Rebate lures digital production to French companies

Created to put France on an equal footing with neighboring countries’ incentives, France’s Tax Rebate for Intl. Production (Trip) program shares its main goal with rival countries’ rebates: It wants to attract higher-bracket foreign shoots.

What makes it stand apart is that it was specifically designed to bolster the French technical service industries.

And so far, the French incentive has lived up to its mandate.

“The real strength of this French tax rebate is that it’s very streamlined and more precise than in other countries, because it considers animation differently with animation-specific criteria,” explains Illumination Entertainment producer Janet Healy, who tapped French studio Mac Guff to create the animation for “Despicable Me” and “The Lorax.”

Trip offers a 20% rebate on foreign shoot expenditures for a minimum of €1 million spent and is capped at €4 million.

Since its official launch in January, the Gallic incentive, which is open for live-action films, toons, made-for-TV pics and documentaries, has drawn eight visual effects-intensive and animated films, which have generated €51 million in expenditures in France.

Among the titles to benefit are Chris Meledandri-produced toon “Despicable Me” and Wong Kar Wai’s “The Grand Masters.”

“These eight big-budget productions account for nearly half of the €109 million pulled by all 26 Trip-qualified projects,” points out Guillaume Blanchot, CNC’s head of technical industries and multimedia. “They’ve not only benefited our economy but also our technical service industries.”

The animation-specific chart places a larger emphasis on the nationality of key creative posts and crews, whereas the classic cultural criteria applying to live-action films is focused on locations and characters.

“It was incentivized to keep jobs in France, which is great considering the amount of talent you find here,” says Healy, who was a driving force behind the approval of the tax rebate program.

Another particularity of the French rebate plan is that vfx-intensive live-action films and TV series — which boast an average of 2.5 effects shots per minute — are considered in the same category as animated features and are therefore spared from the stricter cultural criteria that apply to regular live-action films.

So far, Buf, Mac Guff and Duran Duboi have reaped most of the extra work brought by the rebate.

While Mac Guff is rolling from “Despicable Me” to “The Lorax,” Buf was commissioned to create 500 vfx shots on Marvel’s tentpole “Thor,” and was it just tapped to work on Chris Gorak’s thriller “The Darkest Hour,” Thomas Bezucha’s comedy “Monte Carlo” and Wong’s “The Grand Masters.”

Duran Duboi, on the other hand, was tapped to work on the 3D conversion of “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.”

More from the French VFX and Animation report
3D fuels French animation boom | Pics on board for new TRIP | 3D F/X stalled in Gaul

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