Exhibition follows recent hikes in France’s film tax incentives.

The Musée d’Orsay, the Paris Metro and an army-owned Airbus A310 were among the many and varied backdrops on offer at the Ile-de-France Film Commission’s annual locations exhibition this year.

The third edition of the show, running Feb 14-15 at the futuristic Parc de La Villette in Eastern Paris, featured some 70 exhibitors - mainly from the French capital and surrounding region.

“It’s been a busy time for us. We’ve had three feature films over the last year,” says Livarilanto Ranarison, shooting coordinator for the Musée d’Orsay, home to masterpieces by Degas, Renoir and Cézanne, which is available to film crews on Mondays and in the evenings at a cost of $11,750 (€8,800) per session.

Recent productions to shoot against the grandiose backdrop of the former railway station include Louis Leterrier’s upcoming crime caper Now You See Me, featuring Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman and Woody Harrelson in the cast, and French romantic comedy Love is in the Air (Amours et turbulences) which shot a scene against the silhouette of the exterior clock face.

The Ministries of Defense, Interior and Justice were also present at the exhibition. In 2009, France passed legislation opening all state-owned buildings to film and TV shoots.

“The Ministry of Defense is one of the biggest land and property owners in France,” commented Captain Mickaël Molinié. “As well as prestige buildings like Les Invalides and military installations we also own vast tracts of land across the country.”

Simon Schama’s upcoming documentary series The History of the Jews recently visited the Ecole Militaire in Paris, for an episode on the Alfred Dreyfus Affair.

Bertrand Tavernier’s upcoming Quai d’Orsay, an adaptation of a graphic novel about a young French diplomat at the United Nations, made use of an army-owned Airbus A310 earlier this year.

Alongside coordinating shoots on MoD property and supplying military kit, the cinema office also offers technical advice for productions enacting military action.

“Last year we embedded two screenwriters with our troops in Afghanistan for one of the first films on the subject,” says Molinié, referring to Miguel Courtois’ Le piège Afghan.

Looking ahead, Molinié is expecting a busy 18 months as film and documentary productions hit France in preparation for the World War One centenary in 2014.

Not everyone was optimistic about prospects for the coming year.

“Demand has tailed off in the last six months. Usually we have two to three requests a month and since August it’s been dead. For the first time since we launched our cinema activities we have no shoots lined-up for the coming months,” said Jacquelin de la Rochefoucauld, owner of the private Chateau de Vaugien, who rents it out for shoots through his Cinévaugien company.  

The early 19th century chateau set in picturesque park land is usually a popular shooting destination. Bertrand Bonello’s House of Tolerance was shot there in its entirety and other productions to have passed through include Alice Winocour’s Augustine and Safy Nebbou’s Dumas (L’Autre Dumas) as well as an episode of the Transporter series, starring Chris Vince, which staged an elaborate shoot-out in the castle’s ornate atrium.

De la Rochefoucauld’s anecdotal observations concur with recent National Cinema Centre (CNC) data showing local production in France is under pressure. According to preliminary figures, shooting days in France for local productions fell by 15% in 2012 to 4,243 days against 5,002 in 2011 with the average shoot lasting 37 days against 40 days in 2011.

Ile-de-France Film Commission chief Olivier-René Veillon is hoping recent modifications to French film tax breaks will lead to an uptick in local and international productions shooting in France.

Under the changes, the ceiling on the Tax Rebate for International Production (TRIP), offering a 20% rebate on French costs to foreign shoots spending at least one million euros in France, rose to $12.9m (€10m) from $5.1m (€4m). The list of eligible costs was also expanded to include accommodation.  

“This makes the country more attractive to productions budgets up to $64m (€50m), rather than up to $25m (€20m) as is currently the case,” said Veillon. “I would have liked to have seen the cap lifted completely in the same way as the UK but this is also a good deal.”  

“The Ile-de-France has a wealth of sites which are at once emblematic of France and universally known… Now that our tax incentives are more on a par with those of our neighbours, we expect to see an increase in productions heading to France in the coming months.”