The upside of co-production


One need only look at the latest Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom stats to see
the successes a film partnership can yield, and with Digital Terrestrial Television
(DTT) migration on the horizon, co-production offers an opportunity to fill the
need for new, good quality content.

From a Pan-African point of view, filmmakers are still hesitant to enter into
collaborations, preferring to do everything independently. Though there are
criticisms for producing within this model, which include the potential for
increased costs, the negation of cultural integrity and a loss of control,
observations tell us that the upside far compensates the downside. Speaking at
DISCOP Africa, authorities in the industry weighed in on the business of co-

Alex Kwame Boadi, President and MD of the Ghana Producers Guild, believes that
this way of thinking is behind the times and that the continent needs to catch

“When people pull together, they produce better quality. They can move
forward, tell their stories and make money,’ he commented.

South Africa has been involved in a number of international co-productions that
have gone on to receive high acclaim, such as The Bang Bang Club which was
co-produced with Canada, Death Race which was a German co-production and
most notably Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom a co-production with the UK.

Christopher Foot, Chairman of the Kenya Film Commission, said that taking
advantage of international co-production treaties can provide a number of
benefits to a production. “Financially and creatively, going into a co-production
with another country can allow access to all the benefits and incentives of that
country. It can provide access to their markets, which is hugely beneficial. It
provides access to stars who are otherwise unaffordable, and access to bigger

It should also offer an element of cultural dynamic which could assist in building
local content. For example, with the movie The Fifth Estate, part of the film had
to showcase a part of the culture.’

There are also a variety of ways to engage in co-production with local
broadcasters. Che Che Mazoka, Head of funding and partnerships at the South
African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), said: “The time is ripe to get together
and produce content for the rest of the continent and the world.’

According to Mazoka, the SABC is looking to collaborate on productions and
encourages the submission of proposals for review by the co-production team.
She referenced the award-winning drama series Intersexions, which had good
enough content and subject matter to obtain a contribution from the SABC.

“We are looking for ideas and financial models that resonate with the SABC, and
we can offer productions exposure,’ she added.

However, Terrence Khumalo, Film Certification Manager at the National Film and
Video Foundation (NFVF), said that it was important to do the research and
planning before taking on a co-production partner.

He concluded: “Co-productions are not a blind date. Make sure that you check
your potential partner’s credibility and assess how the partnering will benefit
your production.’


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