EmptyTreaties: Australia, Canada, France, India, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa
Recent projects: "Hannibal Rising" (Czech Republic-France-Italy-U.K.), "The Last Legion" (France-Italy-Slovakia-Tunisia-U.K.), "La Vie en Rose" (Czech Republic-France-U.K.)
Earlier this year the U.K. Film Council published figures that showed the U.K. was involved in 28 co-productions, with a total British spend of 73.8 million pounds ($109.1 million) last year, still one third down on 2006's figure of 112 million pounds with 53 films. According to the council Web site there have been 19 co-productions with a total of 49.8 million pounds ($73.6 million) in the first three quarters of 2008. The co-production downturn in recent years appears to be continuing apace.
The U.K. has co-production agreements in place that cover more than 45 countries around the globe falling into two categories, seven of which are bilateral treaties, the most recent of which is with India. And it is currently negotiating bilateral agreements with China and Morocco. Such agreements aim to bolster producer relationships between the two nations.
Under bilateral treaties, movie projects are granted national status in both countries and can gain access to the U.K. tax relief system in addition to the whatever sort of relief might be available in the partner country.
One of the first India-U.K. films to benefit from the tax credits and benefits of bilateral co-production status is Vipul Shah's "London Dreams."
In addition to its bilateral pacts, the U.K. is also a signatory on the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production agreement. The U.K. Film Council's co-production expert Isabel Davies is keen to point out that this is slightly misleading in name because it covers countries outside the European Community, such as Russia.
London-based production house Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME), run by Mike Downey and Sam Taylor, specializes in making movies under the co-production system. Downey says it's all about producing stories that cross borders. In a climate which has seen the virtual extinction of international co-production in the U.K., F&ME have three co-productions in the pipeline to shoot in the U.K. in early 2009. "We have managed to produce a mix of big-budget epics, smaller European art house treasures moving across genre and budget with the aim of creating a mixed portfolio of films that add to our catalog," says Downey.
-- Stuart Kemp
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