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First principles

Why would you make a co-production?

Making a project as a co-production opens a greater pool of resources – by automatically accessing two markets in terms of creativity, finance and audience reach.

An official co-production is considered a ‘national’ project of each country and is then able to take advantage of the incentives provided to national films. In Australia, the major benefits are that an approved co-production:

  • may allow the Australian producer to access the Producer Offset (bypassing the significant Australian content test) under Division 376 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997
  • may apply for production funding from Screen Australia and other government agencies (note, however, that approval as a co-production doesn’t mean that funding is automatic; rather, it means you are eligible to apply for support for your project)
  • is considered ‘Australian content’ for the purposes of content quotas applying to Australian broadcasters.

Co-productions are also eligible for any support provided to national films of the other co-producing country.

Other benefits may also accrue to co-productions, for example when dealing with immigration and customs requirements. You should check the terms of the relevant Arrangement and for further information, contact the relevant agencies such as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and Australian Customs and Border Protection Services, and their counterparts in the other country. Information regarding the Foreign Actor Certification Scheme can be found at Department of Communications and the Arts website.

What kind of projects are a good fit for co-production?

The co-production pathway may be a good option where the particular elements of a project lead naturally to a co-production approach. For example, a project which has an Australian director working with a UK writer on a story set in both the UK and Australia would be a ‘natural’ co-production.

However, not all projects will be suited to the co-production structure.

Arrangements impose terms and conditions on each co-producer, and these may not always be achievable. It is important to note that your project will not be approved as a co-production if you cannot meet the terms of the relevant Arrangement.

Before embarking on a co-production, you should closely assess your reasons.

We welcome discussions with producers early in the planning stage. However, before arranging an appointment with Screen Australia’s Producer Offset and Co-production Unit (POCU), please ensure you have read the relevant Arrangement as well as these guidelines.