Film Bazaar explores UK- India co-production possibilities

GOA: NFDC India’s Film Bazaar 2008 kicked off in Goa on the sidelines of IFFI. The first session discussed co-production possibilities between India and the United Kingdom.

Moderated by UK Film Council’s Isabel Davis, the panel discussion began with a reminder of the ratified co-production treaty between India and the UK. While the treaty was brought about in 2005, the details were being worked upon and the same was ratified only earlier this year.

The panel comprised producer and locations manager Crispin Buxton, Grant Thorton partner Christine Corner, Consultant Dia Dattani, High Point Film managing director Carey Fitzgerald, Screen Yorkshire head of production Hugo Heppell and International Film London head of production Helena Mackenzie.

The discussion revealed the various ways in which tax credit by Indian producers can be attained and how it should be approached. The discussion further emphasised on the need and role of sales agents and their involvement in the creative process. In addition to this, issues regarding finances from different sources were also addressed.

Availing the 20 per cent tax credit in the UK seemed to be the central point of discussion. Corner explained the two schemes under which tax credit may be availed. “It can be attained either by getting approved as a schedule one film, in which case the cultural test would need to be passed. The other manner of availing the rebate would be to qualify under the recently ratified treaty. However, 25 per cent of the film’s cost would have to be spent in the UK in order to avail of the tax benefit,” she said.

The panellists also highlighted the fact that the contribution made by co-producers would have to be either through equity or through a filmmaking contribution. The same may be in the form of services and kind and is required to be a minimum of 20 per cent. Highlighting the benefit of co-production in the UK, Heppell said, “In addition to the financial benefits, one also attains the benefit of creative collaboration aiding the film to reach a wider audience.”

With the discussion moving forward, the cards were balanced as the complication of co-productions were addressed. Co-productions are complicated and a lot needs to be considered, opined panellists. Moreover, co-productions also turn complicated as each producer seeks to share a piece of the pie. Even the finance that is attained for such productions are driven by numerous clauses and completion bonds guaranteeing on time completion of the film.

Discussing the importance of sales agents Mackenzie and Corner spoke about the importance of having agents involved in the creative process of the film. They said that their advice is crucial and they bring in like-minded partners when required. Mackenzie also spoke about the London UK Film Focus – a four day event wherein films are screened to over 120 international distributors. “If Indian films qualify under the treaty they end up qualifying to be shown at the film focus as well, hence further enhancing the chance of international exposure,” she said.

In order to qualify for the tax rebate, funds for the film can be put in from anywhere in the globe as long as it is routed through India or the UK. Additionally, the best possible platforms to look for co-producers are networks like PACT, the Producer’s Guild, Regional Screen Agency and personal recommendations.