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Answers to some common questions about coproductions and the coproduction process can be found in this section. If the answers you’re looking for don’t appear below, please contact us. We’re here to help.

Coproduction Agreements
Evaluation Process for a Preliminary Recommendation
  Application and Required Documents
Citizenship / Residence
Third-Party Participation
Key Creative Position
Foreign Partners
Coproduction Agreements

What is a coproduction agreement, and why do I need one?

Coproductions are joint film and television productions that are shared between two or more countries, and they play an important role in the Canadian audiovisual industry.

Coproduction agreements enable Canadian and foreign producers to pool their creative, artistic, technical and financial resources to coproduce projects that enjoy the status of national productions in the countries involved.

Telefilm administers these coproduction agreements on behalf of the Canadian government.

How do I go about applying for coproduction status for my film or television project?

First, read the International Coproduction Guidelines. All the documents and forms referred to in the International Coproduction Guidelines that will help you with the application process are available here.

Who is responsible for negotiating Canada’s international coproduction agreements?

The Minister of Canadian Heritage is responsible for negotiating all agreements governing international coproductions. Telefilm is the administrative authority acting on behalf of Canadian Heritage in assessing applications for coproduction certification. For more information, contact the Film and Video Policy Department of Canadian Heritage.

What is the process once Telefilm receives an application for coproduction?

Telefilm verifies that the application form is properly completed and signed, and that the essential documents (identified by an asterisk on the application form) are included. The applicant is then notified that their application has been received and whether there are any documents missing. Once the application is complete, it undergoes a risk assessment. If this assessment reveals any major concern, the applicant is notified. If there are no major concerns, then the project is assigned an analyst who will proceed with the evaluation within the time limit set out in the Customer Service Charter.

Can Telefilm recommend coproduction status for a project if it has already been rejected by the competent authority of a coproducing country?

No; a project must be jointly recognized by the competent authorities of the coproducing countries.

Can Telefilm recommend coproduction status for a project “ad hoc” if there is no agreement between Canada and the country of my coproducer?

No; a project can only be certified if a fully executed and valid agreement exists between Canada and the country in question.

I have a new media project with a foreign partner. Can it be considered an official coproduction?

To date there is no signed treaty with Canada that covers new media; therefore, at this time, official coproduction status is not possible. However, in a hybrid project containing both a traditional screen-based component (film or television) and a new media component, the traditional component may be recognized as a coporoduction, if it respects the applicable agreement.

My project seems to contain elements that could make it ineligible for coproduction status. What should I do?

First, contact an analyst in Telefilm’s Coproduction Certification Department who will be pleased to discuss the issue with you.  If you believe that our guidelines and the applicable agreement for your project leave room for interpretation, you may wish to submit a business case to the Coproduction Certification Department.

I’ve contacted the Coproduction Certification Department to discuss the eligibility of my project. What recourse do I have if I’m not satisfied by the outcome of our discussions? 

As with all of Telefilm Canada’s programs, certification of coproductions must respect the Customer Service Charter. This charter specifies the measures you can take regarding the appeal of decisions we’ve taken.

Where can I find documentation regarding international coproductions?

All the documents and forms referred to in the International Coproduction Guidelines are available here.

Do I need to apply for a preliminary recommendation 30 days prior to principal photography?

Yes, except in the case of animation projects or series (see special conditions below). Every effort should be made to comply with the deadlines set out in the coproduction agreements. Projects that fail to comply with these deadlines may occasionally receive special consideration. In these instances, applicants may contact the Coproduction Certification Department.

Special conditions for animation
Single production: Submit application at the time of key animation.
Series: Submit application upon production of a video master of first episode, at the latest. 

If I’m unable to provide all the documents required when I apply for a preliminary recommendation, will my project be evaluated?

Certain documents must be submitted before a project can be evaluated. They are identified with an asterisk in the list of required documents on the preliminary recommendation application form. The remaining documents may be submitted during the evaluation process.

Can I apply for a preliminary recommendation if I haven’t signed a coproduction agreement with my partner?

