Working with France: When Tax Rebate feels good
by Claire La Combe
- CANNES 2016: The national Tax Rebate for International Production was presented to a panel of around 60 international film professionals by the CNC
As part of the CNC conferences at the Cannes Film Market, and following on from the important topic of why and how to work with France, the national Tax Rebate for International Production (TRIP) was presented to a panel of around 60 very focused and attentive international film professionals.
The presentation began with a slide featuring the words: “Producing in France at the lowest possible cost”. It started well. The TRIP, as it has been nicknamed, is a 30% rebate programme aimed at international projects spending money within the French territory. It covers any type of audiovisual work and is available for filming as well as for post-production. “TRIP is simple” followed another slide – a seven-page form, a script and a deal memo are enough to apply, and there are very short response times (three to four weeks' processing time). The TRIP is also free of charge and scalable – it evolves with actual expenditure and is not limited to the provisional budget. A single project could receive a €30 million rebate in total, and would benefit from a rebate every financial year as long as expenditure continues. And good news came in January 2016 when the implementation of the 30% cash rebate level (as opposed to the previous rate of 20%) was announced. Continuing last year’s good news, when the minimum spend was lowered for films with a budget of less than €2 million: it is now 50% of the total eligible budget spent in France (instead of the former €1 million minimum spend).
Mélanie Chebance, a commissioner for Film France, is enthusiastic about how France is becoming more and more attractive, stating, “As of May this year, we have already doubled the provisional 2016 expenditure, based on last year’s figures. We already have 24 films qualified with more than €120 million spending planned, when last year, 20 films were supported for a total expenditure of €80 million.”
France continues to be very attractive thanks to the quality of its crew, and the numerous and diverse shooting locations it offers. Animation is one of the leading genres, with competitive structures such as 2 Minutes or TeamTO. The two recent evolutions to the rebate have helped in attracting European projects that would not have chosen to partner with French companies before. “TRIP is a real alternative for co-production now,” Mélanie Chebance affirmed.
The mechanism still needs improving if it is to be the number-one choice for international production. The UK remains France's biggest competitor, as they include the cast’s salaries in their expenditure eligibility, for example. “Film France and the CNC are working on this issue, but it is still very difficult to figure out in instances where different types and rates of taxation are mixed, such as salaries or goods.” But competition between EU countries to attract shoots is also cultural, in a way… The UK has often been the backdrop for US films and has developed enormous infrastructure such as Pinewood. “We are working with beautiful studio facilities in France to provide an offer that could attract large-scale US productions to set up bases in France; this is our challenge,” the film commissioner concluded.
Still, following her presentation at Cannes, Chebance received interest from an Indian, an Australian and an indie American project - enough to back up the hunch that France will break records this year when it comes to international productions.