A guide to co-producing with the UK

Why Co-Produce? It's all about WHO It's all about HOW It's all about WHERE Funding available for British qualifying majority and minority co-productions. FAQS Useful Links

Why Co-Produce?


Please note: A PDF version of this Co-Pro information page is available to download:
A Guide to Co-Producing in the UK (updated May 2022)

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Co-producing allows pooling of creative, financial and technical expertise and resources as well as a sharing of risk.

An official UK co-production is a film production between the UK and one or more countries made under one of the UK’s official bi-lateral co-production treaties or the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production.

Qualifying as an official co-production, and therefore as a British film means eligibility to apply for:

  • UK Film Tax Relief
  • BFI Film Fund
  • UK Global Screen Fund*
  • Support from National film agencies Creative England, Ffilm Cymru, Northern Ireland Screen and Screen Scotland (depending on producer’s location)
  • International sales and distribution support schemes such as the BFI Film
    Export Fund

* UKGSF will support unofficial as well as official co-productions, and requires supported films to qualify as British


Image: Mr. Jones (dir. Agnieszka Holland)

It's all about WHO

Finding the right UK co-producer that shares the same creative vision is key to the success of any project. The BFI can’t recommend individual UK producers, but there are several sources that will help you identify potential partners, including:

  • The British Films Catalogue produced by the British Council Films Department lists more than 3000 British feature films, producers and production companies. The database is searchable by genre and production year.
  • The UK directory of independent producers published by the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) is a comprehensive database of TV and film production companies registered in the UK and their contact details.
  • We Are UK Film brings together the UK's film commissions, national and regional agencies, producers and sales companies under one umbrella to provide clear information about our outstanding locations, services, films and talent.

Image: Vita & Virginia (Dir. Chanya Button)

It's all about HOW

Structuring a UK Co-production.

All treaties have different requirements, but the common principles are:

  • A co-producer from each co-producing country needs to make both a financial contribution and an effective creative, technical and artistic contribution to the film. These need to be broadly in proportion.
  • The creative, technical and artistic contribution of the film needs to be made using personnel, goods and services from the co-producing countries (including personnel from the EEA).
  • The film needs to be made in the co-producing countries (you may be able to shoot in a third country location and some third country personnel may be allowed, but this must not exceed 20%-30% of the budget depending on the treaty being used not exceed 30% of the budget).
  • The co-production status must be applied for at least 4 weeks BEFORE principal photography commences.

In the UK, films can qualify as official co-productions under either:

The European convention on cinematographic productions

In June 2021 The UK signed the revised European convention which means:

  • Bilateral, the minimum finance is now 10% (previously 20%) and the maximum 90% (Previously 80%);
  • multilateral, the minimum finance is now 5% (previously 10%) and the maximum
    90% (previously 80%)

The above changes apply only where all countries participating have ratified to the new convention. The revised treaty will continue to be regulated by the 1994 Convention.

One of the UK's official bi-lateral co-production treaties

Active Treaties:

Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Israel, Jamaica, Morocco, New Zealand, Occupied Palestinian Territories, South Africa

Financial contributions:

  • 20% minimum for all countries except for Australia (minimum of 30%)

Please note the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production does
not allow for TV, and only the Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, New Zealand,
Occupied Palestinian Territories and South Africa bilateral treaties allow for TV.
China has a separate TV treaty with the UK.

Unofficial Co-Productions

The UK can also co-produce with countries with whom it does not have a treaty. This involves qualifying as a British film under the Cultural Test (see It’s all about WHERE’)

Image: Falling (dir. Viggo Mortensen)

It's all about WHERE

The UK Tax Credit Relief


Download a BFI (British Film Institute) leaflet here with further information:

British Certification and Tax Relief (PDF)

In order to access the UK’s film tax relief, a film needs to qualify as British in one of two ways:

  • As an official co-production (as per ‘It’s all about HOW)
  • Under the UK’s film cultural test.

The cultural test is a points-based test where the project will need to achieve 18 of a possible 35 points to pass.

Eligible costs: UK core expenditure for the purposes of the tax relief is defined on that which is used or consumed on the soil of the UK rather than by the nationality of the people, goods and services.

