PARIS – As part of the partnership agreement between the Ile de France Film Commission and Film London, a delegation of five U.K production managers, accompanied by Film London’s senior inward investment manager, David Shepheard, attended the Paris Images Location Expo (Feb. 3-4), held this year in Le Carreau du Temple in Paris’ Le Marais district.
Production managers Harriet Lawrence, Sue Quinn, Michael Harm, Frith Tiplady and Georgette Turner travelled by Eurostar to Paris to learn more about locations, studios, crews and tax incentives available in the French capital and surrounding regions.
In an exclusive interview with Variety, David Shepheard, from Film London, Frith Tiplady, head of production at Tiger Aspect, and freelance production manager Georgette Turner talked about the possibilities of reinforcing ties between London and Paris- Europe’s two strongest film production hubs.
One of their key concerns was to explore ways of creating synergies between the U.K and French tax rebate systems.
Under the U.K system a maximum of 80% of the production budget can qualify for the 25% tax rebate. This means that producers often seek for an alternative location for the remaining 20% of the production budget, thus enabling them to also tap into tax incentives in other countries.
This is mainly achieved at present by shooting in Ireland, Canada or Eastern Europe, but the visiting professionals were keen to understand how to take advantage of opportunities in France, especially given that the TRIP scheme will be upped from 20% to 30% from Jan. 1, 2016.
Examples of recent U.K. productions that have taken advantage of France’s TRIP scheme include Sky Atlantic’s “The Tunnel” and the BBC’s “Death in Paradise,” shot in Guadaloupe.
French TV series and locations have also recently gained greater visibility and audience interest in the U.K, through the success of French TV series, such as “The Returned” which recorded high primetime ratings for Channel 4.
Frith Tiplady explained that given that Tiger Aspect is increasingly involved in high-end drama production, she’s particularly interested in taking advantage of French locations and tax incentives.
“Co-production opportunities are growing, there’s expanding demand for ambitious content and we have to think bigger,” she suggests. “Up until now, we’ve mainly been exploring synergies with Ireland and Eastern Europe, but I think there’s huge unexplored potential for high-end TV drama shot in France. We often travel to parts of the U.K, such as Edinburgh, that are actually much further away than Paris.”
Location manager Georgette Turner explained that she decided to travel to Paris to explore ways of establishing a closer working relationship with France: “I’m used to working with Ireland, Hungary and Prague. I know how the system works and how to budget for a shoot. I need to know prices, service suppliers, rate cards, overtime regulations and how to factor all these elements into the budget. I’m still learning about France.”
Turner also discussed how even if the script is set in a specific location, the scenes may be filmed in other countries, or the script adjusted to meet the final location mix chosen for the film.
“It all depends on what you’re looking for,” she suggests. “For example, we’re used to working between the U.K and Ireland because of the common language and architecture. It’s easy to make Ireland look like period London. But parts of England can also look very French and vice versa. You can even make Paris look like London.”
Turner explained that she worked as location manager on Tom Cruise-starrer “Edge of Tomorrow” which was set in France, but ended up filming in Hertfordshire, that was made to look like France.
The professionals said that they were attracted by the film-friendly atmosphere fostered by the Paris Images Location Expo event. They were surprised, for example, to learn that it’s relatively easy to film on motorways in France.
They also emphasized that they’d received valuable support from their hosts the Ile de France Film Commission and also by Film France, the umbrella organization of Gallic film commissions.
They praised Film France’s online location database, although suggested that thematic search tools would make their work even easier. “The Internet is a big tool for our job. You have to make sure that your location comes up first when you punch in key words on Google,” Turner suggested.
Turner also said that she’s not only interested in France’s period locations. “France is a relatively unexplored territory for U.K producers. I’m very interested in modern buildings that can be used for futuristic settings. Or parts of buildings that can be integrated within VFX work. Plate shots that can be integrated within green-screen VFX work is another major interest.”
The professionals also emphasized how in today’s global film business, top talent is interested in working on projects located close to cities of culture. Locating a shoot in London or Paris can be a major pull for A-list talent.
“Last year there were more Hollywood shoots filmed in London than in L.A.,” explained Shepheard. “Some U.S directors, such as Tim Burton, work primarily from a London base.”
Paris is London’s biggest rival as a film production hub, but whereas over 80% of film production investment in London comes from inward investment films, the ratio is the exact opposite in Paris, given the strong domestic industry.
This extensive talent base of film crews, infrastructures and locations, complemented by tax rebates, which from 2016 onwards will stand at 30%, was the main reason for the U.K delegation’s visit.
“London is a wonderfully photogenic location,” concluded Turner. “But we don’t want it to be overexposed. We’re constantly looking for new and exciting locations, and building new relationships so that we can easily relocate a shoot to the location that offers the best visuals and most attractive overall package, including tax incentives. France is now definitely high on my radar.”