A film co-production treaty is to be signed in a few days between the Indian and Australian governments.
The aim is to encourage Australian and Indian film makers to work together, by streamlining some of the administrative and funding issues around such cooperation.
“The practical benefits for film makers are that projects approved as official co-productions under the treaty will be granted ‘national treatment’ by both countries, co-producers can access a range of funding and tax benefits, simplified immigration requirements for the entry of skilled personnel, and duty-free importation of equipment for use in co-productions,” highlighted Anupam Sharma, film maker and a leading Australian expert on the Indian entertainment sector, with a thesis on Indian cinema.
He is the managing director of Films and Casting Temple, and has led a team of professionals on more than 200 projects. He added, “What India does not realise is how much it can benefit from each other’s film industries. The Indian film industry has yet to capitalise on the many policies like the 40 per cent producers’ rebate set in place. Hopefully, we can achieve this with the new co-production treaty. Many producers are happy with the short-term and small benefits they got by just filming in Australia.”
The Australian government has designated 2012 as ‘The Year of India’ and there will be a strong focus on India across all areas of trade, including the screen industries. Through this initiative, there is a strong expectation that in the coming year, there will be more opportunities to exchange ideas and cement ongoing relationships. In keeping with this spirit, the Australian delegation visiting Ficci Frames 2011 told Business Standard that around five Bollywood film projects will soon begin shooting in Autralia.
“This film co-production agreement is a further example of the growing bilateral relationship between Australia and India,” said Bill Bennett, regarded as one of Australia’s most experienced and respected film makers.
Quite a few Australians are employed on Indian films in both Australia and India. Says Peter Castaldi , a distinguished Australian journalist and film critic, “A number of Australian documentaries on Bollywood are currently in development, some of which have support from state and federal funding bodies.”
Says Julie Marlow, senior policy consultant, Screen Producers Association Australia, “Almost 200 Bollywood films have been shot in Australia in the last 10 years. We are looking to get as many projects as possible underway, so that our joint co-production treaty can be given some momentum. We are keenly aware that future co-productions will need to be driven by good stories that have relevance to both cultures.”