EmptyTreaties: Canada, Germany, Italy, U.K.
Recent projects: "Hotel Rwanda" (Italy-South Africa-U.K.), "Flood" (Canada-South Africa-U.K.), "Skin" (South Africa-U.K.)
Emerging as a democracy in 1994, South Africa's first co-production treaty was with Canada in 1997 (in 10 years, it has borne 17 productions). An Italian treaty was signed in 2003 and a German treaty in 2004. Before signing its own treaty in May 2006, the U.K. collaborated with South African producers through third party participation, as Ireland and France still sometimes do.
The approval process for co-productions has been run by the National Film and Video Foundation since 2004. The expected financial contribution from the treaty country is 20%-80% of the budget, and, on average, nearly 70% of the spend on a South African co-production is foreign. The scope of all four treaties is broad, allowing for documentary or animation projects of any length for any form of distribution. As it turns out, 67% of projects completed under the various treaties thus far have been feature films.
An enticing financial rebate -- the South African film and television production and co-production incentive -- was announced in February. "The treaties have much better value now that we have the rebate," affirms Genevieve Hofmeyr of Cape Town's Moonlighting Films. The incentive sets the the qualifying total production budget for official treaty co-productions at the low entry barrier of 2.5 million rand ($248,000), with a rebate of 35% of the first 6 million rand ($595,000) of the production budget, 25% for the remainder, with the rebate capped at 10 million rand ($992,000) per project. Co-production parties can apply to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) for finance to cashflow the anticipated rebate.
With only four official treaties in place, piecing together viable co-productions with other global players can be a costly, convoluted process. "We need treaties with Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand," says Izidore Codron of Izidore Codron Films in Cape Town. "More treaties are essential for our industry to have bigger scope and access to new markets."
-- Michelle Matthews
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