Treaties: Canada, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Singapore, U.K.
Recent projects: "Bright Star" (Australia-U.K.), "The Children of Huang Shi" (Australia-China-Germany), "Erky Perky" (Australia-Canada)

With the Australian Producer Offset providing up to a 40% rebate to qualifying film and TV projects now in place, interest in Australian co-productions is running high. Seventeen co-production applications have been filed with Screen Australia this year, up from 12 last year, with 15 of those receiving provisional approval.

While there's been a flurry of activity in the last two years with the newly inked China and Singapore treaties, Alex Sangston, who manages Australia's co-production program for Screen Australia, says that interest from Europe and the U.K. is on the rise, particularly from Germany and Italy.

In addition, there is renewed interest in Australia-U.K. co-productions, which suffered a downturn in the last few years in the wake of changes to the U.K. tax credit. In recent years, the Canada-Australia treaty has also been popular, particularly for children's TV drama and animation.

There has also been a large increase in interest since the Producer Offset's inception, largely because it has been structured to work well with official co-productions, according to Sangston.

Those elements of the offset that apply to co-productions include: Expenditures made in a co-producing country can count toward meeting the qualifying Australian production expenditure (QAPE) threshold for an official co-production; when a film reasonably requires the use of a certain location outside Australia, expenditure on Australian residents during principal photography at the location can be counted as QAPE, while also counting toward local incentives; and co-productions automatically meet the significant Australian content (SAC) test, the cultural test for films to qualify for the Producer Offset.

But while many are buoyed by the new offset, Sangston warns that "the co-production system allows access to finance from multiple markets, giving more options for financing. But co-productions do require a great deal of work and careful structuring, so they aren't for everybody."

-- Pip Bulbeck

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