Now is a great time forEuropean and Asian producers to start talking to one other about potentialcollaborations, if only because they are at least nine months away from doingbusiness together under any one of the official co-production treatiescurrently being negotiated.
The need for internationalpartners to work organically together, rather than be forced into shotgunmarriages for pure financial reasons, was one of the commonly agreedconclusions to be drawn from yesterday's Filmartseminar on co-operation between Europe and Asia.
They certainly have time tofoster those relationships: all the excited talk of creative partnerships wastempered with the realisation that trade agreements can take as long as fouryears to cement - when countries like France and Korea agree on the broad outlines of a treaty.
In fact, other than China's treaty with Italy, none will be signed imminently. The closest is theSino-Australian agreement which is still months away. France, which has more than 40 co-production treaties butonly one in Asia with India, is drafting agreements with Korea and China.
Meanwhile, the UK is negotiating its own treaty with China and has signed a preliminary agreement with India - although its exact status as a co-productionpartner won't be known until British Government clarifies the production taxbreaks any hour now.
China, which is also negotiating treaties with India and Czech Republic, seems to have loosened its requirements for fullco-production status. According to La Pei Kang,president of China Film Co-Production Corp, the required proportion of Chinesecast and crew has been reduced from half to one third of the production, apercentage that can include nationals from Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong. In addition,corporate tax has been reduced from 25% to 10%, approval shortened to 20 daysand there are no restrictions to shoot the film in China.
In theory, the variousproposed treaties should benefit European producers who want to access localsubsidy systems to make films in Asia and should also make it easier forEuropean films to secure distribution in Asia and vice versa. But finding suitable projects may be easier said thandone.
"Not many of thesestories have been written because so far we haven't created the structure andspace that allows them," acknowledged KS Park, legal advisor to the Korean filmcouncil, KOFIC.
UK producer and consultant Jonathan Olsbergsuggested that subsidy money could go towards "co-development" - putting seedmoney into projects with co-production potential - to stimulate collaborationbetween the continents.
Peter Loehr,managing director of CAA China, disagreed: "Development business is a riskybusiness - I'm more in favour of producers having good ideas and then going outand finding finance."
Loehr warned against collaborating for the wrong reasons: "Make sure you're on the same wavelength and not makingtwo different movies for two different markets."