Screen Aus reviews new co-production guidelines

21 November, 2014 by Don Groves

Development may count for the first time towards the points test to determine whether film and TV drama projects qualify as international co-productions.

That’s one of the proposed changes to the Australian International Co-production Program guidelines which are being reviewed by Screen Australia.


Screen Australia released the revised guidelines last month and the agency held a two-part forum at SPA’s Screen Forever conference in Melbourne on Wednesday to discuss how the guidelines calculate the Australian creative contribution to a film.

Alex Sangston, SA’s senior manager, producer offset and co-production, told IF that attendees at the forum were “broadly supportive” of the points test which determines whether a project’s creative and financial contributions are balanced, the key requirement for co-pros.

“Producers see the test as a useful bargaining chip to keep the ‘Australian-ness’ of a project, but some want the test to be more flexible,” he said.

Hence the proposal to allocate one point to development. Producers must achieve the same proportion of Australian points as the equivalent Australian financial contribution.

Under the new guidelines the application requirements for provisional approval have been relaxed, enabling projects to be submitted for assessment without all financial agreements finalised. This removes the need for producers to seek a letter of preliminary compliance, making the certification process less onerous.

Sangston demonstrated a new tool on Screen Australia’s website which enables filmmakers to quickly determine whether their projects can qualify as co-pros.

He said co-pro projects will be evaluated at an earlier stage so approvals will be issued before producers seek production investment. He stressed that SA’s focus is to drive the growth of co-pros and to remove red tape in the administration of the program.

He hopes to complete the consultation process on the creative test in time to amend the guidelines in the first or second quarter of next year.

Australia has official co-pro treaty arrangements with Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Singapore, South Africa and the UK, and MOUs with France and New Zealand. Treaties are being negotiated with India, Malaysia and Denmark. South Korea will become a partner once the Korean-Australian free trade agreement, which was signed in April, is in force.

The Australian International Co-production Program has advanced the production of more than 150 film and television projects with 11 partner countries since its introduction in 1986.