Australia Simplifies Co-Production Guidelines

'The Railway Man'

Director: John Teplitzky 
Stars: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman
The Buzz: The film, slotted high up on every buyer's A-list, tells the true story of a haunted World War II British Army officer whose wife decides he must meet his former Japanese POW tormentor.

The updated guidelines are designed to increase international collaborations

Screen Australia has simplified its official co-production guidelines and programs, removing elements that producers said were “complex and inflexible” in a bid to get more international film and TV co-ventures off the ground.

Presenting the new guidelines to Australian and international producers as part of Ausfilm Week in London, Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said simplified guidelines would “increase the ambitions of projects by aiming for bigger budgets, bigger returns and bigger audiences.”

Said Mason: “In an environment where we are all facing reduced funds to produce screen content, it is a logical step for us to make it easier for Australian screen practitioners to collaborate with international partners and vice versa." He added: "The advantages of this for the industry will include access to support from both countries, increasing the ambitions of projects by aiming for bigger budgets, bigger returns and bigger audiences.”

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Summed up Mason: “Australia has a lot to offer diverse locations, talented writers and directors, skilled crew, world-class performers and a 40 percent rebate for feature films made as official co-productions."

The simplified guidelines include relaxing the application requirements for a project’s provisional approval, which will allow projects to be submitted for assessment as an official co-production before all financial agreements are finalized.

The agency has also released new tools on Screen Australia’s website to supplement the guidelines, which outline the key terms of the various co-production treaties, provide a summary of the choices available and monitor a project’s eligibility status.

Mason said the revised guidelines were “initial” changes, with further industry consultations planned around the definitions of Australia’s creative contribution to a project.

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Overall, 42 projects have been produced under Australia’s 25-year-old treaty with the U.K., for example, with recent British co-productions including the upcoming BBC TV series Banished and Colin Firth-Nicole Kidman starrer The Railway Man.

Mason said, “co-productions can extend audience opportunities for film and television content, particularly with partners such as the U.K. who share the challenges faced in the English-language markets dominated by U.S. product."

Australia has nine official co-production treaties, two memorandums of understanding and an agreement with South Korea, which will come into effect when a free trade agreement is ratified.