Co-production is a film, television program, or theatre production organised by two or more people or organisations, rather than a single person or organisation (Cambridge Dictionary).
Co-production can be sourced internationally as well as locally, by allowing different countries to come together and produce a film, television program or theatre production. It is not only small scale productions that are receiving support from co-production but big name productions are too using the help of other organisations to help fund and complete their products. Today, co-productions are mainly focused on popular genres, highly simulating Hollywood productions that contain hybrid elements drawn directly from a variety of genres.
“International TV and film co-productions reflect the continuing integration of cultural and economic activities on a global scale. Co-productions have been on the increase since the early 1990s, coinciding with convergences – political, economic, technological and content – in the film and television industries.” (Baltruschat, 2002)
In Australia co-production agreements are made between the country governing body and the governments of various countries, thus to create benefits for both parties. Currently Australia has co-production treaties with the UK, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Germany, Korea, South Africa, Singapore and China and holds a Memoranda of Understanding with France and New Zealand.
Co-production has become increasing popular in Australia since 1986 when formal arrangements were first signed with 12 countries. Meaning 164 co-productions have either been completed or have commenced for production as of 30th April 2016, among these is Hollywood’s blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road. Co-produced films have accounted for a lot of Australia’s economic finances as well as showcasing the rich culture the land holds. However, critics have stated that though there are many positives of co-production in Australia, this act can hinder the cultural identity of the country and its people. As the traditions, rituals and stories of the land and its people are neglected.
A study published in the Canadian Journal of Communication looks at the possible draw backs of international co-production in Canada, Japan and Australia, taken straight from those who work and are involved in the industry. The drawbacks found that many producers were worried about the “compromises concerning the character of the program and the creative talent employed” as well as the “cultural integrity of the program produced is undermined”. (McFadyen, Hoskins and Finn, 1998)
Other drawbacks saw a concern with the costs of the production and negotiating across countries as well as shooting costs for the production and an increased involvement with the government especially when working with international partners.
However, despite all the drawbacks of co-production producers from various countries and backgrounds have come together to produce many outstanding films. An Australian example of this would have to be none other than Mad Max: Fury Road. A Hollywood blockbuster with Australian roots from its directors, producers, editing team as well as many actors, this film in particular was a huge success deeming it the most successful co-produced Australian film. Although the film itself made no reference to Australian culture it did utilise many Australian talents and landscapes.
Co-productions are a tricky process and can’t always please all areas of filmmaking, even though elements of culture are often lost in the productions when the plot lines aren’t specific enough, they do diversify their talent to try and cover as many areas as possible.
Baltruschat, D 2002, ‘Globalisation and International TV and Film Co-productions: In Search of New Narratives’, Media in Transition 2: Globalisation and Convergence, pp 1-19, viewed 29th September 2016 <http://cmsw.mit.edu/mit2/Abstracts/DorisBaltruschat.pdf>
McFadyen, S, Hoskins, C and Finn, A 1998, ‘The Effect of Cultural Differences on the International Co-production of Television Programs and Feature Films’, Canadian Journal of Communications, vol. 23, no. 4 <http://cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/view/1063/969>
Screen Australia 2016, Co-production Program, viewed 29th September 2016 <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/funding-and-support/co-production-program>