In an innovativeuse of UK tax funding, Civilian Content, the publicly-listed parent of salesoperation The Works, has secured development financing through a joint venturewith financing outfit SureFire.

Projects set tobenefit from the deal include River Queen, an epic New Zealand-setadventure expected to star Samantha Morton. Civilian chief Chris Auty and DonReynolds are producing, with production scheduled to start next month. Also inthe works is Silk, adapted from the international best seller by AlessandroBaricco, which will be directed by Francois Girard and produced by DomenicoProcacci and Nadine Luque.

The jointventure, which runs until December 2006, affords Civilian an initial £1.2m indevelopment cash through a combination of financing including tax-driveninvestment and direct, non-tax money from a group of private investors. Thetax-driven part of the deal is one of the first examples of film companiesaccessing development cash through Section 41, a UK tax regulation similar tothe popular but soon-to-expire Section 48.

Auty said thatthe cash will go to films in the later stages of development that can beproduced over the next year and a half. Other upcoming Civilian titles include AnEducation, a bitter-sweet coming of age story written by best-sellingnovelist Nick Hornby from a memoir by journalist Lynn Barber.

Civilian, whichwill use the cash to help replace its recently-expired National Lotteryfranchise, will have an option to sell the films developed under the deal, aswell raise further financing for them.

"It's early days,but it is a good sign," Auty told Screen International. "The investors arehappy and so is the production community here."

As part of thedeal, SureFire owners James Atherton and Michael Henry are to join the Civilianboard as non-executive directors. SureFire will also take a 2.38% shareholdingin Civilian.

"This is animportant first step towards securing and enhancing our production, financingand sales activities in the medium term," Auty said. "Michael and James bringfurther valuable production, financing and corporate expertise to the board,and our success to date with the SureFire Development Funds, amply demonstratesthe potential of this new joint venture."

Civilian's shareshardened 0.5p to 10.5p in recognition of the joint venture, which comes as TheWorks has two titles in competition at Cannes -Consequenze Dell'Amoreand Clean.