Co-productions may open up opportunities to UK film-makers that are restricted by thelimitationsinlocal film finance, the third International Screenwriters Festival in Cheltehnam was told.

Producer Mike Downey of Film and Music Entertainmentsaid international deals were an opportunity for UK film-makers to sidestep the usual cornerstone funders of British film: Channel 4, the BBC and the UK Film Council.

'By being able to reach out to other countries, you can build projects without being victim to the homogeneity of thinking, the thinking that goes, 'What does Channel 4 like this week.''

He also took the opportunity to attack the UK's new tax credit, suggesting it is a disincentive to co-productions with its bias towards shooting in the UK.

'This legislation has been made clearly to help the American studios get into Pinewood.' He said. 'I don't believe in using UK government money to support US studios and publicly listed companies.'

Speaking later the same day, Jane Tranter, controller of BBC Fiction, which incorporates BBC Films, also encouraged her audience to exploit co-production opportunities in TV drama and film.

'If you set it internationally, you get international funding. It's about asking you to be much more ambitious. We should take this opportunity to set drama on a bigger canvas.'

Ambition also featured in her checklist for projects likely to be backed by the BBC. 'The way to get commissioned is to be original, fresh and ambitious in a way that no one else has been.'