Since the tax credit is claimed through the company’s corporate tax return, all eligible costs need to be incurred by the UK co-producer.

UK core spend: minimum of 10%

Applicant: UK producer - needs to be a limited liability film production company (FPC) within the charge of UK Corporation tax net and the company must be incorporated before principal photography begins.

Application deadlines: Applicants can apply for interim certification at any point before or during production. Interim certification is essential if you wish to claim film tax relief during production. A final application must be submitted once the film is complete and ready to be viewed by an audience.

Other eligibility requirements: Films need to be intended for theatrical release.

Value of the tax credit

The UK Film Production Company can claim tax relief of up to 25% of UK qualifying expenditure. This is available on a maximum of 80% of total UK core expenditure. There is no cap on the amount which can be claimed.

Image: Dirty God (Dir. Sacha Polak)

Funding available for British qualifying majority and minority co-productions.

BFI FILM FUND

With over £26m to invest a year, the BFI Film Fund is the UK's largest public investor in film - supporting first-class filmmaking through development and production, to distribution and international sales.

Some of the BFI Production Fund’s awards are made to international
co-productions. In addition to supporting projects that meet the Film Fund’s
core objectives, priority will be given to projects where:

  • A world-class, non-British filmmaker wishes to engage with UK talent or cultural content;
  • UK involvement elevates the project’s creative or commercial potential;
  • The project gives an opportunity to an outstanding, emerging talent from the UK.

Please refer to the Production Fund guidelines for more information on how
to apply for this funding. There are no application deadlines, so please apply
when the script is complete and when the team is ready to share their vision
for the film, supported by a strategic plan for making it.

UK GLOBAL SCREEN FUND

This new £7 million pilot fund was launched in April 2021, focused on accelerating
export growth, boosting revenues to independent UK screen companies and
deepening international relationships. The International Co-production strand
has been developed to support UK producers to work as partners on international
co-productions and help create new global projects.

Financed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and administered by the BFI, the fund offers non-recoupable grants of up to £300,000 for UK independent companies to apply as minority co-producers for feature films of all genres, and as majority and minority
co-producers for TV projects in animation and documentary genre.

Image: Sorry We Missed You (Dir. Ken Loach)

FAQS

Is there a distinction between qualifying spend for co-productions and the UK tax relief?

Yes. For co-productions, qualifying spend can include goods, services, facilities and personnel from the UK, regardless of whether it is spent in the UK or elsewhere in the world. This spend will contribute towards your co-production contribution (see 'Its all about HOW').

For tax relief purposes, qualifying spend can only include what was used and consumed in the UK rather than by the nationality of the people, goods and services. All qualifying costs need to be incurred by the UK co-producer since the tax relief is claimed through the company's corporate tax return (see it's all about WHERE').

Qualifying spend for co-production (WHO is incurring the expenditure)

UK cast & crew

  • Personnel, goods and services from the co-producing countries count towards co-production contribution.
  • Example: UK personnel fees regardless of in or outside of the UK.

Qualifying spend for tax relief purposes (WHERE is the expenditure incurred)

Cast & crew in the UK

  • UK core expenditure used and consumed on UK soil and incurred by the UK production company = eligible for tax rebate
  • Example: cast and crew fees regardless of nationality where their services are used or consumed in the UK.

Can the UK still co-produce with EU partners?

All co-production agreements including the bi-lateral co-production treaties
and the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production ratified by
the UK remain in place after the UK’s exit from the EU. The Convention is
governed by the Council of Europe, not the European Union, and the UK will
continue to be a party to the Convention.

Can the BFI suggest possible co–production partners for my production?

The BFI can’t recommend individual UK producers, but there are several sources
that will help you identify potential partners (see ‘It’s all about WHO’).


When do I need to register my co–production at the competent authority in
the UK?

Applications for interim or final approval under the co-production agreements
should be made to the BFI Certification Unit. Applications for interim approval
should be made at least four weeks before the start of principal photography.
Final approval will only be granted once the film is completed. (See Useful Links)