Running from Jan. 16-17 in Paris’ Parc Floral, what was previously known as the Paris Images Location Expo will enter its 10th edition with a changed name, a different locale, and an expanded, industry focus.
Newly rebranded as The Production Forum, the two-day trade show will host more than 100 exhibitors from throughout the French scene, this year spotlighting film schools, VFX houses and post-production outfits alongside the traditional location representatives and service providers in a bid to present global players a more holistic view of France’s overall production infrastructure.
This sort of broad-view approach marks an ambitious step forward for the early-in-year event, which initially launched out of sheer opportunity: Because onsite production tends grind to a halt with every dark and dreary January, expo organizers sought to capitalize on the annual lull in order to showcase Paris-based locations to local producers in between shoots.
Since its 2011 launch, the location expo has expanded in size and scope, beginning as something site-specific to the overall Paris region before widening to include location reps, publicly funded film commissions, and professional associations from all over the country. “It started as very regional, then it become very national,” says Film Paris Region executive director Remi Bergues, who is overseeing this year’s event. “And now we want it to be more international.”
And so alongside the new moniker comes a new operational mandate – to promote the full French supply chain on a global scale. “Generally, international productions only come here to shoot one or two scenes,” says Bergues. “Very often, international producers only think of France for its locations and not for its talent and service providers, whereas we have a very strong [production infrastructure]. We want to showcase the full supply chain and show that we can help every step of the way.”
This year’s change in name and location is in many ways a product of that new incentive. For the first time, The Production Forum will take place under the same roof as the cinematography-focused trade-show Micro Salon and a series of financing conferences organized by the CNC and Film-France. “We decided to combine our visitors in order to make the experience more valuable for them,” Bergues explains. “That way, they can get many different aspects of what they need at the same time, and at the same place.”
Of course, it’s also a response to larger industry trends. As global OTT services push to gain – and subsequently keep – footholds in European countries, they’ll do so in part by upping domestic series production within those various markets.
But if those streamers stand ready to up their investments, they do require a certain level of scale. “The OTT platforms coming to Europe need soundstages to actually be able to industrialize production,” Bergues continues. “[Whereas traditionally we] use less soundstages than other countries, and so we were probably less equipped. But the market is changing.”
Indeed, The Production Forum will put a major emphasis on the myriad construction projects popping up all over the Ile-de-France region. Bergues is quick to mention the TSF Backlot 217, a 20-hectare outdoor production facility in a former airbase 20 miles south of Paris. “There, nine soundstages will be built in the next 24 months,” he adds. “They will be completely eco-conceived, and completely sustainable… [And] they will be large scale, big enough for the American platforms to use.”
Alongside programs dedicated to diversity and the promotion of emerging voices, the topic of sustainability will be another significant focus, with a number of green shooting round-tables and conferences planned, and the Ecoprod collective – an industry organization dedicated to promoting best practices within the French industry – given a prominent and highly visible spot on the convention floor.
As Bergues sees it, all is part of a plan to unite the larger national industry at The Production Forum. “The big project was to gather all the supply chain [under one roof, because] it’s important that we really work to bring all these stakeholders together, in order to be more productive,” he says. “We want this to be a forum for professionals to meet and discuss new projects. It’s not only for exhibitors, service providers and locations – it’s also a place for people to meet and work together.”