Filmmakers from Australia, the UK and Australia's other official co-production partner countries will benefit from a simpler and streamlined Australian International Co-production Programme, announced by the CEO of Screen Australia, Graeme Mason, during his keynote address at Ausfilm Week in London.
Graeme Mason, who is in the UK to encourage more co-production ventures, said, “Australia has a lot to offer – diverse locations, talented writers and directors, skilled crew, world-class performers and a 40 per cent rebate for feature films made as official co-productions.”
“In an environment where we are all facing reduced funds to produce screen content, it is a logical step for us to make it easier for Australian screen practitioners to collaborate with international partners and vice versa. The advantages of this for the industry will include access to support from both countries, increasing the ambitions of projects by aiming for bigger budgets, bigger returns and bigger audiences.”
Feedback from industry indicated that the Australian guidelines for the co-production programme were too complex and inflexible. Screen Australia has responded to enhance flexibility by relaxing the application requirements for Provisional Approval, enabling projects to be submitted for assessment without all financial agreements finalised. This will remove the need for producers to seek a Letter of Preliminary Compliance, making the certification process less onerous.
“We've reworked the Australian International Co-production Programme guidelines, released in revised form today, to make them clearer and more useful in helping producers navigate the system. These initial changes are an important first step in capitalising on the great opportunities offered by co-production, with less red tape, reduced process and strong benefits to industry,” said Mason.
Several new tools have also been developed and made available on Screen Australia's website to supplement the guidelines. These aim to provide filmmakers with simple, user-friendly ways of exploring the key terms of the various co-production treaties, deciphering the choices available and monitoring their project's eligibility status.
Strong co-productions can extend audience opportunities for film and television content, particularly with partners such as the UK who share the challenges faced in the English-language markets dominated by US product. Australia's long-standing co-production treaty with the UK has been in force for almost 25 years, during which time 42 projects have been co-produced, including recent examples Banished, The Railway Man and Oranges and Sunshine, drawing on talent from both sides and resonating on cinema screens in both territories.
Co-productions are about achieving a balance between the creative and financial elements contributed by each country. Currently Screen Australia measures ‘Australian creative contribution' in two ways: with a points test of Australian personnel and by calculating the Australian spend. Mason said, “We are exploring ways to do this better, but changing our approach to assessing creative contribution will have many implications so we will need to take more time and consult with industry about the options.”
Discussions will commence this month at the Screen Forever Conference Open Policy Forum, Help us help you, about further improvements that can be made to the guidelines, including the best way for Screen Australia to assess creative contribution.
The Australian International Co-production Programme has advanced the production of more than 150 film and television projects with 11 different partner countries since its introduction in 1986. Statistics on co-production activity to date and profiles of our co-production partner countries are available, along with the revised programme guidelines, at www.screenaustralia.gov.au/coproduction
Official co-productions involving Australia must be made under a co-production treaty or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Australia and another country, and jointly approved by both Screen Australia and its equivalent agency in that country.
*Australia has official co-production treaty arrangements with Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Singapore, South Africa and the United Kingdom, and MOUs with France and New Zealand. South Korea will also be able to operate as a Co-production Treaty partner once the Korean-Australian Free Trade Agreement is in force.
Source, Screen Australia