Co-productions are big opportunities for film makers, directors
and the cast as they bring artists from different nations together
and create multinational pieces of art. They are also provided
financial support based on certain eligibility criteria from
national and EU authorities. On one hand they have financial,
artistic and marketing advantages for the film but on the other
hand, they involve some risks in relation to management of the
Creating a balanced structure both for day to day management and
financial liabilities of parties is crucial for the co-production.
If this balance is not established on a fair basis, even the
co-producers with good intentions might find themselves in a
Before drafting the agreement, co-producers should carefully
work on the budget in order to determine liabilities of parties and
requirements of funding institutions. However, most of the time
this budget will be subject to change since the initial plans are
made on assumptions and not on approved funds or cash flows.
Including flexible provisions is a good way for amending the budget
in order to meet the changing demands along the production
Intellectual Property Rights
The other essential headline is the intellectual property rights
of the film and their ownership. As a basic rule, the rights should
be jointly owned by all co-producers pro rata to their shares and
the appointment of worldwide distributor should be decided jointly.
Another point for co-producers to decide should be the
exclusive and shared territories and application
for national funds should be taken into consideration. When
defining the territories, it is better to be as specific as it gets
to prevent future discussions (e.g. do Benelux rights include
French-speaking rights?). IFTA guides and documents may
be considered as a framework and broadcast overspill issues and
required technologies should be regulated under the co-production
agreement as well as the distribution agreements. In case of
application to more than one national or regional funding, the
relation between such funds, restrictions, methods for changing
co-producer shares and required documents should be carefully
Appointing one or two delegate producers for day to day
management of the production and major decisions is usually
favorable for the sake of the film. National and international
funds will usually need one delegate producer for the application
procedures which will ease the paperwork and application process
but it should be carefully designed under the co-production
agreement in order to protect rights of other co-producers.
The structure of the deals and projects will vary in practice.
Most of the time, one of the co-producers will be the lead producer
who wants to have a final say on the creative and artistic part of
the production. However, since the other parties will also be
co-producers (and not only co-financers) this artistic authority
should be discussed, maybe restricted in certain ways and agreed
upon prior to starting a co-production.
It is also advised that these major points as well as other
commercial terms are evaluated and the co-production agreement is
signed before the production starts. Otherwise several contractual
matters may be deemed as deadlock situations and the production may
suffer from the dispute. Each co-producer should investigate the
financial background and reference projects of other co-producers
to avoid surprises during the production.
Underlying rights, funding, over-cost, underspend situations,
insurance and credits are some of the other headlines to be
considered in co-productions. Co-production of films should be
evaluated as building a new structure where each level and third
party relations should be solidly constructed by co-producers and
their legal advisors experienced in this field.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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