Yes; you can submit a short form of the coproduction agreement (a Deal Memo). It must be signed and must contain certain information (see the List of Minimum Required Elements in a Coproduction Short Form or Deal Memo). However, if the minimum required elements are note present in the Deal Memo, a detailed coproduction agreement could be requested in order for the preliminary recommendation to be issued.

I am coproducing a 26-episode animation series. I haven’t hired all the writers yet, and some may be hired by my coproducer. Since Telefilm Canada requires a complete chain of title, will this prevent issuance of a preliminary recommendation?

No; Telefilm may issue a preliminary recommendation even though not all writing contracts have been submitted to us. We do ask that you try to submit all signed scriptwriting contracts at the time of application, regardless of the screenwriter’s nationality, as well as all affidavits signed by Canadian screenwriters.  Any missing contracts must be supplied to Telefilm Canada as soon as they are signed, accompanied by the Creator’s Affidavit if Canadian screenwriters are involved.  We will conduct a case-by-case evaluation if we receive enough contracts to issue a preliminary recommendation.

Do I need to complete a Canadian Producer Affidavit – Preliminary Recommendation for every Canadian screenwriter?

When Canadian screenwriters are hired by a Canadian producer, the producer is required to complete a Canadian Producer Affidavit – Preliminary Recommendation.  This document is valid for an author who has written several scripts in a series or who has worked in multiple capacities on a production (e.g. writer and main author), and is also valid for several screenwriters at once. Canadian writers must fill out the Creator’s Affidavit. Click here for instructions on How to Use the Affidavits.

Note:  When the final recommendation application is submitted, the producer must submit a new Affidavit to either confirm or invalidate the list of hired screenwriters using the Canadian Producer Affidavit – Final Recommendation.

Do I need to submit another Canadian Status of Corporation and Corporate Information Affidavit for each application?

Not necessarily. If you have already submitted this document within the last year as part of another Telefilm application and there have been no changes, it’s not necessary to submit another one. If there is a new company or there have been changes, then you must submit it again.

I am coproducing a new animation series with several screenwriters. What is the best way to manage the quantity of contracts and affidavits?

The best thing to do is to prepare the Creator’s Affidavit and have it available at the same time as the contract(s) so that Telefilm can receive all documents simultaneously as soon as they are signed.

Please remember to also send the original of the Creator’s Affidavit to Telefilm by mail.

I’d like to submit my project for preliminary recommendation under an official coproduction agreement. The screenwriter, who resides in a third-party country, wrote the script while still awaiting his permanent residency status. Is my project eligible?

Writers must have permanent resident status in Canada at the time that the creative work is executed.

I hold a dual citizenship. Which country will my creative participation be attributed to?


A dual citizen may not claim both nationalities for the same project. The project producers will select which country your creative participation will be attributed to, and this choice must remain valid throughout the entire project.

I’m a Canadian Director residing in the United States.  May I participate in a coproduction as part of the Canadian key creative personnel, even though I do not pay taxes in Canada?

Yes, because you still have Canadian citizenship. 

I have acquired the rights to an audiovisual concept form a third-party country. Is my project eligible?

Yes, provided that you can demonstrate that the concept has been significantly developed by yourself or your coproducer since the time of acquisition.

My coproducer and I have secured the rights to a published work and have hired the American author of the work to serve as a consultant on our production. Is this allowed?

Yes; a writing consultant from a third-party country may be eligible under certain conditions. In this case, the applicant should justify the reason for selecting the consultant and provide Telefilm with the consultant’s contract. The contract must contain all relevant information regarding the deliverables. We may request other documents we deem important in our assessment of the nature of the involvement of the consultant from the third-party country.

My coproducer and I have decided to shoot certain scenes in-studio, but in a third-party country. Is this allowed?

No. Only exterior scenes may be shot in a third-party country, when required by the screenplay.

CAVCO allows for 25% of the production budget to be spent in a third-party country. Does this rule apply to coproductions?

