63-year old Bertrand Delanoe has served as Mayor of Paris since March 25, 2001. His public policy has embraced a major commitment to culture and the arts, including a specific Mission Cinema project that was launched in 2002. Steps taken in the context of this project include digitalization of Paris’ screens, creation of the Paris Film Office in 2002 and launch of new events such as the Paris Cinema Festival in 2003. He agreed to be interviewed by Variety to talk about these measures.
Why did you create the Mission Cinema in 2002?
As soon as I was elected Mayor in 2001, I wanted to proactively encourage and support the film industry in Paris. The upshot was the creation of the Mission Cinema, a structure which responded to a straightforward reality: in 2001, Paris had tremendous potential to host shoots and enhance its cinemas but this had been underexploited. I felt it was essential to provide the city with a structure that would offer a one-stop-shop for French and foreign professionals. Since its creation, the Mission Cinema has been instrumental in developing film education, supporting independent cinemas, and encouraging festivals that reinforce the diversity of films on offer. Today, Paris’ 85 cinemas show 500 films per week on their 400 screens. I also wanted the Mission Cinema to promote filming in our city and Paris now welcomes 950 shoots every year. The work undertaken since 2001 has reinforced Paris’ reputation as a great capital of cinema.
Does promoting shoots in the city primarily respond to cultural concerns or an economic logic?
Filming certainly represents an important source of jobs and generates substantial economic benefits. In this respect, it certainly contributes to the city’s economic vitality. But showing Paris in films also helps increase our national and international visibility. Each new film featuring Paris is an opportunity to reveal the city’s beauty, first on the big screen and then through other channels, thereby feeding the collective imagination.
What initiatives have been developed by the Paris Town Hall over recent years in order to host and promote filming in the capital?
With my deputy mayors in charge of culture, Christophe Girard and then Bruno Julliard, we have made profound changes to our film promotion policies over the last thirteen years. We have signed several agreements aiming to improve filming conditions in the capital. We’ve also endeavoured to support and facilitate the work of filmmakers. A bilingual website, reserved for professionals, has been set up to help French and international productions to prepare their shoots. The site displays iconic and new locations that are available for shoots, such as museums, libraries, parks, and the salons of the Hôtel de Ville. The site also provides information on obtaining filming permits in Paris and enables permit requests to be submitted online. Today, Paris hosts an average of 10 shoots per day, and one in every two French films are shot in Paris.
What paths need to be pursued for these initiatives in the future?
Paris must continue to inspire Hollywood and filmmakers from around the world. In an increasingly competitive environment, the measures that have already been taken must be expanded and new developments envisaged, in order to maximize the attractiveness of our city for hosting film shoots. This implies an increase in the number of filming locations, increasingly rigorous environmental requirements, and the development of even more powerful online tools. And, above all, we need to listen to the needs of film professionals.