France’s iconic locations are in high demand from international producers following improvements to the country’s financial incentives.
France has turned around its reputation as an expensive territory in which to shoot following significant enhancements to the tax rebate for international production (TRIP) as well as fiscal incentives for local filmmakers at the beginning of 2016. This had a near immediate positive impact on the number of international productions shooting in the country.
According to the CNC, the number of international productions shooting at least partly in France rose to 52 in 2017, from 22 in 2016, which was already regarded as a bumper year by comparison with the activity in the previous five years.
Incoming films have included Universal’s MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN, which touched down in Bordeaux, 20th Century Fox’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, which filmed plate shots in the French Alps, as well as Universal’s FIFTY SHADES FREED and JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN, which both visited the south of France. As ever, there were a number of Paris-bound productions including Warner Bros’ THE 15:17 TO PARIS, Indian hitman comedy-thriller JUNGA and Paramount’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE — FALLOUT. The latter employed 440 crew and spent $30.7m (¤25m) in Paris during its two-month shoot.
This upward trend continued in 2018 with films and high-end dramas that shot in France including the two-hour finale of Netflix’s sci-fi drama SENSE8 and Netflix’s THE EDDY, a musical drama set in Paris and directed by Damien Chazelle.
French productions have also started returning home following better terms for the credit d’impot fiscal incentives aimed at local films. According to CNC figures, French films generated 88% of their expenses in France in 2017, against 63% in 2016. Paris was the biggest beneficiary of this trend, registering a 23% rise in overall filming activity, with more than 1,000 individual shoots on its streets in 2017.
France’s tax rebate for international production (TRIP) is aimed at non-French films shooting fully or partly in France. Applications have to pass a cultural test related to the European and French elements in the story. The rebate is 30% of the eligible French spend with a cap of $37m (€30m). Live-action features need to shoot for at least five days in the country and spend at least $307,000 (€250,000) or 50% of the budget to qualify.
Infrastructure and crews
France has a good supply of skilled crews and production staff as well as a number of studio facilities due to the country’s large film and TV production scene. According to Audiens — which manages pensions and social-security payments for employees of the cultural sector — there are 30,000 people working in cinema in the Ile de France region alone, which includes Paris. France’s top technicians are regularly hired for international shoots at home and abroad and most speak English. The main studio in the capital is Les Studios de Paris, at which Luc Besson has shot many of his recent features including VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS. Although closely involved with the eight-stage facility, Besson does not control the studio and non-EuropaCorp productions are welcome. The Studios of Bry-Sur-Marne complex, just outside Paris, is enjoying a revival having been saved from closure in 2015. The eight-stage facility played host to the BBC and Canal Plus’ high-end drama series VERSAILLES. Outside the capital, key venues include Provence Studios (in the south) and Rhone Alpes Studios (east). Also in the south, Provence Studios is reportedly forming an alliance with the historic Studios de la Victorine to create a regional production hub. A business plan for the venture is expected in early 2019.
France is the largest territory in Europe at 211,208 square miles. It has good air, road and rail networks and getting around is straightforward. The 750-kilometre journey between Paris and Marseille takes three hours via high-speed train and it is a one-and-a-half-hour train ride to Brussels from Paris, four hours to Milan and three hours to London. It is a 10-minute taxi ride from Les Studios de Paris to the major hotel and shopping districts in central Paris, while the Studios de Bry-Sur-Marne are a 40-minute train ride from central Paris and lie 35 kilometres from Charles de Gaulle airport.