On January 5, French post-production house Polyson garnered the coveted César & Techniques Award from a shortlist of six companies. The winner of theaward is determined through voting by the members of France’s Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma, which organizes the main Cesars Awards ceremony in February.
Now in 2015, Polyson is unveiling major new facilities, including a Foley studio, a pre-mix studio and seven new image and sound editing rooms, covering a total area of 6500 square feet, including a 1100-square-foot Foley studio with a 16-foot ceiling height.
The Foley studio alone represents a total investment of €0.6 million ($ 0.68 million) and is intended to reinforce the company’s positioning as a provider of high-end video and sound post-production services.
Founded in 2000, Polyson aims to provide a one-stop shop, spanning video editing and all aspects of sound post-production. The company is located in East Paris, in the 20th arrondissement, near Nation, in a zone that has attracted many film production companies over recent years. Since 2010 Polyson has been involved in more than 140 films, with over 30 films screened in the Cannes Festival, including Olivier Dahan’s “Grace,” Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone,” Daniel Auteuil’s “Marius and Fanny,” Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Timbuktu,” Olivier Assayas’ “Carlos” and Patrice Leconte’s “The Suicide Shop.”
The company’s track record also includes Christophe Barratier’s “The Chorus” (2004), which received a Cesar Award for best sound in 2005, and Dany Boon’s “Welcome to the Sticks” (2008).
The company had four founding members in 2000, including Polyson founder-CEO Nicolas Naegelen who has a long track record as a sound engineer and mixer. It had two full-time staffers in 2005 and has now grown to 11. Annual revenue has doubled since 2010, now standing at close to €2 million.
“We position ourselves as an atelier rather than a ranch,” explained Naegelen. “We can cater to all post-production needs, but we’re small enough to pay special attention to each individual project.”
He thinks that the company’s individualized approach and specialization in cinema was one of the main reasons why film professionals voted for it in the César & Techniques award. “We have a small team, and our management knows what’s going on at every level. Sometimes you don’t get that in larger structures,” he suggested.
France has a very strong tradition of direct sound in its films, but Naegelen notes a rising interest in sound post-production over recent years, especially in aspects such as Foley effects and ADR.
However, Polyson is careful to ensure that even when producing Foley effects and ADR, the recorded sound will blend seamlessly with the “direct sound feel” of many French films. That was one reason for the major investment in a new Foley studio, equipped with a wide array of different microphones and screens that can create different sound environments.
Polyson works with a wide variety of different projects, including films such as the 2014 Cannes opener, “Grace,” as well as first-time films by new directors such as Céline Sciamma’s “Girlhood” or Cannes hit “Party Girl” by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis.
The company also aims to expand to the international market and is currently providing audio post-production services on the Swiss-Italian film “Seven Days” by Rolando Colla (“Summer Games”).
However, Naegelen believes that, unlike France’s vfx sector, it is relatively difficult for French sound post-production companies to attract significant work on major international productions, including those with TRIP tax rebate funding.
“When directors like Woody Allen decide to shoot a film in France, they will use local technicians during the shoot, but they oversee the video and sound post-production closer to home,” he explained.
Naegelen nonetheless maintains hat the company’s new facilities will reinforce its positioning both for domestic and international clients. “By becoming a more active partner in co-productions, I think we will be able to secure more post-production work on projects from outside France,” he said.