Co productions are a direct result of the increasingly networked global community that we live in. Co-productions are based around the collaboration of two individuals from different countries who create a film together.
By creating international films, through co productions, the industry is working towards a global market. According to Screen Australia, these co-productions are governed by treaties that are formalised between Australia and other countries.
Currently, Australia has treaties in place with the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Ireland, Isreal, Germany, Korea, South Africa, Singapore and Memoranda of Understanding with France and New Zealand.
These agreements are rife with uncertainty as they can be both beneficial and disadvantageous to all parties involved as the practice is still being work shopped.
In regards to the benefits, the agreements or understandings are aiming to provide both economic benefit as well as rich collaborative and cultural experiences. Economic benefit would be find through the bi-national status of the film and bring new avenues of distribution and consumption which immediately raises revenue.
In regards to the facilitation of a new collaborative and cultural experiences the benefits are obvious for a creative industry such as film. However in summary, the combination of creative and technical expertise leads to a higher standard of production as well as the product being regarded as ‘domestic’ in more than one country.
On the surface, the benefits of co productions appear to be integral to the way forward for the film industry in our globalised context.
However, there are some serious disadvantageous to co-productions and the way that the system operates currently.
Firstly, the ‘paper work’ aspect is time consuming and and highly bureaucratic. In order to attain either a Treaty or Memorandum of Understanding it is necessary to apply for both Provisional Approval and Final Approval which can take up to 18 weeks.
On a practical level, different time zones make it extremely difficult to communicate, as does language barriers.
I believe a huge difficulty lies in the creation of the actual content of the movie as it is difficult to maintain an equal influence of both countries involved in the co-production. This would mean that co productions are only suitable for ‘global stories’ and therefore limits the amount of a strong influence of either culture or nation of the co-production parties.
In Doris Baltrus’ paper, Globalization and International TV and Film Co-productions: In Search of a New Narrative she discusses these issues and highlights that whilst the concept of co-productions could be great, it’s current state is doing nothing to explore concepts of “diversification and hybridisation of cultures”.
The way that co-productions are being created at the moment is leading them to focus solely on a global market and therefore only telling ‘popular stories’. This in turn is working against everything that the theory of a co-production treaty or understanding works towards.
Therefore while the notion is an exciting one, it still has a long way to go to achieve it’s ultimate capabilities.
Baltruschat, D 2002, ‘Globalization and International TV and Film Co-productions: In Search of New Narratives’ Media in Transition 2: Globalization and Convergence May 10-12, viewed 30 October <http://cmsw.mit.edu/mit2/Abstracts/DorisBaltruschat.pdf>
Screen Australia n.d, Co-production Program, Screen Australia, viewed 30 October <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/funding-and-support/co-production-program>
Yecies, B 2009, ‘What the boomerang misses: pursuing international film co-production treaties and strategies’ University of Wollongong, viewed 30 October <http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1409&context=artspapers>