10 tips for co-producing in France

Valuable advice for foreign film financing

1) Do think about your film’s value in the French market. Even if it ticks all the boxes to be recognized as an official French co-production, local companies won’t touch it if they can’t make money at home.

2) Don’t think that qualifying as an official French co-production will automatically bring in funds. It just gets you a place at the table, after which you, or your French partner, will still need to sell it to distributors and broadcasters.

3) Do try to decipher the French film finance system. Film France produces a good guide in English for outsiders.

4) Don’t despair if your film isn’t in French or doesn’t take place in France. Every year, between 30 and 60 foreign-language features not shot in France qualify for support under the French system.

5) Do check the small print in the co-production treaty between France and your country, if such a pact exists. These obligations are important if you want your film to be recognized.

6) Don’t expect a French co-producer to bring in French stars, particularly if the stars are required to make the film bankable. The co-producer needs something to work with in the beginning.

7) Do be careful if you are proposing a film that is critical of France’s recent history, since this touches on cultural sensitivities.

8) Don’t assume that everyone in the industry is comfortable working in English. Consider getting your script translated into French. If you want to access local co-production funds, you will have to file all your documents in French anyway.

9) Do check the French box office to find out who produces the top local films. France has an automatic subsidy that rewards box office success. The coin must be reinvested in recognized films within two years.

10) Don’t be discouraged if your film doesn’t get official recognition. Mainstream or crossover pics can still attract French partners, and if you plan to invest a lot of coin in France you may be able to access the new tax rebate for foreign-language productions.