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NZ & Canada renew co-pro treaty

NZ and Canada have renewed the co-production treaty first established in 1987.

The new treaty was enacted at a signing ceremony in Toronto to coincide with the Toronto International Film Festival. High Commissioner Daniel Mellsop did the honours for NZ with Melanie Joly, Canada’s Minister of Heritage.

The most recent feature made under the existing treaty was 2014’s Turbo Kid (pictured, top), produced by Ant Timpson and developed from one of the entries to the ABCs of Death short film competition. The treaty has only been used three times in last decade, the other two productions both being childrens’ TV series: Jane & The Dragon and Turbo Dogs.

While the treaty hasn’t driven much work to production recently, there are ongoing production relationships between the two countries. NZ On Air has worked with the Canada Media Fund for the last two years to run the Canada-New Zealand Digital Media Fund, which supports bilateral online work. Niki Caro is about to direct the feature-length premiere of Canada Broadcasting Co-Netflix TV series Anne.

The new version of the Canada-NZ co-production treaty makes some changes, including the introduction of a requirement for distribution/broadcasting commitments in both countries before the co-production is completed. There’s a new definition of key creatives (eight positions) and the ability for one of the key positions to be filled by non-party national. On high budget projects, two of the eight key creatives can be from non-party countries.

The minimum financial contribution of either producer comes down from 20% of budget to 15%, which lowers the bar to entry and will encourage some producers to take another look at projects they might not have previously considered to have co-production potential. The changes also make it easier to work with producers from other countries, notably the US which delivers a lot of TV production work to Canada.

The treaty will now go to the Canadian parliament to be ratified and is likely to be in effect by early next year.

Elsewhere in Toronto, NZ participation in this year’s festival events is limited to the selection of features Mahana (as The Patriarch) and The Rehearsal, which also opens here this week and picked up a postive review in Toronto from IndieWire’s Michael Nordine. Fraser Brown and Nadia Maxwell are selected for the Producers Lab.