High-profile titles lift employment rate

PARIS — Paris VFX and toon shingles weathered the storm last year as employment went up by 30%, according to Ile de France Film Commission.

However, each outfit had a different story to tell, with biz driven by a number of high-profile titles: Mac Guff had Chris Meledandri’s “Despicable Me,” Mikros Image had Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud’s “Oceans,” Buf had Luc Besson’s “Arthur” saga and Eclair Group had Besson actioner “From Paris With Love.”

“Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp is the top French company in terms of creating employment,” said Olivier Rene Veillon, prexy of the Ile de France Film Commission.

Mac Guff underwent the biggest makeover in 2009 thanks to “Despicable Me.” Its workforce grew from 60 to approximately 250 employees.

But other shingles bore the brunt of challenges in their sector. Overall, the post-production field was hit hard. Film labs, like those run by Duran Dubois and Eclair, were hit by the conversion to digital prints. Six companies closed shop. But Veillon pointed out the employment rate remained stable within the sector as market consolidation continued.

This year, Buf and Mac Guff are likely to maintain the same level of activity with more high-profile work to feed the pipeline. Buf got tapped to work on Besson’s “Adele Blanc Sec,” which features 600 visual effects shots, as well as Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor.” Meanwhile, Mac Guff will keep afloat this year with Meledandri’s “The Lorax.”

The report also showed that foreign shoots’ expenses jumped 20% to $134 million. Veillon said the upward trend was partly due to France’s tax rebate incentive for international shoots.

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