In the midst of Ausfilm Week in London, Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason has used his keynote address to usher in a simplified approach to co-productions for Australia’s official co-pro partners, of which NZ is one.
Ausfilm Week is all about the partners, hence holding it elsewhere, and offers the Australian industry plenty of opportunity to promote its offer, not least the 40% rebate for feature films made as official co-productions.
Screen Australia was recently one of those organisations whose budget was dramatically sliced by government, so looking elsewhere for cash makes plenty of sense. Australians’ lack of love for local theatrical fare is well-known. The new scheme looks to assist titles seeking higher-budget opportunities and, it hopes, higher box office numbers and returns.
The road to Provisional Approval has been simplified to allow projects to assessed before all financial agreements are finalised. Mason called the changes “a first step”. At next month’s Screen Producers Australia conference, Screen Forever, there’ll be a session Help us help you to discuss further opportunities for improvement.
Mason noted that Australia’s 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”. The NZ-Australia agreement, in force since 1994, has seen five projects completed over 20 years. Prior to the agreement, the two countries took seven years to make five co-productions.
Australia has co-production agreements in place with 13 countries, plus one with South Korea expected to be concluded by the end of the year. NZ has 15 agreements and is negotiating with a further three countries.