Country Focus: France
France: description of the main Regional Funds (March 2005)
by Fabien Lemercier
16/03/2005 - French regions make their movies
In its search for new film financing sources, the French film production sector has found in its regions new partners increasingly receptive. Here under is a general overview of regional support to film financing in France.
French regions are increasingly involved in film financing with 21 M€ available for feature film in 2004, that is 7M€ more than in 2003, a budget now almost in line with the annual grant from the ‘Advance on receipts’. The upwards trend is going even faster today since the signing up of new regional Agreements last year by the Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC) stating that the governement will contribute one euro for two invested by the regions (with a ceiling set at 1M€ by region and 10M€ per year). This partnership has been truly successful as the first three-year Agreement with the Region Centre in October 2004 was followed in less than six months by 16 others to support the local feature film production.
With its aim to stimulate the creation of local film production funds, the French government’s strategy seems to be working as French regions that used to be on the back seat such as Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Provence-Côte-d’Azur or even Brittany are now at the forefront of film production support. The Ile-de-France region and the Rhône-Alpes region are still in first and second position. But feature film is not the only production sector to benefit from regional support as regional agreements have been able to raise as much as 7 M€ towards short-film and documentary filmmaking, and TV production will also be included in 2005.
The new partnership between the government and the French regions intially set up to stem runaway productions, is also very attractive for European producers as French regional funds are also open to majority non-French co-productions as long as a French co-producer applies for regional film support. Furthermore, Film commissions linked to the various regional film funds are starting to create partnerships with their European counterparts such as l’Ile-de-France who signed three agreements on 24 January, 14 and 22 February with the Germans from the Filmförderung Berlin-Brandeburg, the Spanish from the the Madrid Film Commission and the Italians of Lazio Film Commission (headed by Cinecittà Holding). The agreements between the film commissions will hopefully facilitate the making of mainstream European co-productions while avoiding the spiralling competition between regional film funds in Europe.
Fabien Lemercier 1. The essential Ile-de-France region French leader in regional film and audiovisual production support, the Ile-de-France region has become in four years the second most important institutional public film fund in France. Set up in 2001, its Technical Industrie Film Fund invested 10 M€ in the local technical industries in 2003, and the same amount was made available in 2004. This year, the budget has been raised to 14 M€. In total, some 88 feature films and TV films were supported in 2004 including Jacques Audiard’s De battre mon cœur s’est arrêté [trailer] (Why Not Productions–400 000 euros grant), Bernard Jeanjean’s J’me sens pas belle (Kare Productions–180 000 euros grant), Merzak Allouache’s Bab El Web [trailer] (Maïa Films–200 000 euros grant), Alexandra Leclère’s Les Soeurs fâchées (Pan Européenne Production–250 000 euros grant), Dominik Moll’s Lemming [trailer] (Diaphana–320 000 euros grant), Patrice Chéreau’s Gabrielle [trailer] (Azor Films–280 000 euros grant) and Danis Tanovic’s L’Enfer [trailer] (A.S.A.P Films – 420 000 euros grant).
The script select committee meets three times a year to choose feature film projects based on their artistic merit. But several other criteria must be met. Indeed, only film companies or organisations established in France can apply, and foreign productions must be temporary based in France with a liaison office. Also, at least 50 % of the shooting must be done in the Ile-de-France region, and two out of four local production services ("set decoration and costumes", "technical means", "Labs and digital special effects", "sound and editing") must be used. Finally, only the productions whose costs and salaries spent in Ile-de-France are considered as being sufficient according to a point system including local technicians, creative staff (sound/image specialists, set decorators and editors) to skilled workers (carpenters etc) can apply for regional support.
The grants from the Ile-de-France region –non-reimbursable unless the film is a box office hit- are allocated according to the number of weeks shot in the region and the number of local services used (2, 3 or 4 of the ones mentioned here above). The allocation ranges from 152 449 euros for a five week shoot and the use of 2 local services to 731 755 euros maximum for a 12 weeks shoot or more and the use of four local services. Last but not least, the maximum amount of public support cannot exceed 50% of the total film budget.
