The UK Film Council has extended its deadline forapplications for "super slate" development funding by three weeks,from September 10 to September 30 2004.

This shift is seen by many asa direct response to the criticisms voiced by UK producers' organisationPACT about how the slate funding scheme was set up. Earlier this month, PACTpredicted that the new slate scheme would "destabilise the market."

The UK Film Council has nowsought to reassure disgruntled producers that rules governing script to screen "conversion"rates (among the most contentious topics in the on-going dispute between PACTand the Film Council) will not be as stringent as first thought.

Producers had feared that anycompany which failed to push at least one of its projects into production bythe end of the first year would automatically have its funding cut off. This,the Film Council insists, is not the case. As long as a company can meet theother criteria set in the "Annual Performance Review" and can proveit is driving its projects forward as quickly as it can, it will retain itsfinancing.

"They (the producers)understand now that we're being flexible," a Film Councilspokesperson commented. "We want them to convert because that's thewhole ethos of the Development project, but we're not just there to setcompanies up and then tear their money away."

The Film Council promises itwill take into account the type of productions that are in development. Itwould be rash, for instance, to expect the development of an animated projectto be as rapid as that of a live action film.

Whatever other reservationsproducers have about the new scheme, it is unlikely there will be furtherchanges to the Film Council guidelines. Even with the three week extension, thedeadline for applications is only two months away.

The idea behind the so-called"super slate" scheme is to award eight applicants (slate companies)amounts ranging from between £250,000 per year to £500,000 per yearfor up to three years, subject to the annual performance review for each year.The winning applicants are required to match any public funding they receive.They can use up to 20% of the public funding they receive for overheads. 30% ofthe annual total slate fund must go to third parties.