Aiming to keep asmany doors as possible open to producers while channeling funding through aselect few companies, the UK Film Council has stipulated that 30% of investmentunder its new super slate deals must go to third parties.

Successful bidsfor the development and overhead deals will oversee up to £1.5m in NationalLottery cash over three years, which they are required to match. Guidelinespublished yesterday envisage winners forging umbrella arrangements with thirdparty producers both in the UK and overseas.

"Suchrelationships are expected to be in place with a minimum of one other UKproduction company, but applicants are actively encouraged to haverelationships with European mainland and US production partners," the councilsaid.

Up to 20% of themoney may be used as working capital for overheads. The rest must go ondeveloping individual film projects.

The initiativehas had the UK scrambling to link up for bids. Producers are eyeing deals withbroadcasters, sales companies and distributors, in order to meet councildemands that applicants show a link with the marketplace.

Civilian Content,the parent of sales company The Works, yesterday emerged as a strong potentialbid when it announced a joint venture with financier SureFire. The deal yieldsan initial £1.2m in development cash, which the company could use as matchingfunding.

"This new roundof slate funding is designed to enable companies from all areas of thefilm-making chain to get involved in development and to bring fresh approachesinto the development arena," said Jenny Borgars, who oversees the slate dealsas the council's head of development.