India-Britain co-production treaty kicks off with ‘London Dreams’October 23rd, 2008 - 11:28 am ICT by IANS
London, Oct 23 (IANS) The historic India-Britain film co-production treaty has come into force with British Culture Minister Barbara Follett launching it on the Trafalgar Square sets of Vipul Shah’s Ajay Devgan starrer “London Dreams”.”London Dreams” is Shah’s latest venture after “Singh is Kinng” and “Namaste London”. On Wednesday, Shah and Devgan were present on the sets and the unit also got permission to shoot Trafalgar Square from a helicopter.
The coming into force of the treaty means that any Indian filmmaker who wants to collaborate with a British producer under the treaty will now have access to a range of benefits including tax breaks, sources of funding and practical support.
Follett said, as quoted by popular British website on Indian entertainment, chaisamosa.com: “Any Indian filmmaker who wants to collaborate with a British producer will find it more financially worthwhile. We can also offer a mature production infrastructure and share expertise between the two countries’ film industries.
“I am delighted to see some of the biggest names in Bollywood filming in the heart of London and hope to see many similar co-productions being filmed around the UK in the coming years.”
Shah told BBC News: “I think that more films will be made in London, primarily for Indian markets. Working with crews in their own cities is a great thing. They know the systems, how the shoots function in that particular city, how to get permissions, how to move things. It’s always very important.”
Devgan said of the current trend of Indian films being made for international audiences: “I guess they are changing to adapt to the audience. We’re just trying to cater for them.”
The main body of the treaty was signed by former secretary of state Tessa Jowell and India’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting P.R. Dasmunshi in New Delhi Dec 5, 2005. Negotiations on the detailed annex to the agreement were completed and signed in June 2008.
Without the treaty, British-Indian co-productions would have to pass the Britain cultural test to qualify for tax relief. Most would be unlikely to, particularly if they were in a non-Council of Europe language like Hindi or Tamil. The treaty allows co-produced films to bypass this test. This means they are granted national status in both countries. And this means they can gain access to the new Britain tax relief, said to be one of the most generous and competitive tax reliefs in the world.
Films made under the UK-Indian co-production treaty can also benefit from possible funding from the UK Film Council, support to help them sell their films at international festivals and increased access to EU markets and TV sales.
The treaty will also indirectly support a range of businesses. This includes British-Indian suppliers, which support filmmakers with anything from costumes to caterers, British-Indian owned cinemas who are likely to show the films and the British tourist industry.
Minister Follett said the Britain industry offered “an excellent product” and the deal would help “maintain excellence”. “The wider your base, in an economically difficult time, the more resilient you’ll be,” BBC News quoted her as saying, in the context of the treaty helping Britain economically.
The official website of the British department for culture, media and sport said: “As a direct result of the treaty, it is expected that as many as ten film projects will go into production in the next two years, providing jobs, entertainment and cultural benefits to two of the world’s great cinema-going nations.”
The website acknowledges Hindi films as “the most successful of non-English language films” in Britain and adds: “There were 2.6 million viewers of Hindi films in the UK in 2005, and Indian films accounted for over 16 percent of all releases, raking 12.4 million pounds at the box office.”