New Zealand, India Sign Co-Production Treaty

The pact is New Zealand's 11th, and gives each side domestic benefits for qualifying films.

SYDNEY -- New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an official film co-production treaty in India on Tuesday night, as part of ongoing free trade discussions between the two countries.

The Agreement on Audio-Visual Co-Productions, in negotiation since 2007, “will allow both sides to encourage industry-level cooperation, share creative talent, and support the vibrant film industry in both countries,” the prime ministers said in a joint statement.

The pact allows approved film and television projects to gain the status of official co-productions, which gives them the benefits accorded to domestic films in each of the co-producers’ countries. A producer from each country must be attached to a qualifying film, while getting access to funding and incentives, as well as facilitating temporary immigration and importation of equipment, within existing regulations.

Key said the new treaty, New Zealand’s 11th such official agreement, “will encourage further cooperation between New Zealand and India's film industries by enhancing screen co-investment, joint creative input, and film crew interaction."

“India is a rapidly rising player in the region, and we want to build on our already strong cultural and economic ties,” Key said.

A number of recent  Bollywood films, such as I Hate Luv Stories and The Players, have been filmed partly around Queenstown in New Zealand.

“The influence of these films, with an audience of millions, has been instrumental in stimulating Indian interest in New Zealand as a tourism destination. This Agreement will also offer greater certainty to investors looking to fund New Zealand-India film co-productions,” Key said.

Key is planning to visit the set of The Players in Film City, Mumbai Wednesday.

The NZ production industry was worth NZ$3 billion ($2.4 billion) in the year to March 30, according to recent government statistics, while Key said that Bollywood turns out three times more films each year than Hollywood.

Graeme Mason, CEO of funding agency the New Zealand Film Commission, said that there are several projects in the early stages of development which could take advantage of the new arrangement.

“A project bringing together the economic and cultural strengths of both the New Zealand film industry and Bollywood is something to look forward to," Mason said.