” he added.