With record participation of over 90 exhibitors and 1,801 visitors (23% up on 2013), the Ile de France Location Expo – one of Europe’s largest location shows -wrapped Friday after a busy two-day event.

This year’s Location Expo was for the first time integrated within an ambitious three-week umbrella event – the Paris Images Trade Show – that incorporates three other shows dedicated to France’s technical industries – the Industrie du Reve, a craft/technicians’ conference, which studied Franco-German co-production and creative collaboration (Jan. 26-31); the high-tech seminar IDIFF (Jan. 28-29), and the Micro-Salon cinematographers’ meet (Feb. 7-8).

The trade show regrouped four events organized by seven French orgs, designed to promote local talents and locations and lure foreign shoots.

The organizers were the Ile de France Film Commission, the AFC Association of French Cinematographers, the IDIFF Intl. Digital Film Forum, the Industrie du Reve, the CST, a guild for post-production employees, the FICAM French technicians guild, and Film France, the country’s national film commission.

The Paris Images’ closing cocktail was held at Location Expo on Thursday evening, attended by the organizers of all the constituent events.

During the cocktail presentation, Olivier-Rene Veillon, exec director of the Ile de France Film Commission emphasized the tremendous sense of achievement felt by all the organizers in having linked together these different initiatives.

“We launched Paris Images in order to create better synergies”, Veillon stated to Variety. “The challenge is to develop international production. The Trade Show focuses on what makes our region and other regions attractive for producers and production companies. All of the Paris Images events are aimed at increasing our international appeal and ensure higher visibility for all our assets – that’s why we need this new umbrella initiative.”

Franck Priot, COO of Film France also underlined the success of the initiative: “The concept of an umbrella event is much better than organizing separate initiatives. It gives us a stronger identity. Maybe over time it will merge into one or two events.”

Creation of the Paris Images Trade Show was one of the recommendations made in a CNC report published in early 2013, which suggested “the creation of a new international brand on the occasion of a major annual event to promote France’s technical industries, image-producing expertise and artistic contribution to film and television.”

The Ile de France Location Expo was aimed at promotion. It did, however, suggest bigger picture conclusions.
Firstly, that the technical industries are – and should be treated as – an integral part of the creative process: For example, locations should be viewed above all as artistic elements that bring character and vitality to any film.

Veillon emphasized the fact that when foreign directors choose to work with French technicians, they not only encounter technical skill but also a keen desire to contribute to the director’s vision: “Foreign producers can find skilled technicians in France who have a passion for cinema, for example in which our cinematographers strive to draw close to the vision of the director – this is a particularly marked feature of the French tradition.”
Veillon pointed out that two of the Oscar-nominated DPs this year are French – Bruno Delbonnel (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) and Philippe Lesourd (“The Grandmaster”).

Remy Chevrin, prexy of the AFC Association of French Cinematographers explained that many French DPs are keen to work with foreign directors because it gives them greater freedom to work on visual style: “There’s a very specific situation in France, due to our auteur tradition that’s more interested in the written text and dialogue and is less visual-based.”

Nonetheless, Chevrin believes that there’s a new generation forming in France: “The new trend of low-budget movies, often using low-cost digital shooting equipment, has launched a new economic model and a new generation of filmmakers over the last two-to-three years. They come from film schools and work together as friends and invent new ways of shooting and distributing their films. It’s a bit like the 1960s when Godard and company challenged the old generation.”

Participants at Location Expo included many young filmmakers and the event exuded considerable energy and vitality.

Other examples of this new trend included the booth of Studio Kremlin/La Halle O Films, a new audiovisual hub located in Ivry-sur-Seine in a former factory building. It is capable of providing alternative, less expensive studio facilities for filmmakers.

Also exemplifying an innovative boutique approach is Map Studio, owned by Ivan Maussion, one of France’s veteran production designers who has worked on the majority of the films directed by Patrice Leconte and can offer an integrated service tailored to the need of any level of production and in certain specific circumstances, he claimed, with costs that even undercut studios based in Lithuania.

In terms of new ways of thinking about filmmaking, Location Expo also included workshops and pitching sessions organized by the Pole d’Emploi employment initiative and a report and explanatory session by the Ecoprod initiative that aims to reduce cinema’s carbon footprint.

Overall, both organizers and participants were clearly delighted by both the IDF Location Expo and the Paris Images Trade Show as a whole, and looked forward to achieving even stronger synergies between the four constituent elements of the trade show at next year’s edition.

The Ile de France Location Expo ran Feb. 13-14, the Paris Images Trade Show unspooled Jan 26-Feb 14.