All the details and application forms can be downloaded on the official Ile-de-France region website ( www.iledefrance.fr).
2. Rhône-Alpes and Paca regions: the challengers
Traditional partner to French and European filmmakers, Rhône-Alpes Cinéma film fund has an original set up as a limited company founded in 1990 with the Région Rhône-Alpes as minority shareholder. The company can act as a feature film co-producer and also supports script development. Its support is given against a share of the profits and copyrights. The region co-produces on average 10 to 12 films per year and last year, a total of 3.6M€ was spent in film support. Among the most recent feature films supported are Arnaud Desplechin’s Kings and Queen [trailer], Jean-Marc Moutout’s Work hard, play hard [trailer], Valérie Guignabodet’s Mariages!, Eléonore Faucher’s A common thred and Jean-Pierre Denis’s La petite chartreuse [trailer].
The main condition to access the fund is for the production company asking for support to have a professional ID card issued by the CNC. The application form for the project must also bear a signature from the director; at least 25 % of the financing of the project must come from other sources than the producers’ own investments or must have obtained an Advance on receipts from the CNC; a significant proportion of the shooting must take place in the region and the production –or co-production- must have received investment approval from the CNC. Rhône-Alpes-Cinéma also intervenes in the first stage of feature film development with script development support. In such a case, the costs of script development must already be covered at 50% and the majority of the shooting must be spent in the region.
Still at an early stage as it only started in 2003, the feature film production fund of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region will probably become one of the most dynamic ones in the years to come. The opening last June of the Studios de Marseille as a complement to the existing Studios de la Victorine in Nice reinforced the film potential of the region already at the second place in terms of number of film shootings in France (17 % of all shootings in France in 2003 with 107 only in Marseille). Asked for by many local film professionals including the famous Marseillais director Robert Guédiguian, the PACA regional fund was worth 1,5 M€ in 2003 and 1,92 M€ in 2004. Available to French film and TV producers, the fund is also open to European producers within the context of majority French co-productions. The financial support similar to the advance on receipts system for feature films is also available for script-writing (5500 euros maximum), research (15 000 euros) and development (5000 euros).
In relation to production support, the feature film projects applying for a grant of 152 000 euros maximum per film must already have a TV and theatrical distribution deal in place and 50% of the shooting time must be spent in the PACA region. The same criteria apply for short films, documentaries and TV series. The distribution deal must then represent 20% of the production budget and the PACA region support cannot exceed 77 000 euros. For TV drama productions, investments from broadcasters must cover 40% of the budget and the PACA’ s support is capped at 54 000 euros. Finally Live action short films and documentaries can also apply if 50% of the filming takes place in the region.
3. Directory of French Regional Film Funds
Sources : Atelier de Production Centre Val de Loire’s Guilde 2005:
Ile-de-France: 10 million euro (2004)
Rhône-Alpes: 3,6 million euro (2004)
Nord Pas-de-Calais: 2,7 million euro (2004)
PACA: 1,92 million d'euros (2004)
Charente: 1,8 million euro (2004)
Collectivité territoriale de Corse: 1,58 million euro
Tel: 00 33 (0)4 95 51 64 94
Poitou-Charentes: 1,36 million euro (2004)
Aquitaine: 1,1 million euro (2004)
Centre: 1,08 million euro (2004)
Limousin: € 825.000 (2004)
Midi-Pyrénées: € 816.000 (2004)
Bretagne: € 778.000 (2004)
Réunion: € 701.000 (2004)
Franche-Comté: € 586.000 (2004)
Pays-de-la-Loire: € 584.000 (2004)
Haute-Normandie : € 555.000 (2004)
Alsace: € 545.000 (2004)
Lorraine: € 372.000 (2004)
Picardie: € 313.000 (2004)
Basse-Normandie : € 169.000 (2004)
Auvergne: € 147.000 (2004)
Champagne-Ardennes: € 85.500 (2004)
Charente-Maritime: € 403.000 euros (2004)