Australia is a great place to make film and television
Film and television made in Australia has been entertaining global audiences for 40 years. We make bold features, fish-out-of-water comedies, moving masterpieces, and edgy dramas. And long-running family series, clever live-action and animated children’s programming, quality adult drama, and intriguing documentaries.
Australian producers, directors and writers have experience, expertise and extensive international contacts in some of the world’s most significant markets, making them excellent production partners.
They also live in an environment that suits production: the country is economically and politically stable, the government supports the industry in a range of ways; the filmmaking services and facilities available are highly sophisticated; cast and crew are world class and have a good attitude; a big range of locations are accessible; and the weather is more often good than bad.
Australian Government Support
The Australian Government provides financial support to the Australian production industry through:
Direct support in development and production through Screen Australia
Indirect support through the Australian Screen Production Incentive.
The Australian Screen Production Incentive is made up of three mutually exclusive, uncapped tax offsets (akin to rebates):
- The 16.5% Location Offset to attract large budget offshore film and TV production to work in Australia
- The 30% PDV Offset (Post, Digital and Visual effects production) to encourage production companies to work with Australia’s world-class VFX, animation and post production sector
- The Producer Offset (40% for feature films and 20% for non-features) for Australian projects and official co-productions.
Screen Australia administers the Producer Offset.
For information on the Location and PDV Offsets, please visit www.arts. gov.au/film-tv/australian-screen-production-incentive. For information on all aspects of producing in Australia, including locations and crews, contact ausfilm.com.au.
The Producer Offset cements Australia’s appeal
The financing systems currently in place are adding to Australia’s appeal as a production partner. This is particularly because of the Producer Offset, which has the effect of giving Australian producers a guaranteed source of finance.
The Producer Offset is a rebate on the production expenditure incurred in Australia when making Australian film and TV. Not all expenditure qualifies, but the Offset can be worth up to 20% of Australian spend in the case of television and documentary, and up to 40% in the case of film.
The Producer Offset is having a positive effect, in particular by assisting entrepreneurial film producers to attract bigger, broader audiences by making films with more mainstream appeal.
In addition to this form of subsidy, Screen Australia invests in Australian film, television drama and documentary.
Official co-productions can access the Producer Offset
The Producer Offset was put in place to deliver ongoing cultural, professional and economic gains to the Australian screen industry, and can only be claimed on Australian film, television and some other screen content. An eligibility test called the ‘significant Australian content’ (SAC) test is used to determine whether a project is ‘Australian’.
However, Australia recognises that film and television is a global business and that the presence of international elements, the involvement of international partners and accessing offshore finance can considerably increase the country’s competitiveness. This means that projects with some non-Australian elements may still be able to meet the SAC test and, in the case of official co-productions, they will automatically bypass the SAC test allowing them access to the Producer Offset.
Australia’s desire to partner with international producers means they can also share in the benefits and successes of the Producer Offset. One way is via co-productions. Film and television made under Australia’s official co-production arrangements is automatically regarded as Australian (just as it is regarded as domestic production in the partner country), and is therefore eligible for the Producer Offset – providing it meets other criteria too. Projects must spend a certain amount in Australia, for example, and be finished before a claim is lodged.
Australia has official co-production treaty arrangements with Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Korea, Singapore, South Africa and the United Kingdom, and memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with France and New Zealand.
There is no official co-production arrangement between Australia and the US, but Australia has a long history of making blockbusters with the support of the US studios. Certain projects with US support may be able to access the Producer Offset.
Many US footloose productions have also been made in Australia over several decades. Big-budget projects which are not Australian may be eligible for either the 16.5% Location Offset or the 30% PDV (post, digital and visual effects) Offset.
The SAC test is one of the key tests used to determine eligibility for the Producer Offset (40% for features and 20% for non-features).
A production does not have ‘significant Australian content’ just because all production and post-production occurs within Australia. To meet the SAC test, applicants must demonstrate that other aspects of their project are Australian. Perhaps the subject matter or setting is Australian, or the copyright is held by Australians, or any profits will flow to Australians, or all the development occurred in Australia, or the key creative positions are held by Australians.
A rigorous approach is taken to the determination of whether a project has significant Australian content. Whether Australians have been driving the project right through development and production is always a key issue.