UK filmcommissioner Steve Norris has called for the British qualifying certificationof UK co-productions to be taken over by the UK Film Council.
Speaking during apanel discussion on co-productions at Screen International's UK Film FinanceSummit in London last week (Oct 21), Norris said that the UK film industryneeded to develop a co-production system that is fast, predictable and run bypeople who understand the business.
"We have a systemin overload, and we have a government department incredibly overworked and inmy view doing an amazing job given the resources they have," Norris said. "Icome from the point of view that certification should move to the UK FilmCouncil and that we should construct a proper certification department."
The UK's co-productionpolicy is the subject of an ongoing review by the UK Film Council, along withresearch group BSAC and producers body PACT, with a view to creating a clearersystem with less potential for abuse, while ensuring that the UK remains anattractive co-production partner.
"One of the costsof securing 100% [the amount of a film's budget that the government's new filmtax break covers] is that treasury and government expect us to get our house inorder in terms of co-productions," said Norris, adding that although "much hasbeen achieved" there was little direct benefit from a slew of minorityco-productions.
But the fact thatthe UK is so reliant on foreign partners means that any new legislationgoverning acceptable UK co-production involvement could have a negative impact.
"There is noquestion that co-productions are an essential component of financing in theUK," said panel chair Margaret Matheson of Bard Entertainments and vice chairof film at PACT. "If we were unable to co-produce there would be a lot fewerfilms."
Uncertaintysurrounding the UK's new tax break was also highlighted as a potentialdifficulty in setting up new co-productions. "We need something with moreclarity so you can shoot your production knowing you'll qualify for a taxcredit at the end of the day," said Steve Joberns, partner at accountancy firmAGN Shipleys.
Also on the panelwas Sirish Malde, from Malde & Co