Buoyed by a sturdy local industry and sent soaring by the influx of international broadcasters, audiovisual production in Paris rose to record-setting levels in 2019. The French capital remained Gaul’s leading production market, encompassing 40% of all national and 36% of all foreign shoots in the country last year.
In harsh numbers, the city of light lit up 1,066 productions last year, counting 103 features and 97 series amongst them. Only those harsh numbers don’t quite tell the full story.
“In terms of key figures, the amount of productions is less important than the number of days worked,” explains Michel Gomez, executive director of the Paris Film Office. “While the number of productions has remained more or less stable from year to year, we’ve seen a significant difference in the number of shooting days.”
Indeed, last year saw 5,465 shooting days in Paris alone – a number up 10% from that of the previous year, and a staggering 84% from the 2,970 shooting days of 2015. And if the sheer scale of increase is staggering, its cause comes with little mystery. “This is, for the most part, due to the rise of series production thanks to our new friends from Netflix, Amazon and American TV,” Gomez adds.
Netflix alone accounts for a sizeable chunk. Their recently wrapped series “The Eddy,” executive produced by “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle and due to premiere in Berlin next month, accounted for more than 100 shooting days in Paris this past summer, while their still-ongoing, Omar Sy-led “Arsène Lupin” reboot kicked off a marathon production in November 2019 that will continue through to June 2020.
Couple those with the cable series “Emily in Paris” from producer Darren Star (“Sex and the City”) and two action blockbusters – one from Hollywood (“355”) and one from China (“The Hunting”) –which all shot primarily in Paris and sought to spotlight the city’s most familiar landmarks, and you have the makings for one particularly intense year for the municipal film authority.
“Today, I’d say that everything is difficult and everything is easy,” Gomez says. “Our job is to make things possible.”
To do so, the Paris Film Office relied on a streamlining process they had put into place in early 2017. “Until two years ago, when you wanted to shoot in Paris, you had to send one request to city hall and another to the local police prefecture,” Gomez explains. That all changed on Jan. 1, 2017, when they introduced AGATE, an online platform that facilitates all applications and permit requests.
“Today, we are the lone point of entry for the entire process,” he continues. “This makes it easier on productions, and has been a revolution for us.”
Of course, this rising level of demand has also had a marked effect on local service providers. Because series, by definition, require recurrent sets over long periods of time, this has prompted new investment in regional soundstages and backlots, while the steady stream of foreign producers lured by France’s 30% tax rebate has fueled the rise of local outfits that specialize in aiding international productions.
Of that latter group, Gomez is quick to single out Firstep, a local outfit that executive produced Paramount’s upcoming series “Emily in Paris” and its 2018 blockbuster “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.”
He then adds with a laugh, “When someone asks if an idea is feasible, I tell them to watch ‘Mission: Impossible.’ Once they do, they’ll see that we can shoot anything in Paris.”