Ile-de-France, Provence tout incentive

Projects will be selected for French aid on points system

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CANNES -- U.S. and international TV producers can now bank on a TRIP to France thanks to an agreement between the Ile-de-France and the Provence-Alpes-Cotes d'Azur region in the wake of the Gallic government's incentive for foreign production, the TRIP (Tax Rebate for International Production), passed this year.

The Ile-de-France region and the Provence-Alpes-Cotes d'Azur regions signed a joint agreement in Cannes on Monday that formalized their enthusiasm over the incentive and celebrated with a lunch at the Hotel Gray d'Albion.

"We're going to approach international production together," IDF Film Commission director Olivier Rene Veillon said, adding: "Screenwriters love to write in a couple of episodes about Paris, and the ratings prove that audiences enjoy stories based here as well."

The IDF and PACA regions will welcome stateside and foreign producers to shoot their screen formats on French soil. TV producers must spend €1 million ($1.4 million) to be eligible for the 20% rebate, capped at €4 million ($5.8 million).

All projects selected for the aid will be chosen based on a points system that will evaluate script content, crew members' nationalities and star-power. For example, said Veillon, "Jude Law adds points."

In addition to foreign feature films, TV dramas and live-action or animation fictional series are eligible for the rebate. However, the tax rebate isn't simply directed at U.S. producers looking to save money on production. "The decision to come to shoot here is first and foremost an artistic choice. No one will come to film a TV series just for financial reasons," Veillon said. French state film organization the CNC's Director of Multimedia and Technical Industries Guillaume Blanchot added: "This is just the icing on the cake."

The IDF Film Commission is planning to aggressively get the word out on the incentive during this year's MIPCOM and will host a stand featuring several of the country's industry players including Eclair Laboratoires, TeamTO and Cipango among others. Film Commission reps also emphasized the fact that the incentive for audiovisual production is unprecedented in Europe.

"We're ahead of the U.K. and Germany. Their tax credit isn't open to audiovisual production," Veillon said, adding: "MIPCOM is the perfect time to get the word out about this because the tax credit is now accessible."

The tax rebate has already received a huge response from U.S. filmmakers ready to set up shop in Gaul like Woody Allen, who will film his next movie in Paris in the summer, and Universal's Illumination Entertainment, who have partnered with Gallic FX house Mac Guff for several projects.

Director Clint Eastwood has also expressed an interest in shooting in the territory and has cast Belgian actress Cecile de France in his next film. But will the director head to Gaul for the project ? Film Commission reps are hoping the answer will be "oui." "Clint's next movie is a great love story, and what better place to film a great love story than in Paris?" Veillon said.