The UK Film Council's Premiere Fund is investing £500,000 in acclaimed director Mike Leigh's Untitled 03, currently in development.

Details of the subject of the film, produced by Simon Channing-Williams of Thin Man Films and set to shoot in 2003, are typically sketchy. Traditionally, Leigh does not work to a full script, focusing instead on an improvised working relationship with his cast before shooting starts.

The Premiere Fund has also folded £500,000 into a family-oriented film based on E Nesbit's children's story Five Children And It, directed by John Stephenson, head of Jim Henson's Creature Workshop in London and Los Angeles.

Stephenson previously directed an animated version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, and has worked as creative supervisor for Jim Henson's Creature Shop on Lost In Space and The English Patient. Producers are Lisa Henson and Kristine Belson. David Solomons is the scriptwriter.

The Premiere Fund, which has an annual budget of £10m, has also channelled £50,000 of preliminary production costs into Riverchild Films' Braids, Twists And Tales. The sibling rivalry story is set in the "ghetto fabulous" world of black beauty salons and is written by new screenwriter Abigail Abban-Mensah. Stella Nwimo produces. Riverchild recently received funding from the Film Council's Development Fund.

The Film Council's New Cinema Fund has also given £10,000 to When I Fall In Love, a pilot project written and directed by Rory Flynn. Sheryl Crown of Rubicon Pictures produces.