No; coproduction expenses may not be incurred in a third-party country unless the script calls for shooting there, or if, for technical reasons, certain work cannot be carried out in the coproducing countries. In such cases, all expenses incurred in the third-party country must receive prior approval from Telefilm Canada and the foreign competent authorities. Such expenses may concern shooting crews, under certain conditions:

  • Technicians: Third-party technicians may be hired if they fill non-creative positions (see the Third Party Shooting – Crew List). However, Telefilm Canada cannot approve the hiring of a shooting crew in a third-party country when it is for financial reasons.
  • Animation Films: Telefilm Canada allows subcontracting of technical animation work to a third-party country up to a maximum value of 25% of the total project budget, if permitted under the applicable coproduction agreement and subject to approval by foreign authorities.
  • Actors: All agreements allow for the participation of at least one actor from a third-party country.

Are the lead and supporting roles defined by the performer’s screen time or fees?

Given the disparity in fees from country to country, lead roles and supporting roles are defined solely on the basis of screen time.

I would like to do a bipartite coproduction. My coproducer will finance 60% of the production and I will finance the remaining 40%. How should I divide up the key creative positions?

The breakdown of key creative positions between coproducers must be proportionate to their respective financial contributions. Telefilm Canada has identified a certain number of key creative positions; this list appears in the International Coproduction Guidelines. If in doubt with regard to creative balance, or if the project has an atypical structure, please contact us to discuss the matter. We’d be pleased to assist you.

When evaluating a project for coproduction status, do you take into consideration the shooting location and post-production location in creative positions?

Aside from the key positions mentioned in Telefilm’s guidelines, it is possible to consider certain specific elements when evaluating a project. There are tools available on the Telefilm’s website to evaluate the distribution of key creative positions and technical positions: The Creative Evaluation Grid.

Do the financial, creative and technical elements of a coproduction project have to be mutually proportionate?

Yes; the following four elements must be shared and proportionate to the financial participation of each coproducer:

  • Revenues
  • Creative and technical positions
  • Expenses
  • Copyright ownership

I provided 45% of the financing for a television series I coproduced, but my expenses for the Canadian elements amount to 40% of the total budget. Is this an issue?

There is a fundamental principle in coproduction: copyright ownership, financing, creative contributions, revenues and expenses should all be in equal proportion. In the above example, the Canadian producer should contact Telefilm Canada as soon as possible to discuss the situation. Telefilm assesses every project on a case-by-case basis.

An investor from a third-party country has financed 60% of my project’s total production budget. How much of the profit may I give him?

The portion of profit that the Canadian producer receives (after recovery of production costs) must be at least equal to the higher of the two following amounts: either the minimum treaty participation, or the Canadian portion of the coproduction.

I would like to coproduce a project with two other countries, one of which has no agreement with Canada. Is it possible to involve a third country in this project?

Yes, providing that the other coproducing country has signed a coproduction agreement with the third-party country.

How many partners (coproducers) may be involved in my coproduction project?

In general, the minimum set out by the coproduction agreements is 20% of the total budget and the maximum number of coproducers is five. It is important to note that the more countries that are involved in a coproduction, the more challenging it will be to meet the minimum requirements of each financial partner.

How do I go about finding a foreign partner for my coproduction project?

We’re here to help. There are many resources available to assist Canadian producers in finding foreign partners:

  • Register for the international festivals and markets where Telefilm and its provincial partners offer a host of services and activities;
  • Register for coproduction forums in Canada and abroad;
  • Attend film and television industry events and conferences;
  • Attend producer initiatives abroad. Associations such as the CFTPA and APFTQ can provide guidance for its members;
  • Consult our Coproduction Directory and our Partnering with Canada microsite; and
  • Reach out to the industry – ask for feedback from Canadian producers who have previously coproduced with foreign producers you’re interested in.

What’s the key to successfully seeing my coproduction project through?

There are many factors involved in the successful execution of a coproduction project, and Telefilm Canada will partner with you to provide guidance and support along the way.

First and foremost though, you must find a coproduction partner with whom you can foster a trusting and long-term working relationship.

Why do I need to indicate the nationality of each participant on the projected credits that I submit to Telefilm Canada?

As outlined in the coproduction agreements, Telefilm needs this information in order to verify that all participants in the coproduction (both individuals and companies) are nationals from the coproducing countries, with the exception of personnel from a third-party country whose involvement Telefilm has approved.

What about mentioning the producer in the credits?

The credits of the coproducing companies and their representatives must be equal in position and size, fairly reflecting their collaboration.