France Touts Increased Incentives to U.S., European Producers at Karlovy Vary Festival

Paris France Eiffel Tower - H 2014
AP Images

Paris France Eiffel Tower - H 2014

Big grants and tax rebates are available in Europe's leading co-production hub, a festival panel hears.

International movie projects that have at least five shooting days in France can access up to $33 million (30 million euros) in tax rebates starting in January, a film industry panel was told at the Karlovy Vary film festival on Wednesday.

The country's Tax Rebate for International Production (TRIP) is raising from 20 percent to 30 percent the amount producers can claw back from eligible spending in France. Producers need to spend at least $1.1 million (1 million euros) in France, or up to half their in-country budget, and pass cultural tests to be eligible to claim the money, Melanie Chebance, head of producer liaisons at national movie commission Film France said about the previously disclosed incentives.

Speaking at an event organized by the FIlm New Europe Association during the festival in the Czech Republic, she said the new rules were designed to attract more international shoots to France.

A further $550 million (500 million euros) is also available for French and international co-productions from the national film funding body CNC, which raises money from a levy on cinema ticket sales, Internet and television companies.

A new distribution support fund for projects that gain CNC backing is also due to be launched in September with support from the EU's cultural program, Creative Europe/MEDIA.

European and international co-productions - working with a French producer - could access grants from two key funds: the ACM (Aide Aux Cinemas du Monde) - also known as the 'world cinema support' fund for projects with budgets under $275,000 (250,000 euros) and from the CNC's bilateral co-production fund for those with budgets above that figure.

Chebance said that France, which has co-production treaties with 55 countries worldwide, including Canada, Germany and most recently Lithuania, produces more than 200 co-productions every year, 120 of them classified as "official" where a film qualifies for grant purposes as a French film.

U.S. productions that have taken advantage of French grants recently include The Misfortunes of Francois Jane, shot on a $830,000 budget in France.

She urged European and international producers to apply for French co-production funds, adding that many love stories shoot in France because audiences worldwide associate the country and its capital, Paris, with romance.

"Never think you won't get anything - there are lots of exceptions to the [funding rules]. Talk to your French production partner."

But Vaclav Marhoul, a Prague-based director and producer currently putting funding together for an adaptation of Holocaust drama The Painted Bird - a story set in World War II by Jerzy Kosinski, best known for Being There - said gaining access to French funds was a challenge. Marhoul's film is based on a 1965 novel that was later adapted for the screen by Hal Ashby with Peter Sellers starring.

"I sent my project to 17 French producers and not a single one had the courtesy to reply. I cannot seem to break through that wall. The French co-production system is like Catch 22," Marhoul told The Hollywood Reporter.