Though rising finance in France has become increasingly complicated, the French film industry is still recognized as being the strongest in Europe, due to its relatively high domestic market share, even in off years, and a financing model including national, regional and local subsidies, obligatory TV investments and tax incentives.
The main change to this system in recent years has been the introduction of the country's two-tier tax rebate scheme - for domestic and international productions.
Since 2013, the U.K. has extended rebates to vfx work, animation and TV production, mirroring the French model.
France decided to enact tax rebates because it was keen to attract more international productions and was equally concerned to curb its own runaway shoot phenomenon - in particular to stop French films relocating to cheaper locations in Eastern Europe and also to French-speaking neighbors, Belgium and Luxembourg.
The hike in the caps on the schemes, introduced in 2013, has ensured an increasing concentration of shoots in France.
In 2013, there was an average of nine shoots per day in Paris, of which one third were feature films.
The Paris-Ile de France region is increasingly positioning itself as Europe's premier film production hub, while simultaneously building synergies with its closest rival, London, and also with production hubs in Belgium and Luxembourg.
"One of the key things that France has for producers is the quality of services that we can offer, including first class technicians, internationally renowned locations, significant financing and now world class studios and special FX resources," explains film financier Leonard Glowinski, prexy of Paris-based film fund consultancy, 22h22.
"Our strength in France is that we're not just specialized in one area. We offer the full package," says Franck Priot, COO of Film France. "Our strength is that we can offer everything and we have developed many ways of working together."
In the European film world, many roads lead to Paris, given the high proportion of co-productions involving the French film industry.
The Paris-Ile de France region boasts the presence of pan-European media groups such as pay TV giant, Canal Plus Group, and houses the overwhelming majority of French production companies, VFX companies. It also benefits from the fact that France hosts the leading film and TV gatherings in Europe - the Cannes Festival and the MIP and Mipcom TV markets.
Of particular significance, the region is home to many of Europe's leading international sales agents, thus centralizing market knowledge and distribution links.
Finally, the region has significant economic muscle - it's Europe's second-biggest economic region and generates 5% of Europe's total GDP.
Paris is unlikely to overtake London in terms of attracting Hollywood shoots - due to differences of language and filmmaking culture - but the region nonetheless has strategic advantages that are likely to pay dividends over the medium term.
The multi-lingual mix of French film production means that it can court many more international partners, while at the same time its strong indigenous industry makes it less dependent on volatile foreign spend.
The U.K. situation is very different, given that 80% of U.K. production spend is generated by inward investment films, which can vary considerably from one year to the next.
Excluding studio pictures, the indigenous U.K. industry represents less than 15% of the total production spend on French films.
"Cinema has always had cycles," explains Thierry de Segonzac, prexy of technicians union FICAM. "You need a strong domestic industry to bide you through the lean years."
TRIP Powers French Film Hub
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