France’s President Emmanuel Macron outlined in a televised address on Wednesday new relief measures for the culture sector, including a temporary indemnity fund for canceled or postponed TV and film shoots during the pandemic.
Macron said the temporary indemnity fund will be launched by the National Film Board (CNC), in collaboration with the regions and private partners, including banks, loan institutions and insurers. “Everyone will have to take their responsibilities… We won’t be able to do it on our own,” said Macron, alluding to insurers’ systemic exclusion of pandemic-related risks from their coverage.
On a case-by-case basis, the fund will aim to help French producers if they are forced to pause or reschedule filming because of the coronavirus crisis but aren’t covered by insurance. The initiative will be accessible to shoots scheduled in the months to come. France’s culture minister Franck Riester said in an interview for the TV magazine C’est à Vous on Wednesday evening that the amount of the fund will be above 50 million euros ($54 million).
Among the 23 shoots that were stopped when France went into lockdown March 17 were four movies from Pathe Films, notably the period drama “Eiffel” with Romain Duris and Emma Mackey, the fourth instalment of the comedy franchise “Les Tuche,” Fred Cavayé’s WW2 drama “Adieu Monsieur Haffmann” with Daniel Auteuil et Gilles Lellouche, and David Moreau’s “King.”
Pathe Films president Ardavan Safaee told Variety that Pathé was awaiting more details on the initiative and that it will be a “long and complex process.” “The priority for us is to restart our shoots,” he said.
Macron said shoots won’t restart in France until the end of the month, and most likely in June and July. Permits will be given on a case by case basis as well.
Nicolas Coppermann, the boss of Endemol Shine France, said he hoped the initiative didn’t just apply to series and films but also non-scripted entertainment. “It is crucial that all audiovisual producers and all genres of programs be able to benefit from this fund.”
Eric Altmayer, co-founder of Mandarin Productions who is eager to begin the lensing of Francois Ozon’s next film, said solving the insurance issue was one of the key conditions of getting back into filming, along with the drafting of sanitary measures that have to be presented to the health minister before the end of the week and are proving “divisive.”
“All these new health requirements will increase the cost and duration of shoots, and getting us covered by insurance will be much pricier going forward. We’ll certainly have to purchase an extension to have access to the indemnity fund and we still don’t know what will be the cap of indemnities covered,” said Altmayer. “All these expenses will fall on producers’ shoulders…Meanwhile, the financing from the National Film Board and TV channels is going to drop because of this crisis.”
Altmayer applauded Macron for addressing the need for all streaming services, including Netflix and Amazon, to start contributing to French and European creation starting in January as part as the European Commission’s SMA directive.
The president delivered the address following a consultation with several industry figures, including the filmmakers Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache (“Intouchables”), actress Sandrine Kiberlain, and theater director Stanislas Nordey, among others.
Aside from the fund, Macron also said freelance workers, including artists and crew members who make up the bulk of filming and post-production crews, will have until August 2021 to complete their hours in order to receive subsidies.
Details on the new measures will be unveiled in the next few days by the culture minister Franck Riester and the economy and employment ministers, Bruno Le Maire and Muriel Penicaud, respectively.
France’s lockdown will be gradually lifted starting May 11. Movie theaters will remain shut and are expected to reopen in early July. French exhibitors have requested a month’s warning prior to reopening in order to get prepared.