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Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...

Co-producing outside the EU: Cinema agreements with non-European countries


- National cinema industries have several reasons for co-producing outside the EU. A shared language, a common cultural heritage, a maintained political influence or a neighbouring relation are some of the most common explanations. National cinema institutes can foster these relations both throughout legal frameworks and support programmes.

1. Bilateral treaties. The example of the UK-India Bilateral Agreement

The most elementary tool to foster the co-production between two countries is the bilateral agreement. It generates a legal framework agreed by the parties within which two producers of the signing countries will be sure that if the rules are fulfilled their film will be treated as a national work in both countries. Unlike the agreements between European countries, those signed between a European country and a non-European one must regulate the right of the people involved in the production of the film to enter the country and the clearance of duties and taxes of the equipments involved in the film.

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The UK-India Agreement establishes that “each Party shall permit, in accordance with their respective legislation, including, for the UK relevant European Community legislation, temporary import and export, free of import or export duties and taxes, of any equipment necessary for the production of an Approved Co-production”. In the same way, it is said that any person employed in the production or promotion of a co-production shall be allowed to enter and remain in India and/or the UK, “subject to the requirement that they comply with the legislation relating to entry, residence and employment”.

2. Mini-Traité between France and Canada

This kind of agreement can be considered a step beyond the bilateral treaty, since it not only creates a legal framework, but also sets up a fund participated by both countries exclusively oriented to finance bilateral co-productions. Therefore, not only the existing legal hurdles are lowered, but there is also an incitement to co-produce in form of financing support.

The French-Canadian Mini-Treaty is similar to most of the many treaties signed by France, but it also establishes an annual allocation of up to Euro 750k by each party (CNC in France and Telefilm in Canada) for bilateral co-productions. Since it existence funds have never been exhausted. The agreement, signed in 1984, covers four to five productions a year and works similarly to the French-German Mini-Treaty. Additional mini-treaties have also been signed between both countries for the fields of television development and animation. The existence of the mini-treaties does not mean that France and Canada have not signed an ordinary co-production agreement more oriented to foster European majority co-productions.

The selective support will be granted in advance and shall not be greater than 20% of the production’s cost. Furthermore, the amount granted by each of the countries shall represent a percentage identical to their respective contributions to the particular coproduction up to a maximum of Euro 380k (by each support institution). Priority will be given to films of artistic interest for both countries, to those shot in French language, as well as to non-European majority co-productions.

Breakdown of support decisions in 2009
TitleDirectorFrench ProducerCanadian ProducerAmount granted by CNC (Euro)
SarilaRoger Harvey and Pierre TremblayShax FranceCarpediem Films100.000
IncendiesDenis VilleneuveTarantula FranceMicro scope70.000
BleueJoseph HillelLa Femme EndormieCine Qua Non Media63.000
Voyez comme ils dansentClaude MillerAlicéleoBBR Productions100.000
Les jours des corneillesSerge ElissaldeFinalementMax Films (Canada), Walking the dog (Belgique), Mélusine Productions (Luxembourg)137.000
Source: CNC

3. Ibermedia Programme (

Ibermedia’s action covers the fields of development, production, distribution, exhibition and training. It is a multilateral programme launched in 1997, currently including eighteen countries: Spain and Portugal in Europe as well as Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Cuba, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Colombia or Chile, among others, in Latin America. Each country appoints a representative of its respective Cinema Institute for the Ibermedia Intergovernmental Committee, which meets two times a year to lay out the schemes and actions and grant the support. A technical unit based in Madrid evaluates the applications prior to submitting them to the Committee in order to check the eligibility of the projects.

The legal framework surrounding the programme statutes is conformed by three treaties signed at the same time in 1989: the Agreement for the Single Latin American Cinematographic Market; the Latin American Co-production Agreement joined by Spain in 1997; and the Ibero-American Cinematographic Integration Agreement, with Spain as only European member, which set up the CAACI (Ibero-American Cinema Authorities Conference) and the SECI (Executive Secretariat for the Ibero-American Cinematography) based in Caracas, in order to develop these transatlantic relations. Ibermedia is part of CAACI’s audiovisual policy.

Spain is the main supporter of the fund, with an allocation of $3,34m (more than 40% of the fund’s overall budget) in 2009, of which almost 75% was contributed by AECID (Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development); while the Cultural Cooperation Office of the Ministry of Culture provided the fund with Euro 300k. At the same time ICAA earmarked Euro 400k for the programme in 2009.

Breakdown of contributions and grants by country in 2009 (Source: Ibermedia)

COSTA RICA100.000227.000
PUERTO RICO150.000210.000
*Countries whose contribution to the programme is the same or higher than the amount granted to them

The production scheme represents 75% of the fund budget. Applicants should be independent companies from countries of the programme. In the case of feature film productions, the grant cannot exceed $200k or 50% of the production cost. The contribution of any co-producer may neither be less than 20% of the production cost, nor more than 70% (80% for bilateral co-productions). The participation of producers established in non-Ibermedia countries is limited to up to 30% of the budget. The technical and artistic contribution must be proportional to the financial contribution of each co-producer.

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