An estimated 69% of Gallic pics budgeted above €10 million ($12.3 million) lensed abroad during the first half of 2012, according to a report unveiled by Ficam, the French technicians association.

There were 101 French-majority films lensed during the first quarter, including 77 features, generating 612 weeks of shooting. From these 77 films, the number of shooting weeks abroad skyrocketed 64%.

Some 35% of all French productions filmed abroad.

Patrick Lamassoure, managing director of the Film France Commission, said it was the highest number of runaway shoots since the inception of the tax rebate for local productions in 2004.

French industryites have been lobbying to increase the 20% rebate, which is capped at $1.2 million. Lamassoure says the issue is a leading reason why production is moving to Belgium, Luxembourg and Canada.

French films that shot abroad this year include Michel Gondry’s “Mood Indigo,” Guillaume Nicloux’s “La Religieuse” and Fabienne Godet’s “Une Place sur terre.”

Meanwhile, runaway productions of French TV fiction quadrupled between 2010 and 2012, per Ficam.

Among productions that lensed abroad are upscale, English-language drama series “Odysseus,” commissioned by Arte, which shot in Portugal; as well as two Canal Plus skeins — the second seasons of Tom Fontana’s “Borgia” (in Czech Republic) and “XIII” (in Canada).

France’s labor costs are likely to be a factor explaining this trend, per Lamassoure. As they are English-language productions, they are not eligible for the local tax rebate.