Some 100 locations agencies attended the Ile de France Film Commission’s location expo in Paris last week.
In spite of the recent alarm bells over French film production levels for the coming year, the mood at the Ile de France Film Commission’s annual location salon last week was quietly optimistic.
Some one hundred exhibitors attended the event unfolding over two days (Feb 13-14) at the City of Fashion and Design on the banks of the River Seine in Eastern Paris.
They ranged from historic sites such as the Chateau de Neuville, backdrop to classics such as Cyrano de Bergerac and Dangerous Liaisons, to the region of the Nord Pas de Calais, which hosted the shoots of Adele; Chapters 1 & 2 (aka Blue is the Warmest Colour) and the TV series The Tunnel.
Although French productions levels are expected to fall in 2014, the impact of changes to tax incentives for local productions and improvements to the Tax Rebate for International Production (TRIP) in 2012 is beginning to be felt.
Shooting days by local productions rose by 8.5% in 2013 while a number of international productions are set to hit France in 2014.
“There are a number of big budget films which will have real impact on the local industry,” commented Olivier-René Veillon, CEO of the Ile de France Film Commission.
On the exhibition floor, participants were equally upbeat.
“We’ve gone through a quiet couple of months but there are signs productions will pick up into the spring and summer,” commented Fabienne Dubanian at the Regional Film Commission for Provence, the Alps and the Cote d’Azur, the second most popular shooting destination in France after the Ile de France.
Recent releases shot in the region include Stranger by the Lake, Suzanne and Grand Central.
At the other end of the country, the regional film commission for the Nord Pas de Calais, which operates under the Pictanovo banner, is expecting a number of TV series and half a dozen feature films to shoot there over the next six months including Christine Carriere’s Une Mere and Emmanuelle Bercot’s La Tete Haute.
As well as financial incentives, Pictanovo also helps with location scouting and logistics.
“We’re getting involved in production earlier and earlier in their development,” commented Jerome Allard, who heads up Pictanovo’s shooting bureau.
Getting Abdellatif Kechiche to shoot Adele in and around region’s capital city of Lille was quite a coup, comments Allard.
“Even thought the comic strip on which the film is based was set in Lille, the director originally planned to shoot it in Paris,” said Allard. “We invited him up and really tried to understand his needs.”
Pictanovo also injected €185,000 into the project as a small co-financier. The production ended up spending five months in the region, shooting at a high school in the city and using some of its pupils as extras.
“I think one of the things that draws directors to the region is its authentic feel,” commented Allard.
For the first time a number of studios, situated in the Ile de France region, were in attendance.
Among them was Les Studios de Paris, the nine-stage facility spearheaded by director and EuropaCorp founder Luc Besson and managed by co-financier Euro Media France, which opened for business in September 2012.
Euro Media France’s commercial director Pascal Becu said the studios had been busy with a combination of EuropaCorp productions such as Malavita, Three Days to Kill and Lucy, other French films such Fred Cavayé’s Gaumont-produced Mea Culpa, TV series and high-budget ad shoots such as Karl Lagerfeld’s Coco Chanel tribute Once Upon a Time starring Kiera Knightly.
The facility is also hosting a Star Wars exhibition – featuring some 200 artefacts from the Lucas Arts Museum - on two of its stages until June.
“It’s not just EuropaCorp productions there’s a mix,” commented Euro Media France’s commercial director Pascal Becu.
A big international production, without EuropaCorp ties, however, remains elusive for the time being, admitted Becu.
“The changes to the tax threshold have helped but we’re still losing out to other territories with more generous schemes,” he said, citing Bill Mechanic’s France-set The Moon and The Sun, which will stop by the palace of Versailles for two weeks but will shoot mainly in Australia.
He noted, however, that Hunger Games: Catching Fire would use Euro Media France’s other facility in Bry-sur-Marne when it visited France later this year.
Other studios attending the salon included Studios D’Epinay, a favourite with the French film industry, which has hosted productions the Oscar-winning Amour, Cannes Film Festival-opener Grace of Monaco and the upcoming Les Vacances du Petit Nicolas and Bird People.
“There’s a lot of affection for the Epinay Studios amongst the French film industry,” commented its commercial director Eric Moreau. “Michel Gondry always works here. He at the studios only last week shooting a pop video for Metronomy.”
On the international front, Agnieszka Holland is due to shoot the new television version of Rosemary’s Baby, produced by Lionsgate Television at the studios.
For productions looking for less expensive locations the low budget Studio Kremlin / La Halle o Films – set in a disused factory on the outskirts of Paris which previously housed a second-hand good emporium – was also touting for business.
“We’ve invested in dressing rooms and production offices but the actual shooting space is very basic. It’s a huge space, some 2000 metres squared, so one of the biggest spaces close to Paris,” commented commercial manager Constance Cardon.