Co-productions with co-producers from more than two countries are referred to as multipartite co-productions.
You can only make a multipartite co-production where co-production Arrangements connect all the countries. The countries don't all have to be connected directly to each other, but each must have a formal Arrangement with at least one of the other partner countries.
We strongly recommend that you contact the POCU early if you are planning such a production. Your co-producers should also speak with their respective Competent Authorities to ensure any limitations or restrictions are identified as early as possible
Examples of three-way co-production structures
A three-way co-production can be structured in several ways, depending on the countries involved. (The following scenarios are provided as examples only, and do not amount to legal or accounting advice; you should seek your own profession advice.)
1. All parties directly linked, and common minimum contributions
. In this scenario, Arrangements are in place directly between all co-production countries and all these Arrangements have the same minimum contribution. An example would be a co-production between Australia, the UK and Canada, for which all Treaties require a 30 per cent minimum contribution.
Generally speaking, this is relatively easy to structure as it is clear that each party must contribute at least that required by the Arrangements. The parties just need to meet the terms of the agreement to which they are a party – the most significant being the minimum 30 per cent finance and creative contribution – as well as the specific terms regarding the involvement of a ‘third co-producer’.
2. Two countries linked by a third
. In this scenario, two of the countries are not linked by a bilateral Arrangement directly to each other, but both are linked to a third country (known as the ‘pivot country’). For example, Australia does not have a co-production Arrangement with Morocco, but both Australia and Morocco have Arrangements with the United Kingdom. The UK could then act as the pivot country in a co-production between Australia, the UK and Morocco.
In this situation, it will be important to verify the conditions of the UK-Moroccan Arrangement as well as the Australian-UK Arrangement to ensure the specific terms in which a third co-producer can be involved are met.
Importantly, each co-producer would need to meet the minimum contribution required by the Arrangement(s) to which their country is a party, so the Australian and UK co-producers would need to meet a 30 per cent minimum, but the Moroccan co-producer need only meet the minimum of the UK-Moroccan Arrangement.
3. All parties directly linked, but with different minimum contributions
In this scenario there are Arrangements between all co-production countries, but the minimum contributions for each are not the same.
For example, in the case of a co-production between Australia, Canada and Singapore:
- the Australian-Canadian Treaty specifies a minimum of 30 per cent
- the Australian-Singaporean Treaty specifies a minimum of 20 per cent
- the Singaporean-Canadian Treaty specifies a minimum of 20 per cent
The higher minimum contribution under the Australian-Canadian Arrangement could present problems for the producers if all parties were seeking to contribute a minimum of 20 per cent. All co-production parties are directly linked, but with different minimum contributions.
However, because there are direct links between all three parties, it would be open to the originating producer to choose which Arrangements would apply, for example using only the Australia-Singapore and Singapore-Canada Arrangements – effectively making Singapore the ‘pivot country’ in a similar structure to example 2, with all co-producers needing to contribute a minimum of 20 per cent.
This would be expected to be reflected in the Co-producers’ Agreement.
4. Involving the European Convention
Producers may also wish to consider the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production (ECCC) when undertaking multipartite productions. The ECCC is a convention governing multi-party productions with member and non-member parties.
We recommend that you liaise with your co-producers about the use of the ECCC as well as seek clarity from the relevant Competent Authorities.