A quick survey of the international productions lensing in France quickly shows that what brings producers to Gaul is the script and the added value that setting a film in France can bring in terms of the pic’s international appeal.
“Many international professionals, including top Hollywood talent, have a base or apartment in Paris,” states Olivier-René Veillon, exec director of the Ile de France Film Commission. “Paris is a creative magnet.”
“France is in the news. Tourism gets us in the world spotlight”, says Franck Priot, COO of Film France. “We form part of people’s imaginary universe throughout the world. Writers come to France and they get inspired and set their stories here.”
Over 800 American movies have been set in Paris, as highlighted in the 2012 exhibition “Paris Seen By Hollywood,” staged in Paris’ Hotel du Ville town hall.
Certain Parisian icons – such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre or Versailles – are immediately recognized throughout the world and constitute prestige elements that can bring added value to films, TV series and commercials.
“Places like the Louvre and the Eiffel tower aren’t just characters” suggests Veillon. “They’re international stars, famous worldwide.”
“If you include a shot of Paris in your film, everyone knows where you are,” concurs film financier Leonard Glowinski. “Paris can be a real marketing tool”.
France and Paris are identified with luxury, charm and good living that generate a universal appeal, including a rising number of film and commercials productions from China and other Asian countries.
France is one of the few European countries that has penetrated the imagination of Chinese audiences – a booming market.
Examples of upcoming projects that have chosen France on story grounds include the Bill Mechanic-produced “The Moon and the Sun,” that is set in Versailles, and includes a 2-week shoot in the palace.
“The big difference with most countries that are used as foreign locations, is that France is the setting – it’s an integral part of the story. It starts with the script,” says Priot. “For example, an episode of the ‘Sopranos’ was set in France, because two of the screenwriters were in Paris and they got the idea for the episode.”
There are certain key ingredients that bring foreign producers to France, and which recur in the stories they want to tell.
“Producers are looking for hallmark characteristics that audiences associate to France,” suggests Glowinski. “Most foreign films set in France will include references to the same core ingredients – Paris, food and wine, and fashion. There’s almost always a food angle.”
Line producer, John Bernard, adds an additional reason for shooting in France: “The light that France offers is unique and extremely important, it’s undoubtedly one of the factors that attracts both tourists and filmmakers to France.”
“Major international productions need locations that are immediately recognizable and make people dream,” concludes Olivier-Rene Veillon. “That’s true of most of our key locations. They convey a universal message.”