Training & Funding
A guide to co-producing

A guide to co-producing

Entering into a co-production is an important decision that opens doors to funding and new partnerships. Yet many producers have also experienced that some of these doors lead to lack of control, issues with cultural differences, and unexpected disagreements about contracts—all at the expense of creativity and the film’s production.

The Documentary Conventions in Leipzig 2018 and 2019, organized by AFAC & DOX BOX, took up the challenge of tackling some of these issues. The topic was considered with the firm belief that awareness and clear expectations are as important as financing and budgets, and with one basic ambition: To make better films because of co-production.

During the two editions of the Documentary Convention as well as a think tank at IDFA 2018, film professionals from different backgrounds and countries met to discuss the reality of co-production—from the successes to the disappointments. Over the course of these different sessions, participants formulated and refined the following list of questions to instigate a conversation about co-production. This guide presents these questions in full, as well as other resources to help you on your conscious co-production journey. 

All involved in co-production, including funders, are invited to participate in this conversation and spread the word. If you have ideas for more resources to include in this guide, send us an email at

Questions to ask yourself on the way towards better co-production practice

Case studies

  • Pros and cons of international co-producing for filmmakers from the Global South
  • 'The Distant Barking of Dogs': An international co-production case study

Standards and best practices

  • As seen on the IDA website, the Documentary Producers Alliances (DPA) has set out to find a standard for dealing with some key questions in documentary film practice: How to deal with different investors and funders and their recoupment? What if the filmmakers/producer are investing their own cash into the research or production? How to deal with fee deferments? Read the DPA's Guidelines for the Documentary Waterfall (September 2020 version).
  • The DPA's Guide to Best Practices in Documentary Crediting aims to standardize the crediting landscape of documentary films towards clarity and parity. With standards and best practices in crediting, "funders and investors receive the recognition that they are due (and that filmmakers want them to have); filmmakers can offer and leverage fair credits to funding prospects to get their films made; and the value and meaning of credits are protected (against, among other things, dilution and inconsistency) for filmmakers and their financial partners." Published January 2019.

Additional resources