Gallic plan flips coin to writers, distrib'n

PARIS — Culture Minister Catherine Tasca has unveiled measures to boost script writing and film distribution in France.

Centre Nationale de la Cinematographie (CNC) will up its budget for writing and development from 15 million francs ($2 million) in 2001 to $3.4 million by 2003.

Writers will be better supported with the creation of a welcome area at the CNC, an Internet site and a grant for first-time scripts of $5,498 for 25 winners.

The news Wednesday came after reports on the state of French cinema by producer Charles Gassot (“The Taste of Others”) and joint head of the CNC, Daniel Goudineau.

“Some 2.2% of film investment goes to the writing phase of development,” commented Gassot, comparing this with other businesses where “a company often invests around 10% in research and development.”

Gassot justified the increase by highlighting that 66 French films, out of 171 produced last year, sold less than 10,000 tickets. He said this was often due to weak scripts.

Producers will be reimbursed from the fund according to whether their projects are actually produced.

Fueling the medium

On the distribution side, Goudineau’s report stresses the growing imbalance between promotional budgets for medium-size American and French films. The CNC has increased its aid to independent distributors from $11.5 million to $17.9 million since 1999 in an effort to bridge the divide.

Analog channels will also be helping with a contribution of 0.2% of their profits, imposed by an audiovisual law in August; it will chip in $5.5 million this year.

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