Sino productions shooting in France over last year include Jackie Chan’s upcoming adventure thriller Chinese Zodiac and box office hit Eternal Moment (Jiang Ai).
In yet another sign of China’s burgeoning film industry, Chinese productions shooting on location in France have increased tenfold over the past year, recent findings released by Film France have revealed.
“We’ve gone from a situation where we would get one Chinese production every year or two to five big productions in the last 12 months,” says Franck Priot, deputy manager of government-backed body Film France, which is responsible for promoting France as a shooting location.
“When we examined the trend more closely we realised that China is now one of the most important nations in terms of production spend in France,” he adds. “Over the last 12 months, Chinese productions have spent roughly five million euro here.”
Jackie Chan’s Chinese Zodiac, romantic comedy Perfect Baby and box office hit Eternal Moment (Jiang Ai) are among the Chinese productions to shoot in France recently. Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmasters also touched down in Paris for post-production at special effects house Buf.
Popular television series spin-off Eternal Moment was shot principally in the Chateau La France vineyard in the Bordeaux region last September and also visited other nearby locations such as the famous Pyla sand dune on the French Atlantic coast.
More recently, Chinese Zodiac — produced, directed and starring Chan as a special agent sent on a global mission to recover 12 precious Chinese zodiac animal statues — was in France for a month this June.
As well as one week in Paris, the production also spent time in the northern French region of Picardy, principally at the Chateau of Chantilly, where Chan filmed a spectacular roof-top chase scene.
Young, female director Jing Wang’s Amélie-style romantic comedy Perfect Baby, which goes on theatrical release in China this week, spent two weeks in Paris in January, shooting principally in the Montmartre neighbourhood.
The film stars Jane March, Deng Chao and French actor Jean-Baptiste Maunier, who has a strong following in China following the release there of Les Choristes (The Choir) in which he had a leading role.
Both Chinese Zodiac and The Grandmasters benefitted from the TRIP tax incentive, offering a 20 percent rebate on French-based costs to foreign film productions spending at least one million Euros in France.
But beyond the TRIP, Priot says the growing number of Chinese productions shooting in France is in large part a consequence of China’s burgeoning love of cinema.
“The Chinese box office is expected to surpass that of the United States in the coming decade… from 2009 to 2010 it increased by some 60 percent to 1.5 billion dollars,” he says.
“The Chinese film industry has gone from making some 50 pictures a year to 526 last year it is natural that this has generated more international productions.”
Denis Gillier, manager of Paris-based Bayoo Productions which acted as line producer on Chinese Zodiac, says France is a particularly “seductive” destination for Chinese productions.
“Our first big Chinese production was Hunan TV’s Dreams Link, a series of 46 episodes, which shot here a couple of years ago… since then we’ve really seen Chinese media companies opening up to the outside,” says Gillier.
“France is synonymous with an idea of luxury and is an increasingly popular destination for Chinese tourists… this combined with the exceptional locations make it particularly seductive for Chinese productions,” he explains.
Bayoo is currently working on Nos Années Francaises, a big budget television series about the time spent in France in the 1920s by key founders of the Chinese communist party, and is gearing up for another as yet unannounced Chinese feature-length film shooting in France in October.
The Nos Années Francaises television series is due to be shown on the flagship CCTV1 channel of the Chinese television network later this year to mark the centenary of the founding of the Republic of China.