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Dossier: Financement

Coproduire entre la France, la Belgique et le Luxembourg: la société Dupuis Audiovisuel

par Cartoon, the European Association of Animation Film

Coproduire entre la France, la Belgique et le Luxembourg: la société Dupuis Audiovisuel

05/03/2009 - Léon Perahia is the General Manager of Dupuis Audiovisuel, the French production company of the Dupuis Group.
He has launched the adaptation of several famous comics. He produced 52 episodes of Spirou in co-production with TF1 and RT BF; 26 episodes of Flash Gordon (with Hearst, Canal + and France 3); 52 episodes of Papyrus (TF1, RT BF), 26 episodes of Vor-Tech (Universal); as well as the successful 156-episode series Cédric (France 3 and RT BF) and the 104 episodes of Kid Paddle (M6/RT BF). Léon has also headed live action productions.

(L'article continue plus bas - Inf. publicitaire)

Dupuis Audiovisuel manages to finance its projects by obtaining assistance in several territories. How is it possible to benefit from aid from one territory without diminishing the aids from other territories?
Today it is feasible to mount projects by seeking to optimise financing on the basis of coproductions involving two or three territories. Dupuis works principally within France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Remember that Luxembourg also has an extremely favourable tax credit system. These systems are not always easy to bring into harmony.
The problem is that not everything is simply related to the level of local expenditure. The territories, France in particular, have introduced gridpoint systems which are not proportional to the total local expenditure, but unlock the possibility of accessing French tax credit, or the Luxembourg certification system, if a specific number of points is not passed.

What would be an example of the type of financing possible between France and Belgium?
A fairly typical coproduction is the series Sam Sam which was able to benefit from the combined systems, but at the price of an organisation of production which was not necessarily optimal. On average, we manage to obtain 20% of the total budget of a series thanks to the TV broadcasters. The typical structure of a Franco-Belgian coproduction is as follows:

France
>Televisions (cable, antenna broadcast): 20%
>CNC : 20%
>Tax credit; the majority of expenditure must be within Europe: 10%
>French producer: 10%

Belgium
>Subsidies (Tax Shelter, Wallimages): 15%
>Belgian producer: 5%
>International sales: 20%

The sum of government aids cannot exceed 50% of the financing.

The two coproducers will provide 80% of the financing. A financing deficit (financing gap) remains, of around 20% which we must seek internationally (either Guaranteed Minima or pre-sales). Each producer retains his own territory and the international aspect is shared between the coproducers. To carry out this type of coproduction, one of the partners must be clearly the majority partner. It is not possible to combine, in an optimal manner, a Franco–Belgian coproduction with a 50-50 equilibrium taking into account of the size of the countries and the financial capacity of the broadcasters.
Dupuis Audiovisuel (which is a French company), optimises French financing. When we reach the maximum obtainable in France, we turn to Belgium.

What are the sources of aid a producer can benefit from in France?
In France, the CNC is the « flagship » of the systems of support. The system is financed by a tax raised on each cinema ticket and on the publicity revenues the broadcasters receive from the advertisers. To obtain CNC aid, at least 30% of the budget must be spent in France (20% for animation). If the French expenditure rises to 60% of the budget, the amount that can be obtained from the CNC is in the order of a million euros for a 26x26’ series.
There is a bonus of around 250,000 euros if French expenditure rises to 70% and a further bonus of 200,000 if expenditure in France reaches 80%. The support of a broadcaster or distributor is necessary before CNC aid can be obtained.

The second type of French support is in tax credit. This is either deducted from the taxable base of the production company, or if the taxable base is not sufficient for deduction of the value of the tax credit, the state returns this in cash. The tax credit is calculated at 20% of the eligible local expenditure. Tax credit sometimes results in an incompatibility with coproduction with other countries. It was established to bring back into France the creation of works of animation. The system is adapted to the type of production (animation series, or feature-length animation). The producer can obtain a maximum of € 1 million for a feature-length work, or € 1,200 per minute for a T V series, to a ceiling of € 650,000.
Tax credit is a discretionary system. It is not at all automatic. It is not sufficient to spend from the budget in France to obtain tax credit. The production must be created principally in France, adhering to a point grid. The work must qualify as French, contribute to the development of the industry in France, and must be in the French language.

We also have Soficas in France. This is a body for investment in projects in return for revenue shares. Regional aids also provide important support, with aid of up to 15% of local expenditures.
An aspect fundamental to the French financing system is the broadcasters’ obligation to invest in independent production. Each broadcaster must invest 3.2% of its sales turnover in independent production.

What sources of aid can a producer aim for in Luxembourg?
There is a system of audiovisual certification. Firstly, a base is calculated from which the overall sum will be determined. This base is the total budget. The maximum aid level is 30% of the total budget for the work. As this involves considerable sums, the government has introduced rules for regulation of the aid coefficient, on the basis of a grid point system. The proportion of the 30% that may be granted is highly dependant on the overall expenditure in Luxembourg, and on the quality of this expenditure.
With a Luxembourg minority coproducer with an interest in the region of 15%, we can raise between 5% and 10% of the global budget in Luxembourg.
The aid grid has 210 points. If 100 points are reached within the 210, the producer can receive 30% of the global budget. However, points are necessary in positions of quality. For instance, it is required that at least 10 points include the site director and the technicians.

Cartoon Master Munich, Germany, June 2008

 

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