When either seeking, or being approached by, potential coproduction partners it is important, before opening negotiations, to check out the potential co-producer and the project.
Unless the producer is known to you it is advisable to explore the following points:
• check company background and do a company search;
• ask other producers or production companies in that country;
• check out their production credits;
• determine who they have already approached re: financing/co-production;
• ensure that the underlying rights to the script are clear;
• check out the viability of the financing plan. Ask to see any contracts for 'committed' funding;
• check the production budget closely;
• ensure that the timescale for pre-production, production and post-production are realistic.
One of the first tasks, even before the co-production agreement is drawn up, is the agreement between the co-production partners as to the roles they are each to perform on the production. The treatment of most other areas to be addressed in the agreement will relate to these roles and responsibilities.
Second, as a prerequisite to the agreement, one must establish the proportions in which the co-producers will share ownership of, and benefits, from the production. Whereas this should ideally reflect the effort and financial risks that the originating co-producer may have taken in developing the project prior to entering into the co-production, it must also give more than a passing nod to the limits and thresholds of the co-production treaty or convention under which the project is structured.
Co-production agreements are fairly complex but they all have a similar working skeleton upon which hangs the basic premise of the agreement between the parties. Here I outline a fairly basic but standard co-production agreement and explain the elements therein.
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