The principality of Monaco has long been luring international film and TV productions with its landmark Monte Carlo Casino — of which James Bond is a big fan — its prestigious Grand Prix Formula One race, yacht-lined harbor and luxury high rises under the Maritime Alps.
“It’s a jewel in the Mediterranean” is how Monaco-based line producer John Bernard describes the micro-state famed as a tax haven for high net-worth individuals. TV executives from around the world will experience Monaco first-hand during the Monte Carlo TV Festival June 16-20.
“It’s emblematic, and it’s iconic,” adds Bernard, who is the founder of Monaco-based Jake Prods., which in 2009 made some of the key “Iron Man 2” scenes involving the Grand Prix possible. More recently, Bernard and his partner, producer Xavier Wakefield, have been instrumental to Sky Atlantic’s high-end TV series “Riviera” shooting its entire first season in the South of France; some of that shoot involved Monaco apartments, which are among the world’s priciest real estate.
“The proximity and the relationship between Monaco and France is extremely close,” Bernard says.
Monaco does not have a tax incentive for production. However, it is very easy for it to be part of a bigger shoot that is going on in France.
“So it is not inaccurate to say that you can shoot in Monaco and benefit from French tax rebates,” Bernard says, because to a certain extent you can use the French rebate while shooting in Monaco, albeit only on your French expenditure. France now has a very generous tax incentive capped at 30% of French spend. That in itself means there are more shoots coming to the South of France, which in turn has had a fallout effect on Monaco.
Crews can be hired out of the PACA region (French Riviera cities), which boasts France’s biggest film industry workforce after the Ile de France region (Paris and its suburbs).
Aside from the pull of French incentives over the years, Monaco has attracted an impressive list of movie shoots simply for its locations and hassle-free mentality.
Recent shoots include “Riviera,” “Grace of Monaco” and the upcoming Swedish tennis pic “Borg/McEnroe,” about the epic rivalry between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.
Responsibility for attracting foreign films and TV rests with the Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority topper Guillaume Rose, its head of marketing and sales Christophe Brico, as well as Laurent Puons, CEO of the Monte Carlo Television Festival.
“We have a strong can-do attitude in the principality, which is very useful for production companies,” says Puons. “We can get things done quickly and efficiently, and of course the weather is a big bonus.”
“Three hundred days of sunshine a year and amazing light” is how Bernard describes the weather. The downside is that summer can get very hot, so spring and fall are best, though winter should not be ruled out. “Riviera” shot in the Cote d’Azur for 130 days, with eight days in Monaco.
Last summer, due to complications with permits, Bernard moved a key scene in an American superhero pic, which he can’t name due to a non-disclosure agreement, into Monaco waters and air space. “It was put together at extremely short notice, completely going against the notion that Monaco requires a very long lead-in time,” he says. “We were able to make that happen efficiently and affordably. The future is looking very strong and positive.”
Bernard notes that two important shoots are coming to Monaco, the titles of which, due to non-disclosure agreements, he must keep under wraps.