Paris touts landmark locations

Center reduces prices for film and television shoots

PARIS — Tourists may get to visit France’s dizzying array of chateaux and museums more often in the near future — virtually, that is. Gaul’s National Center of Monuments recently unveiled a set of services aimed at attracting film productions to the more than 200 historical sites under the center’s umbrella.

As part of its offering, the center reduced prices for film and television shoots, in hopes of snagging more productions like Sofia Coppola’s “Marie-Antoinette” and Ron Howard’s “Da Vinci Code.” Both pics lensed in several high-profile Gallic monuments and contributed to the increase in revenue the center has reaped from film productions.

From 2002-2005, revs from shoots, including film, television and commercial, have jumped 174%. Last year was a bumper year, with revs up 43%.

“The idea behind the initiative is to make these monuments more film friendly,” says Patrick Lamassoure, director of Film France, the Gallic national film commission, which has partnered with the center on its production initiatives. “The real change is that all the prices have been clarified and included in one total price, where before costs of renting material during night hours, for example, wasn’t included.”

The center hopes that by reducing and consolidating costs, productions won’t get a nasty surprise at the end of lensing.

The monuments have been grouped into two categories, based on their prestige, location, and accessibility. For example, the cost for a feature film to shoot for 12 hours during the daytime at the well-known Arc du Triomphe, which falls into category A, would come to E4,575 ($5,778). The same shoot for a live TV show comes in at $8,590. Category B monuments, such as the Chartres cathedral, ring in at $4,622 for a feature film.

The difference in pricing between movies (both feature and TV) and live television programs highlights the politics behind the new offering. The center’s price reductions come at the behest of France’s culture czar Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, who views the move as a way of showcasing France’s national treasures and attracting tourism.

Productions that are shown repeatedly are the obvious choice to achieve that goal.

Still, directors who get a look at “Marie-Antoinette” or “The Da Vinci Code” while in Cannes this year, shouldn’t be too quick to phone the Louvre or Versailles. Those two monuments, among others, are not controlled by the National Center of Monuments.

The cost of a day of shooting at Versailles still rings in at about $18,700.

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