How to coproduce with France? Conversation with Magalie Armand

We talk to a representative of the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC) Magalie Armand about the possibilities of coproducing with France.

PFI: Imagine I’m a Polish producer interested in getting the funds in France. What possibilities do I have?

Magalie Armand: There are three options when it comes to acquiring the French money support. The first one is the official coproduction when the film will be considered French in France. The second case is when the story or a hero leads you to France and you have to shoot there. Then you can rely on production services and the tax rebate for international production. The third option is in between coproduction and cooperation – Cinémas du monde is a special scheme for world cinema all over the planet. We call it a ‘technical coproduction’. Then your project doesn’t have to become French. It stays a Polish project and you still can get the support. If you want to make a coproduction with France (either official or technical) you have to find a French co-producer. It’s very important to find a good producer so you are in a really good relationship.

What are the criteria of the official coproduction?

When you do an official coproduction obviously you’re gonna have a lot of things to fill out, a lot of regulations to respect to be able to fit into criteria of a French film. It works similarly in many countries. The official coproduction will be within the French-Polish agreement our governments signed at 2012. Or if you are more than two countries you can do it within the European conventions. If you do an official coproduction it allows you to have access to all the public funding – the national funding  L’avance sur recettes (Avance on receipts), new technologies in production or bilateral funds, also easier access to TV channels. But if you apply for the Avance on receipts, your shooting language for a fiction film has to be French. You can have a Polish language film only in case of making a documentary. The process of filling the criteria is two-staged. The application needs to get 25 points to be considered for the French certification called “agrément”. The average support of  L’avance sur recettes is 450000 euro. Just to support strengthened bilateral activities with Germany, Greece, Portugal and Italy France has a total budget of 3 million euro per year.

What about Cinémas du monde?

Cinémas du monde has a total budget of 5 million euro and supports about 40 films every year. If there’s a reason why you can’t have an official coproduction you have a possibility of a technical coproduction. Cinémas du monde is open for feature film – fiction, documentary, animation. The language has to be the language of a director or of the shooting place so it’s for the non-French speaking projects. You can get the support at the stage of production but if you don’t get it you can come back after shooting and get the money for the postproduction. You can get Cinémas du monde in case of a technical coproduction, but then, the final budget has to be lower than 2,5 million euro (if > 2.5M€, you have to build an official coproduction and get the “agrément”). But I think that especially Polish debut films won’t have a problem with that.  And still if your film has a total budget of let’s say 1000000 euro, 100-130 000 euro will be a decent amount of support. Besides it opens you to the French market, the French distribution support and it’s always good to have this French connection to access the festivals.

How the selection process looks like?

Your French producer submits the project. He needs to apply in French so he has to translate the script, director’s note and so. 2 or 3 months after we have a preselection and one month later we know the final selection of the projects. We have 4 sessions a year – with applications in March, June, September and December. At the end we have about 40 projects selected.

We have two subcommittees. The first one is for first and second feature films of the director and the second subcommittee is for more experienced directors. The fund is very selective. 5 million euro seems to be a lot but actually it’s not so much because each session we get 60 applications for first and second features from all over the world and at the end we only have 5 projects supported. From the more experienced directors we get 35 applications and at the end you have 4 or 5 supported so totally 1 on 10 projects gets the support. The average support is 130000 for fiction, 65000 for documentary and 40000 for postproduction. It’s an obligation to spend half of the subsidy in France so it’s mostly postproduction industry.

It seems that Polish producers are not very active in acquiring funds from CNC’s Cinémas du monde.

Cinémas du monde was created in 2012. Since then we got around 1500 applications from all over the world. We have even supported 2 projects from the USA for example so even if we don’t have a coproduction agreement signed by our governments (France has a 56 agreements signed) we can still support projects from all over the world. Out of these 1500 applications only 9 were Polish.  We started to talk about these figures with the representatives of the Polish Film Institute. It seems that Polish producers simply don’t know about the program. We’re gonna try to organize next year a French-Polish workshop to put our producers together, talk about the needs of Polish site. We want to encourage Polish and French producers to meet more often, we want to give them occasion to know each other more and to develop the co-productions.

France is the biggest market in Europe. Not in terms of inhabitants but because we go to the cinema more. Many tickets are being sold, there’s a lot of festivals and sales agents. Every year we have over 140 coproductions in France. This year Cannes presented 36 of them. 12 were supported by Cinémas du monde. In 2015 at Cannes 18 films were made with the support of Cinémas du monde. 3 of these were in Competition, 9 in Un Certain Regard.

And one Polish accent “The Here After” – in Directors’ Fortnight section.

Exactly, the French-Polish-Swedish coproduction by Magnus von Horn. Mariusz Włodarski from Lava Films has found the partner – Cinema Defacto in France and got the support of 130000 euro from Cinémas du monde. I think it’s a model example that should encourage French-Polish coproductions. I really admired the way they worked together with the editor Agnieszka Glińska. The French partner discovered new talent in Agnieszka and he wants to continue the cooperation because of the personal relationship. So even if Poland wasn’t concerned as a partner at the beginning of the project they will co-produce with Poland just to have Agnieszka on board.

So you’re waiting for Polish applications at CNC.

I think that we have a lot of historical or social connections but maybe beyond the topics there are some cultural interests to work together. Young people change the film industry. They have the energy. We want to make a use of it by organizing this bilateral workshop.