Snapshots of international treaties around the globe

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Australia

"Pearlie," the 26 x 24-minute animated kids series, is based on the books by Australian comedian Wendy Harmer but the technical nature of the animation meant that Australian producers Sticky Pictures wanted an offshore partner to help make the series.

"We can't fully finance a series like this out of Australia," says Sticky Pictures principal Donna Andrews. "We needed to find a like-minded partner but because of the way the treaty works we were able to retain a level of creative control that we wanted."

Canada's Nelvana stepped forward, providing 70% of the financing and the technical expertise to animate the stories of a fairy who lives in a park. Sticky Pictures retained key creative control including that of the overall design of the series, with two of the books illustrators working on the series' look and feel from Australia.

In addition, the production was able to access the Australian producer's offset, giving it the 30% of the production budget required to get co-production financing.

-- Pip Bulbeck



Canada

Terry Gilliam's fantastical $25 million "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," a majority 62% U.K./38% Canadian co-production, completed the usual patchwork of soft money and tax breaks to get made.

The effects-laden traveling carnival adventure picture helped offset production costs by tapping subsidies from the U.K. Film Council and a $1.6 million investment from Telefilm Canada's Feature Film Fund.

Heath Ledger's last film also received a 25% tax rebate on Canadian labor costs when it shot on soundstages in Vancouver, after exteriors were completed in London.

Additionally, Lionsgate U.K. received $197,000 in National Lottery funding to release "Imaginarium" into British theaters.

-- Etan Vlessing



Mexico

Co-producers of the immigration-themed dramedy "Northless" made certain that first-time Mexican filmmaker Rigoberto Perezcano would get a fair shake.

All too often Mexican productions struggle to land distribution deals. Yet benefiting from a co-production accord with Spain, Mexico's Tiburon Filmes partnered with Barcelona-based shingle Mediapro to secure theatrical releases in both nations.

Mediapro's 20% investment, the minimum amount required under the treaty, allowed it to nab distribution rights in Spain. Additionally, "Northless" will air on Television Espanola, a Mediapro client.

"Once a Mexican film becomes a Spanish (co-production) it gets much better treatment," Tiburon producer Edgar San Juan says.

-- John Hecht



New Zealand

Australian and New Zealand TV production company Screentime is in production on its first feature film, setting up the environmental thriller "Ice" as an official U.K.-New Zealand co-production with U.K. distributor Power.

Screentime NZ Philly De Lacey had been looking at suitable projects that could access the region's Screen Production Incentive Fund, which provides producers with a 40% rebate on a qualifying film's budget. "Ice" fitted the bill and was able to qualify as a co-production thanks to the involvement of Power.

As well as the SPIF, "New Zealand's locations and crews and the value of the New Zealand dollar at the moment, all make NZ projects particularly attractive to international partner," De Lacey says.

Starring Richard Roxburgh, Frances O'Connor, Claire Forlani, Sam Neill and Stephen Moyer, "Ice" is a co-production with the feature shot and postproduced entirely in New Zealand, employing about 370 cast and crew.

Without the ability to access the SPIF and treat it as s co-production, "Ice" would probably not have been made, De Lacey says.

-- Pip Bulbeck
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