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28/04/2004

Film industry welcomes co-production treaty increase

The main film industry bodies have broadly welcomed a move by Films Minister Estelle Morris to tighten up the terms of film treaties with four countries.
The move, effective from July 1, increases the minimum proportional spend that any film from France, Italy, Denmark or Iceland that seeks co-production status with the UK will have to undertake. The increase will mean that to qualify a film must spend 40% of its budget here to qualify - a rise from the current 30% minimum.
Steve Norris, British Film Commissioner and head of the UK Film Council's International Department said: "Film is a global industry, and balanced international relationships must be the cornerstone of any strategy for the future of the UK film industry.
"We welcome these moves which, together with the longer-term reform of the UK's network of production treaties, will help to ensure that they deliver more investment in UK talent and the UK production infrastructure."
Ronnie Planalp, Director of Film for PACT said: "The tightening announced today is a necessary measure at this time.
"However, it should be viewed in the context of the review that is being done by the co-production working group which is making steady progress toward long-term solutions that will deliver economic, industrial and cultural benefits to the UK."
Mark Devereux, Chair of the BSAC Co-production Working Group said: "When working effectively, co-productions can bring a broad range of cultural and economic benefits to the UK, and in doing so, can play an important role in achieving overall co-production policy objectives."
Viewed as beneficial for the UK industry, the alteration follows clear evidence that international co-productions from these countries are at present benefiting from UK tax relief - applicable to the whole co-production budget for films that are certified as British - without delivering the desired level of investment in UK film talent and facilities.
Estelle Morris said: "Co-productions are increasingly at the heart of the film industry. They enable us to pool expertise and make the most of an increasingly global market.
"We have to make sure the co-production system delivers real cultural and economic benefits to both partners. Too often co-productions have not brought in the work and have not been screened in the UK. I am determined to address this.
The Minister said that the change was a "stop-gap measure, not a long term solution" that would help to restore balance under treaties with France, Italy, Denmark and Iceland.
She added: "The end game has to be to create a whole new landscape of treaties, properly geared to the realities and the opportunities for film-making today.
"The on-going root-and-branch review of co-production treaties being carried out by the DCMS, the UK Film Council, and industry experts will be essential in meeting this aim."
Co-production has been an important part of the expansion of the UK film industry - this year around 175 films classed as co-productions are expected to be green lit.
The revision of the four treaties has been made with the full support of key industry partners.
The Department for Culture Media and Sport and UK Film Council, along with representatives of UK film industry bodies PACT and BSAC are currently undertaking a wider review of international film co-production treaties.
This review is expected to result in an overhaul and the streamlining of a collection of mainly ad hoc co-production treaties drawn up over the last 30 years.
(SP)
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