Vancouver-based production house Anagram Pictures and Toronto-based distributor Maple Pictures have established a multi-year, multi-picture output deal as part of Telefilm Canada's Slate Development Pilot Programme.

The first two pictures in the slate are ecological thriller The Thaw and sci-fi thriller Falling Awake. Anagram made a critical if not a commercial splash with the zombie spoof Fido, starring Carrie-Anne Moss and Billy Connolly.

'Anagram's slate shows a dedication to producing both commercial and critically acclaimed fare for Canadian and worldwide audiences alike,' said Maple co-president Brad Pelman. He called the deal 'the first material step' in Maple's strategy to focus more attention on Canadian production.

The deal was negotiated by Pelman and Ian Goggins of Maple and Anagram's Blake Corbet and Mary Anne Waterhouse.

Said Telefilm executive director Wayne Clarkson, 'What's innovative about this program is that we're financing the production company and not the project.' He said the strategy provides greater certainty of support and autonomy for recipient companies while attaching them to established distributors from the development stage. Maple was already attached to The Thaw in the summer of 2007.

Added Anagram's Corbet, 'Telefilm is showing again that they have faith in us. The Canadian film business is at an amazing juncture. We're proving that art and commerce can work together.'

The Slate Development Pilot Program provides applicant production companies with a corporate line of credit over the course of the three-year program. The inaugural pact, between William Vince's Infinity Pictures and distributor Seville Pictures, was unveiled during Berlin.