Screen Aus simplifies co-pro guidelines

21 October, 2014 by Don Groves

Screen Australia has responded to industry concerns that the rules for official co-productions are overly complex and inflexible.

CEO Graeme Mason has unveiled revised Australian International Co-production Program guidelines which he described as simpler and more streamlined.


And Mason signalled he will initiate discussions at next month’s Screen Forever Conference Open Policy Forum to make further improvements to the guidelines, including the best way for the agency to assess Australian creative contribution.

At present those elements are measured in two ways: a points test of Australian personnel, and by calculating the Australian spends. 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.”

Among the major revisions, 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.

Several new tools being made available on Screen Australia’s website to supplement the guidelines 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.

“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,” Mason said during a keynote address at Ausfilm Week in London on Tuesday.

“The advantages will include access to support from both countries, increasing the ambitions of projects by aiming for bigger budgets, bigger returns and bigger audiences.

“We’ve reworked the Australian International Co-production Program guidelines 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.”

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.

South Korea will become a co-pro treaty partner once the Korean-Australian free trade agreement, which was signed in April, is in force

Among the current and recent co-pros are Alexs Stadermann’s Maya the Bee Movie (Germany), Anton Corbijn’s Life (Germany/Canada), Brodie Higgs’ Elixir (Germany), Michael Rowe’s Rest Home (Canada), Roar Film's dramatised convict doco Death or Liberty (Ireland) and Goalpost Pictures’ six-part high-concept sci-fi series which has the working title Project CM (New Zealand).

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. The treaty with the UK has generated 42 projects.