57-year old Frederique Bredin has been the president of the French cinema agency, the CNC, since June 26. Her previous posts include working as director general of Lagardere Active, editor of the newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, Minister for Youth and Sports between 1991 and 1993, and national secretary for the Socialist Party, responsible for culture and communication between 1995 and 2000. The CNC is responsible for overseeing French film support policy, including the design of the TRIP tax rebate scheme for international productions. In this interview she discusses with Variety her key objectives for the near future.
How do you view the recent changes in the tax rebate schemes for French films and international productions? Can we expect other changes, such as increasing the percentage from 20% to 30%?
Thanks to the artistic and technical excellence of our film and TV industry and outstanding heritage sites and scenery, France has all the necessary prerequisites to be the preferred location for domestic productions, while simultaneously attracting a high number of foreign productions.
Our tax rebate schemes are nonetheless essential in order to guarantee the competitiveness of our industries and our technicians, and thereby favor the development of employment in this sector in France, given the significant tax competition in this area.
The beneficial effects on employment and growth of the tax rebate schemes are very clear. The study conducted by the independent firm, Greenwich Consulting, published in September 2010, showed that the share of shoots located in France had increased by 10 percentage points as a result of these mechanisms. Moreover, the same study emphasized the schemes’ positive impact on public finances: the tax and social security revenues that are generated are 4 times the fiscal cost of the tax rebates granted!
In this context, it was a strong, but natural, signal when adjustment proposals were submitted to the French Parliament in late 2012 and late 2013, to increases the caps on these schemes, their range of eligible expenses and in some cases their percentage rates. This is an essential step to preserve the competitiveness of the French territory.
Some sectors are subject to fierce international competition, in particular from Canada. We must therefore remain alert to changes in foreign schemes and any new changes that would be appropriate to make with our own schemes in order to maintain our competitiveness, while upholding regulatory stability, which is an essential tool for investment decisions, and needed in order to maintain the efficiency of our tax rebates.
TRIP has already attracted more international productions in France. Do you think this trend will increase with the new caps?
Yes, there’s major potential for growth in France in terms of our attractiveness for foreign shoots. The implementation of the international tax rebate scheme (TRIP) in 2009 has already helped attract more than 70 foreign productions from 14 countries. We’re talking about a total spend of €365 million ($497 million) invested in France since this scheme was launched, whereas such foreign shoots were previously rare. A wide array of top directors have thus recently benefited from French expertise, including Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen and Wong Kar-wai!
And what about the field of animation! Among other examples, TRIP has contributed to Universal’s decision to set up a base in France, via the animation studio, Illumination Mac Guff, which has ensured the production of animated films such as “Despicable Me” 1 & 2, and “The Lorax”…and this is only the beginning!
With the increase in the cap on TRIP, France is now highly competitive to attract the entire shoot of major international productions.
Can you identify international productions that will shoot in France in 2014?
It’s still very early to tell, because decisions on location shooting are taken in a very short timeframe, and projects are kept confidential. But I can already tell you that five international productions, recently approved by the TRIP scheme, will generate 100 days of filming in 2014, which is a very good start for the year. It’s important to note in particular that international productions are extending the length of their presence in France, which means that in addition to the tax benefit, they find competent and effective teams and locations that match their expectations. Emphasis should be placed on the remarkable welcoming services that are provided by regional film commissions and Film France, that enable foreign producers to optimize their location scouting and crew selection times.
What are the main advantages of the new event, Paris Images Trade Show?
This event is intended to be the annual showcase in France devoted to the expertise of the country’s technical industries and technicians, in all aspects of film, TV and the moving image. It’s based on the combined experience of four established events (Micro-Salon, IDIFF LocationExpo and the Industrie du Reve) that have chosen to work together in order to offer a single umbrella event for filmmakers and creators worldwide. We have technical industries with advanced technological expertise, at the heart of the digital revolution, that offer an invaluable source of growth and employment.
France and the region of Paris / Ile de France in particular, has strengthened its position as a major film production hub, with its tax rebate schemes, film commissions and aids, and new infrastructure systems such as the Studios de Paris. How do you see the future of this production hub over the coming years?
You’re quite right, France has both a vocation and vested interest – in terms of both economic and cultural activity and also tourism – to further enhance its position as a global film production hub, at the service of the diversity of creative projects from throughout the world. This is particularly true for the Ile de France region, that is a prime shooting location, due to the unique appeal of Paris and the quality of the region’s infrastructures, especially in terms of film studios. But it’s the whole of France that will emerge as the “hub” that you mention, also thanks to the support of regional and local authorities.
Inclusively in terms of foreign productions, about half of the French regions have already welcomed foreign shoots via the TRIP scheme, including overseas regions – which is another major asset of our territory.