PARIS – Production manager Gilles de Selva, together with his brother and sister, Pablo and Celine, who are both art directors and stylists, have unveiled a new 4,500 square meter (484,200 square foot) studio facility in Paris’ Ivry-sur-Seine district that opened for business on Wednesday, Feb. 4.
After studying film in Montreal and working for three years as a talent manager in Los Angeles, 36-year old de Selva returned to Paris in the mid-2000s, where he opened a photo studio in 2005. In early 2007 he acquired an old 800-seater picture palace in the center of Paris, known as the Vox, (formerly the Kursaal) which he adapted into a film studio, entitled Studio Abel 14.
Abel 14 now operates three different studio facilities, that complement each other.
The former Vox cinema houses a 400 square meter (430,000 square foot) studio – the biggest film studio located within the city of Paris itself (although the Greater Paris area has several other studio spaces in its surrounding zones). It is popular amongst commercials producers, given its proximity and attractive décor.
Abel 14 has a permanent green screen and is used primarily as a virtual studio. Woody Allen used it as a production base during filming of “Midnight in Paris,” and it has also been used for productions by Sofia Coppola, Kanye West and Justin Timberlake.
Abel 14’s new studio facility is located in the Paris suburb, Ivry-sur-Seine – a French Communist Party stronghold for the last 40 years. The zone has a distinct stark architecture and a firm commitment to the creative industries, with a cluster of young production companies, equipment leasing firms and other studio infrastructures in the zone.
In 2014, Ivry-sur-Seine hosted the filming of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.” The area was chosen precisely because of its Stalinist-style architecture and the fact that it has a hangar-style studio, the Kremlin, which was used as a production base (the Kremlin is only 100 yards from Abel 14’s new studio).
The new studio facility used to be a TV studio, called Soft, that operated from the mid-1980s onwards, but went bankrupt at the end of the 2000s. It was then occupied by squatters.
De Selva inked an agreement with the late Mayor of Ivry-sur-Seine, Pierre Gosnat, and has refurbished the space that will now be used for feature films, TV series and commercials. He has employed 100 technicians for the new venture, and will offer facilities such as motion capture, which will complement his existing virtual studio in central Paris. De Selva explains that the studio business by itself is extremely competitive with very tight profit margins. He is therefore committed to establishing post production and VFX facilities in his studios which enable production teams to observe the mix between live action images and digital effects in real time.
The new 484,200 square foot studio space includes a 3,200 square-foot sound stage and another similarly sized studio which is not sound proofed. It also has extensive areas for hangar-style studio shoots and a storage space for set decors and props.The studio also includes office space that is being occupied by young creative industry entrepreneurs, including architects, set designers and silk screen printers.Catering is organized via a food truck.
“The total investment required to fully refurbish the studio is around €4 million ($4.6 million),” explains de Selva. “But we aim to do things step by step, as we did with the recovery of the Vox cinema.”
The new venture is the latest move towards creating a dynamic creative cluster in Ivry-sur-Seine.