Though local theatrical exhibitors have yet to find their pre-pandemic footing, the myriad technicians making up Paris’ 160,000-strong production workforce have never had so much to do. Buoyed by the local industry and sent to the stratosphere by the demand of international streamers, audiovisual production has soared in Paris and its surrounding region.
As film production has returned to its 2019 level, the rate of television work has more than doubled between 2020 and 2021, and the reasons for this boom come with little mystery. “The offer has exponentially increased due to circumstantial and structural reasons,” explains Remi Bergues, managing director of Film Paris Region. “First, due to increased demand because people are home more and thus watching more series, and second, because this competition from international streamers has pushed local broadcasters to increase their own scales.”
Indeed, as Netflix series like “Emily in Paris” and “Lupin” have found global audiences (and multi-season renewals) on the streaming platform, local broadcasters have bolstered their own productions slates to meet audience demand. “Local broadcasters need to up production in order to remain viable, to maintain their economic model, and to not lose their audiences,” says Bergues. “[Which means that] French TV channels are now producing fewer one-offs and more short series to better meet the public’s new expectations.”
In 2021, prestige series flourished in and around Paris, which hosted HBO’s Olivier Assayas-directed, Alicia Vikander-led “Irma Vep,” Canal Plus’ Xavier Giannoli-directed, Vincent Lindon-led “Tikkoun” and the lavish period epic “Marie Antoinette.” Other projects included Arte’s Jean-Xavier de Lestrade-directed “The Inside Game” and the Franco-Japanese co-production “The Drops of God” for France Television.
In practical terms, this influx resulted in 42% increase in projects supported by Film Paris Region, which assisted 287 projects in 2020 and 409 projects the following year. In terms of foreign titles, the regional commission supported three times as many productions in 2021 as it had the previous year, while individual technicians worked a collected 6,000 shooting days in that same 365-day period.
“The reason is simple,” says Michel Gomez, executive director of the City of Paris film office. “When you’re talking about a film it’s a question of weeks; when you’re talking about a series it’s a matter of months.”
In anything, 2022 looks to be even busier, as international players like Netflix and HBO are joined by Apple TV, which will launch production on two (as of yet unannounced) series that will set up shop in April and will run through the end of the year.
But the biggest upheavals in 2022 will be relative to production logistics themselves. As the Paris region puts into place a new set of initiatives to spur sustainable practices, local projects will be asked to cut back their carbon emissions by – among other things – cutting back on power.
“We’re going to reduce the number of vehicles and generators necessary for shoots,” says Gomez. “That means productions will require more sophisticated logistics. For example, in the U.S. and U.K., you have ‘base camps.’ There’s the set, and then a few hundred meters away you have all the trucks parked. We’re going to start organizing similar things in Paris.”