Oz, Singapore ink co-prod'n pact

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SYDNEY -- The governments of Australia and Singapore signed a new co-production treaty Friday, just 10 days after China and Australia entered into a similar film and TV production partnership.

Australian Arts Minister George Brandis and Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo signed the agreement as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting taking place in Sydney this week.

The treaty covers film, TV and new media and ensures that both governments' film and television production incentives will be available to projects made as co-Prods..

"Australia and Singapore already enjoy a strong bilateral relationship and this treaty with the government of Singapore will further encourage creative and business collaboration between our film and new media industries," Sen. Brandis said.

Brandis added that Australia will benefit from Singapore's active marketing of its film sector in Asia, "which is an increasingly important region for the global film and television industry."

Singapore's Yeo said that the co-production treaty will promote both Australia and Singapore as premiere destinations for creative filmmaking.

"Singapore is becoming a global media hub, and this co-production agreement will spur greater industry collaboration between both countries," Yeo said. "It will encourage Australian and Singaporean companies to share production resources and help both countries develop their international networks."

Other industry officials said that Singapore is one of the key territories in the region and provides a stepping-stone for access to markets including China, India and Korea.

"The caliber of co-production partners and companies is strong, and screen industry finance that Singapore firms are attracting from sources like venture capital companies will help increase production," said Tania Chambers, CEO of the NSW Film and Television Office.

The deal also formalizes a strong working relationship that Australian and Singaporean production companies have developed in recent years.

Among the unofficial co-productions successfully brought to market are: Tony Ayres' "Home Song Stories," produced by Australia's Big and Little Films and Porchlight Films with investment from Film Finance Corp. Australia and Singapore's MediaCorp. Raintree Pictures; lifestyle series "5 Star Insider," produced by Australia's Landmark Television and Singapore's Oak3 Films; kids' animated series "Milly Molly," co-produced by Pacific & Beyond (Australia) and Scrawl Studios (Singapore); and "Master Raindrop," produced by Greenpatch Prods. (Australia), Big Communications (Singapore) and Flux Animation (New Zealand).

The Singapore-Australia treaty marks Australia's eighth co-production partnership. It joins existing treaties with the U.K. and Northern Ireland, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Germany and China, as well as memorandums of understanding with France and New Zealand. A treaty with South Africa is still being negotiated.

The new agreement, which is subject to ratification through Australia's local treaty approval process, is expected to come into force later this year and will be administered by the Australian Film Commission and Singapore's Media Development Authority.

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