The co-production of films between France and the countries of South East Asia is relatively confidential. Nevertheless, interesting projects and partnerships can be developed and it is interesting to look at existing possibilities.
There is little co-production treaties, co-production agreements between France and Cambodia and between France and Australia do exist. In addition, local fundings exist and the recourse to the World Cinema fund from National French CNC has to be studied.
The films produced under these co-production agreements have the status of national film in both countries and as a consequence can benefit from the aids and funds reserved for national films in each country.
The French-Australian treaty is relatively old as it has been signed in 1986, and provides that the contributions of Australian co-producers must be between 40 and 80%, those of French co-producers between 20 and 60%. It is provided that the minority co-producer shall be required to provide an effective technical and artistic contribution. In principle, the minority co-producer’s contribution as regards creative staff, technicians and actors/actresses shall be in proportion to its investment. In exceptional circumstances, exceptions thereto may be granted.
The French-Cambodian treaty entered in 2013 is written in more common terms: the proportion of the respective contributions of the co-producers may vary from 20 to 80% of the total co-production budget, with a derogation to a minimum of 10%. The technical and artistic participation of the co-producers should intervene if possible in the same proportion as their financial contributions.
It should also be noted that in 2017, it was clearly stated that a French-Indonesian co-production treaty was to be established, as a result of the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Indonesian Agency for Creative Economy (BEKRAF) and the French CNC to develop cooperation in the field of cinema and audiovisual.
National and local fundings
We will obviously not be exhaustive here, but can evoke some national and local fundings in South East Asia.
In Australia, Screen Australia offers a wide variety of support at the national level. Many regional aids are also available (Screen Tasmania, Victoria Film, Screen Queensland etc.).
At the local scale, we can detail the conditions of the funding program for the production of feature films. Finance must be in place, and distributor and international sales agent must be attached to the project. Production funding can be up to $2 million; generally accounting for no more than 65% of budget, with a possible exemption at 75%. Completion funding is also available and up to $250,000.
In Thailand, a tax credit scheme is open to foreign companies, up to 15% with a maximum of 75,000,000 Baht (approximately € 2.07 million) when expenditure in Thailand exceeds 50 million Baht (approx € 1.38M), bonuses of 3 and 2% are possible for the employment of Thai key personnel or if the picture promotes tourism in Thailand.
In Malaysia, the National Film Development Corporation also offers a tax credit of up to 30% of local eligible expenses, notably for film and audiovisual production, in the fields of fiction, documentary animation and cross-media projects. This tax credit is open to local and foreign companies.
In Singapore, Media development authority offers different aids and notably a production assistance for productions with original IPs that highlight Singapore talents in credited roles, and infuse data and/or digital technologies into content for distribution on new and/or digital platforms.
This aid is available for Singapore-registered companies that engage in info-communications, media and related activities. And companies who have adopted the TS Media Freelancers (https://www.imda.gov.sg/imtalent/programmes/ts-for-media-freelancers).
IMDA will support up to 40%* of a project’s qualifying costs that are directly linked to the project including notably manpower, professional services, squipment (Hardware et Software) and Intellectual Property.
A support for the development of new formats is also available and can be up to 70% of eligible costs.
In December 2018 was announced the creation of support for the Asian film coproduction, to be implemented in 2019. To be eligible, a project must involve a producer from Singapore and a director from one of the countries of Southeast Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The subsidy is capped at 50% of the production budget (excluding marketing costs), with only 50% of the amount to be spent in Singapore. This new subsidy is said to inspired by the French Aide au cinéma du monde, which we will detail below.
World Cinema Fund
WCF is the privileged French fund for the production of a film directed by foreign filmmakers. It is granted to foreign feature-length film projects to be primarily distributed in theatre and supports an average of 50 projects per year.
This aid is divided in two different supports: Pre-filming subsidies and Post-filming subsidies. It is to be noted that only projects rejected at the pre-filming stage may apply for post-filming subsidies.
In order to be eligible to WCF, The film must be a coproduced by a production company established in France and one that is not and must be directed by a non-French director.
WCF support has a ceiling There of € 250,000 for pre-filming subsidy (average per film is € 120 000) and of € 50,000 for post-filming subsidy (mostly between 30 and 50 000 €). It is further provided that the support may not exceed 50% of the French financing. However, this limit is raised to 80% for a director’s first or second film, for films with a budget lower than € 1,250,000, or for co-productions with low-income countries as defined by CNC such as Cambodia, Laos, Thaïland and Vietnam.
Among the films recently supported, it is possible to mention "Anatomy of time" by Jakrawal and « Manta Ray » Aroonpheng Phuttiphong co-produced with Thailand, each of which received a production aid of € 100,000 or even more « taste » by Le Bao (Vietnam) supported up to 110 000 €, and Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babakby Mouly Surya - (Indonesia) supported up to 120 000 €.
The last commission also selected "Memoria" from Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand) and "White building" from Kavich Neang (Cambodia).
It should be noted here that the approval of investments is mandatory for all films produced under official co-production treaties and that approval of production is mandatory in any and all circumstances. It is therefore essential to ensure that the frame of such approval is respected during the development of the co-production. If necessary, a guarantee clause may be inserted in the coproduction agreements.
Regarding post-filming subsidy, the post-production budget in France must at least reach 50% of the granted amount.
In view of the above, it appears that collaborations between France and South East Asia can be considered in the context of the development and production of films. Within such international collaborations, it is essential to ensure that the relationships between producers and their partners are effectively framed both for development, production and distribution of the films. To do so and in order to meet the needs of the producers, it is strongly advised to resort to a specialized legal counsel.