A search has begun in China, India, Korea and Singapore for films and television programmes that would be suitable co-productions with Australia.

The projects will form the heart of an event, announced today, which will run alongside the annual conference of the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA). The conference runs Nov 14-16 on Australia's Gold Coast.

Titled the Australia/Asia Co-production Connection, the event will involve about 30 producers - half of whom will be Australian - and aims to strengthen relationships between the Australian production sector and those of its northern neighbours. The producers' association in each country will be involved in the selection of the projects.

The event will be moderated by Jonathan Olsberg, chair of the UK's Olsberg/SPI and a regular adviser on business matters to Australia's film industry. It will include general information about the benefits and obstacles of co-productions in each of the five countries, speed dating sessions, and talks by various experts. Co-production models designed by participants will be fed back into the main conference.

The financing market SPAAmart will again run parrallel to the conference, presenting 11 Australian and New Zealand projects including new films by Fred Schepisi and Tony Ayres.

On the first morning of the conference SPAA will hand out awards to its producer members and the three days will be book-ended by two unrelated awards nights: the inaugural Asia Pacific Screen Awards on Nov 13 and the Inside Film Awards on Nov 16.