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France: Filmmakers favor co-production route

Location: Europe 2012 - France

France may not boast Europe’s most attractive international tax rebate, but it does provide foreign producers with many co-production opportunities and soft money sources. Indeed, for many international filmmakers working on small or medium-bracket budget pics, co-production is a favored route.

Gaul has co-production treaties with 50 countries, except the U.S and Japan. Poland, Ukraine and Slovenia are the latest countries to ink agreements with France.

Producers from the U.K., Spain and Italy can also engage in financial co-production with France. These don’t require any artistic or technical contribution from France to be greenlit by the European Commission. In 2011, Gaul invested $525.95 million in 120 co-prods.

European co-productions can benefit from the country’s film financing system, notably coin from French TV channels. Free-to-air nets — TF1, France Televisions and M6 — must invest a percentage of their annual revenues on French and European films. In 2011, free-to-air channels invested $189.3 million in all films, while Canal Plus invested $240 million.

Since there’s no co-production agreement with the U.S., American producers wishing to lense in France and spend at least $1.3 million on Gallic soil can apply for the international tax rebate. It’s worth 20% of eligible expenditure and is capped at $5.2 million. It applies to vfx-intensive films, as well as toons, live-action pics and TV films, series and mini-series.

Foreign producers looking to shoot half of their films or at least 20 days — in Ile de France (Paris and its suburbs) and complete some of the technical services there can also apply for the Ile de France’s Regional Support Fund, and can be combined with other co-production funds. The selective fund gives out $18.4 million to about 30 productions every year.

The region also recently launched a $1.3 million fund to help filmmakers complete their pics after shooting. Nearly half of the films that received Ile de France regional coin will play in Cannes. These include four Competition titles: Yousri Nasralla’s “Apres la Bataille,” Michael Haneke’s “Amour” and Lou Ye’s “Mystery” and Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors.”

Another source of soft money is the World Cinema Aid, a fund created this year by the CNC to support filmmakers working in countries where it’s difficult to make films for economic and/or political reasons. With an annual budget of $8 million, the World Cinema Aid will help finance 50 to 60 projects every year.

Studios & facilities

cite du cinema: Aimed at putting France on an equal footing with U.K.’s Pinewood Studios Group and Germany’s Studio Babelsberg, Luc Besson’s 16-acre Cite du Cinema just outside Paris will officially bow in September. It will be France’s biggest studio, featuring nine sets ranging from 6,458 sq. ft. to 22,604 sq. ft. each; and on-site services including restaurants, cafeterias, concierge and a fitness center, in addition to a film school.

raleigh studios: Raleigh Studios has recently received the French government’s greenlight to build Hollywood-sur-Garonne, a 61-acre studio located near Toulouse in the south of France. Construction work should begin in 2013 for a 2014 delivery.

Post & vfx

After acquiring Quinta Industries’ bankrupt post-production and vfx biz, Technicolor recently launched Technicolor Entertainment Services France, a Gallic post banner that provides colorization, audio services, digital conversion and a dubbing facility. Up next, TESF will acquire an existing French animation studio to work on third-party toons and co-produce some.

Mikros, a vfx and post-production house, is also prepping to open a full-service animation studio in Paris, while Pierre Buffin’s BUF, France’s top vfx company, is opening facilities in Belgium and Canada.

Studios & facilities

Cite du cinema: Aimed at putting France on an equal footing with U.K.’s Pinewood Studios Group and Germany’s Babelsberg Studios, Luc Besson’s 16-acre Cite du Cinema just outside Paris will officially bow in September. It will be France’s biggest studio, featuring nine sets ranging from 6,458 square feet to 22,604 square feet each; and on-site services including restaurants, cafeterias, concierge and a fitness center, in addition to a film school.

Raleigh Studios: Raleigh Studios has recently received the French government’s greenlight to build Hollywood-sur-Garonne, a 61-acre studio located near Toulouse in the south of France. Construction work should begin in 2013 for a 2014 delivery.

Post & vfx

After acquiring Quinta Industries’ bankrupt post-production and vfx biz, Technicolor recently launched Technicolor Entertainment Services France, a Gallic post banner that provides colorization, audio services, digital conversion and a dubbing facility. Up next, TESF will acquire an existing French animation studio to work on third-party toons and co-produce some.

Mikros, a vfx and post-production house, is also prepping to open a full-service animation studio in Paris, while Pierre Buffin’s BUF, France’s top vfx company, is opening facilities in Belgium and Canada.

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