Filmmakers Take Advantage of Monaco’s No-Fee Production

Monte Carlo Television Festival showcases the small country's largesse toward the TV industry

A Beautiful Now LA Film Festival
Courtesy of LA Film Festival

Monaco has ranked as a desirable shooting location for international productions ever since Alfred Hitchock lensed “To Catch a Thief” there in 1954.

Despite lacking a tax shelter, in the past two decades Monaco has hosted such films as Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s Twelve,” Robert Downey Jr. starrer “Iron Man 2,” Pascal Chaumeil’s “Heartbreaker” and Pierre Salvadori’s “Priceless.”

With its ornate Casino (pictured above) and Opera, and palaces like the Hermitage and Hotel de Paris, the luxurious neighborhood known as Monte Carlo ranks among the world’s most opulent places.

Since Monaco isn’t part of France, it doesn’t offer the same attractive tax incentives — a 20% tax rebate capped for foreign productions — but it boasts low business taxes (and no income taxes for individuals).

Charles III, the prince of Monaco and a film lover, has inherited the public-image awareness of his mother, Grace Kelly, and understands the power of media. As a result, films and TV shows are reviewed by a committee, and if they are judged beneficial to the state, they can shoot for free in Monaco.

Responsibility for attracting foreign films and TV rests with the Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority’s topper Guillaume Rose, its head of marketing and sales Christophe Brico, as well as Laurent Puons, CEO of the Monte Carlo TV Festival.

Productions granted permission to shoot in Monaco pretty much have carte blanche to do what they please. For “Ocean’s Twelve,” Soderbergh got to lense at the Monte Carlo Casino for free from 3:30 a.m. — once all the guests departed — until 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, Jon Favreau was eager to shoot a race with authentic vintage cars during the Monaco Formula One race. But since he couldn’t do it during the F1 Grand Prix, he lensed two weeks before with the collaboration of local authorities.

Overseas producers who wish to shoot both in France and Monaco can deduct some spending (such as equipment rental) made in Monaco so it’s taken into account under France’s tax rebate, which will rise to 30% and be capped at €30 million ($33 million) in 2016.

Crews can also be hired out of the PACA region (French Riviera cities), which features the biggest film industry workforce after the Ile de France region (Paris and its suburbs).

Four production-services companies call Monaco home: Jake Productions, Factory, Sharkprod. and Kanzaman.

Plus, the area’s mountainous landscapes have made the country a haven for luxury car commercials. And of course, Monaco remains the ultimate venue for high-fashion advertising.