Industry Report: Financing
Co-producing Between France, Belgium and Luxembourg: Dupuis Audiovisuel company
by CARTOON (European Association of Animation Film)
- Leon Perahia, the General Manager of Dupuis Audiovisuel, explains how the company manages to finance its projects by obtaining assistance in several territories. He also gives an overview on the possible sources of aid available in France, Belgium and Luxembourg.
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.
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
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:
>Televisions (cable, antenna broadcast): 20%
>CNC : 20%
>Tax credit; the majority of expenditure must be within Europe: 10%
>French producer: 10%
>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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