The end of the French model?
by Thierry de Segonzac
03/04/2012 - For months now, our industries have been weathering a storm. As all European small and medium enterprises, those from the technical sector are undergoing a severe economic crisis that adds itself to the cost of technological changes.
Despite their important role in the national production ecosystem, our industries no longer directly benefit from the French model, since in 2005 the European Commission excluded them from the cultural perimeter. Thus, direct assistance to technical industries only represents 0,8% of the CNC’s support fund. Under such a system - and we will not question the €100m system to their advantage - over 20 years would have been necessary to support cinema digitisation, although in reality this considerable shift only took 18 months…
The result? When shooting and post-production equipment suddenly became obsolete, technical industries were suddenly forced to massively update their technical equipment. The necessary investment multiplied by two or three could not be found from credit establishments, whose cautiousness has hit all small to medium entreprises.
In this context of great fragility, technical leaders in the cinema and audiovisual sector still today receive minimum support from the CNC, and are left to their own devices to find solutions to an undeniable blow to the durability of the French cinematographic industry.
Of course, the French authorities are trying to obtain the reintergration of technical industries into the perimeter of the cultural exception from Brussels. But this call for political will has obviously not been heard by the European Commission, that tirelessly pursues its objective of total market deregulation, a pillar of its technocratic ultra-liberal ideology. Succesive blows to European state support mechanisms for years now have shown its determination, however great the risk that the larger half of national production will collapse, a risk that they pretend to ignore.
Destructuring the French model, and its technical industries in particular, is a major risk for production because of their complimentarity. The reasons are clear:
First, it’s a geographical risk, as technical industries are essential for filming sets and certain phases of post-production.
Then, it’s a cultural risk, as the genre, the style, the talent of technicians, part of each state’s unique cultural make-up, are a wealth not a handicap.
Finally, it’s a risk for “talents” and the renewal of new generations of directors. Let’s not forget that, every year, French technical industries support the production of over 400 short films and about 80 first feature films.
This year 2012 will once again be marked by a review of national and regional public aid systems, their nature and terms. As it seems now, this upheaval will certainly cause the end of the French model. Yet this is in no one’s interest. It is not in the interest of the European Union, not in the interest of our cinema industry, and even less in the interest of our line of work.
Our federation will definitely rally to take a stand on this vital issue. It really is a question of life or death.
Thierry de Segonzac is the president of the Federation of Cinema, Audiovisual and Multimedia Industries (FICAM)
(Translated from French)