At the beginning of December 2017, the French national center for cinematography (CNC) announced the reform of the production certification scale and Ms Frédérique Bredin, president of the CNC, commented about the new system as follow « This is a major reform for French cinema. It was important to modernize our support system, to make it more flexible and to reinforce its artistic dimension « .
It is to be recalled that the production certification has a central role in the financing of film production: it allows the producers to access automatic support and is necessary to qualify for selective support from the CNC. Usually, the approval threshold is set at 25 points on a scale of 100 points (20 points for foreign initiative films). The gross amount of points is also used to obtain the multiplying factor applied for the production automatic support: the more a film has points, the more the producer support account will be credited.
Despite the evolution of the film production, the terms and conditions of the production certification have not evolved for many years. Also, the CNC entrusted Alain Sussfeld with a reflection mission in view of reforming the production certification process. Following the submission of his report in 2016, the professional organizations have been consulted to determine the definitive terms of the reform.
In its press release, CNC highlights the pursuit of several goals: the necessity of the integration the digital revolution and a will to strengthen both the relocation of productions and the cultural dimension of CNC’s support. To this end, CNC implements new modalities and new point scales of which we roll out some examples here after.
In general :
•delegate production goes down from 10 to 9 points ;
•New derogatory thresholds are introduced in addition to the thresholds at 25 and 20 points: 15 points for countries with fragile cinematography, 9 points for financial co-productions
•A line “digital visual effects” is added. It is nonetheless understood that if there is no or very few numeric visual effects such points are granted if the post-production points (audio and images) are granted.
•The deadline to apply for approval is doubled to 8 months after the visa is granted;
•It is understood that the rule « post not filled = points earned » applies only regarding films of French initiative, with the exception of the provisions specific to the line « digital visual effects ».
For fiction films we can note that:
•The shooting language line represents 20 points and leads to the qualification of French audiovisual work. 10 points are awarded, without qualification of EOF if the French is significant (between 1/3 and 50%) and that the use of a foreign language and justified;
•The lines « key roles » and « secondary roles » are merged and represent 20 points (formerly 10 and 10). The allocation is made in proportion of the number of artists’ fees (from 3 fees per artist) of nationality or European residence, under French law contract, on the total number of fees ;
•Authors (other than director) go from 4 to 5 points;
•To be taken into account, an author must be of European nationality or residence, and under a French law contract. If the author is extra-European, the points are acquired only if the producer is the initiator of the project.;
•The lines relating to technicians are modified and take into account, on the one hand, the creative staff within the meaning of the collective agreement (9 points) and on the other hand all workers and technicians (11 points) (formerly: 14 points for « creative technicians » as listed by the CNC and 6 for workers). The points « Workers and technicians » are allocated in proportion to the remuneration, including any contributions, of employees of European nationality or residence, employed under French contract in view of the total remuneration of technicians, including any contributions.
•The points for « Shooting materials» and « Post-production » are granted if at least 50% of the expenses are located in France.
For animation films, the reform operates a complete overhaul of the system and the scales for traditional animation and computer-generated animation are merged. Thus, the allocation of points varies significantly and a frontal comparison is not relevant.
For documentaries we can rapidly point out that:
The line « director » earns a point while other authors and the composer points are decreasing;
•The line « interpret of the comments » decrease of 3 points;
•« Shooting » goes from 2 to 3 points;
•The line « technicians » is restructured and is worth a total of 22 points (+2).
It is imperative for producers to take into account these new scales during the development and production of films and to properly structure the production of their films if they wish meet the production certification criteria and benefit from high number of points.
Finally, films benefiting from the production certification can generate of financial support for the benefit of the company that distributes such films. Therefore, production certification is also essential for a distributor. Accordingly, the reform provides a distribution certification process in case of failure of the producers within the production certification process. Such distribution certification process is set in place to the benefit of distributors for the films that benefited from the CNC’s investment approval and for the non-certified films with a high artistic potential. High artistic potential is determined by the selection of the films in specific festivals as listed by the CNC (Annecy, Cannes, Berlin, Toronto…).
If the reform is wide-ranging and ambitious, it is nevertheless necessary to wait to discover its effects and its actual impact on French film production. Some producers unions have already called for a general reform of the CNC support in order to promote independent production.
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