The organizers of the five-event Paris Images Trade Show, one of the world’s biggest film production and post-production trade fairs, has disclosed that total foreign spend under France’s tax rebate for international shoots tripled in 2016, with a further rise predicted this year.
Over recent years, France has invested significantly in its technical infrastructure, including the construction of new studio facilities, such as Luc Besson’s Paris Studios and the Provence Studios near Marseille. The country also boasts world-leading animation and VFX shops, including Illumination MacGuff, Mikros Images, TeamTO, Buf and Cube Creative.
One of the key drivers of the rising demand for Gallic technical facilities is France’s TRIP international tax rebate scheme, whose rate was upped from 20% to 30% of spend in France from Jan. 1, 2016.
TRIP has had a key role in tripling foreign investment, said two of Paris Images’ organizers, Valérie Lépine-Karnik, CEO of Film France, and Yann Marchet, marketing & communications director of the Ile de France Film Commission and general delegate of Paris Images Digital Summit.
Popular on Variety
From the beginning of 2017 the minimum spend in France required from foreign production companies in order to qualify for TRIP has been cut from €1 million ($1.0 million) to €250,000 ($264,000). This is expected to foster a further rise in foreign productions in France, especially for VFX work which until now has found it difficult to meet the €1 million minimum spend requirement.
Total VFX spend under TRIP in 2016 was only €2 million ($2.1 million). But it is expected to rise significantly in 2017. Shoots from Europe, India and China are also expected to benefit from the new rules.
The new lower minimum spend requirement was one of the main recommendations in Jean Gaillard’s progress report on visual effects, A French Ambition for Digital Visual Effects, that was presented in Cannes last year.
Foreign projects budgeted under €500,000 can also be eligible for TRIP if they spend more than 50% of their global budget in France.
According to Lépine-Karnik, 36 projects benefited from the TRIP scheme in 2016, compared to 22 in 2015, with combined eligible investment of €152 million ($160 million) compared to €57 million ($60 million) in 2015.
Total foreign spend is evenly distributed between live action and animation/VFX work, with 16 and 20 projects respectively. Total spend between feature films and TV series is also evenly split.
Over the last 15 months, key feature film projects approved under TRIP include Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” Pablo Larrain’s “Jackie,” starring Nathalie Portman, and James Foley’s “Fifty Shades Freed.”
One of the biggest foreign productions in France in 2016 was Aditya Chopra’s Bollywood romcom, “Befikre,” released in December 2016, which according to Lépine-Karnik has whetted the appetite for more Bollywood productions to lens in France.
India will be the country of honor across the five events of Paris Images, a showcase of Gaul’s technical industries, ranging from VFX to studios and locations. A delegation of Indian producers and directors will attend. Special events include a tribute to Indian VFX company Red Chillies which worked on “Life of Pi” and “Befikre.” There will also be a special screening and case study on “Befikre,” including a presentation by pic’s production designer, Anne Seibel, (“Midnight In Paris”).
Animation films and series approved under TRIP include Illumination MacGuff’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Lunch Shorts,” “Despicable Me 3: Shorts” and “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” Mikros Images’ “Captain Underpants,” for DreamWorks Animation and “Sherlock Gnomes,” for Paramount Animation, TeamTO’s “Princess Elena of Avalor” for Disney and “Skylander Academy 2”, and Cube Creative’s “Piggy Tales,” now in season 4, for Rovio Entertainment.
Production of TV series has been one of the main areas of growth under TRIP. Long-running series include the BBC’s “Death in Paradise,” shot in Guadeloupe. Over the last 18 months, the number of live action TV series has increased significantly, including Neil Jordan’s “Riviera”; Netflix’s “Marseille,” seasons one and two; Myriam Aziza’s web drama “Simone Benloulou,” for Netflix; Jeffrey Reiner’s “The Affair,” for Showtime; “Les Emmeurdeurs” for Google Ireland; Hugo Blick’s BBC2 drama, “Black Earth Rising”; and Covent Garden Productions’ “Black Pills.”
VR projects are also on the rise, taking in Raul Rubio’s “The Invisible Hours” and Julio Medem’s “Assassin’s Amnesia.”
Marchet expects a major increase in VFX projects in France under the new rules and believes that VFX can provide crucial leverage for attracting international live action shoots, since France can offer a comprehensive service covering lensing and VFX.
“We now think that VFX is the best way to develop the overall industry,” explains Marchet. “The new lower ceiling in the TRIP tax rebate scheme will play a decisive role in this process.”
During the Digital Summit, Genie Lifetime Achievement awards will be given to French animator Pierre Buffin and VFX supervisor Joe Letteri, whose career portfolio includes “Avatar,” “Lord of the Rings,” and more recently Luc Besson’s $180 million sci-fi epic, “Valerian.” The winners of the third edition of the Digital Creation Genie Awards will also be announced.
On Jan. 30, there will be an exclusive screening of David Moreau’s French fantasy survival thriller “Alone,” which features impressive effects such as huge banks of what look like nuclear clouds threatening to engulf a city. The initiative will bring together representatives from all five Paris Images events. It will include a case study with presentations by Moreau and the pic’s cinematographer, location manager, production designer and VFX supervisor.
This year’s edition of the Paris Images Trade Show has been streamlined over one week taking in a Digital Summit (Jan. 25-28), Paris Images Cinema (Jan. 25-27), the Micro-Salon (Jan. 27-28), Paris Images Pro (Jan 31 – Feb 1) and Location Expo (Jan 31 – Feb 1).
The initiative was launched in 2013 in the wake of recommendations made in a 2013 CNC report that included “the creation of a new international brand via a major annual event to promote France’s technical industries, image-producing expertise and artistic contribution to film and television.”
Paris Images is supported by France’s CNC film-TV board, by the associate partners CST, a guild for post-production employees, FICAM, the 170-member professional organization of the French technical industries, and also by the AFC French Cinematographers Assn., the Ile de France Film Commission, the IDIFF Intl. Digital Film Forum, l’Industrie du Reve, and Film France, the country’s national film commission.