Public Support Drives Animated Innovation in France

Since 2019, 98 animated titles have benefited from France’s tax-rebate on international productions (TRIP) scheme, representing 27% of all projects and reflecting a wider industry desire to make the country a global toon boom hub.

This year’s Annecy Animation Festival will share the fruits of that program – which offers an across-the-board 30% tax rebate for international productions, with an additional 10% bonus to projects that partner with local VFX houses — showcasing internationally funded, made-in-France projects like Illumination’s “Despicable Me 4” and Studio Ponoc’s anime fantasy “The Imaginary.” Meanwhile local artists are currently hard at work bringing Illumination’s “The Super Mario Bros. 2” to life at Illumination’s Paris facility.

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Recent big-screen blockbusters that benefited from that program include “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” while Netflix’s small-screen sensation “Blue Eyed Samurai” and upcoming titles “The Doomies” from Disney+, “Creature Commandos” from James Gunn and MAX/Warner, and the Zack Snyder’s “Twilight of the Gods” all proudly boast that made in France label.

Looking to strengthen the local production sector, France’s National Film Board (CNC) earmarked $376 million in public support and an additional $2.15 billion in private funds as part of last year’s France 2030 omnibus infrastructure bill. Among the 68 overall laureates are 12 animation studios, representing $19.3 million in subsidies, as well as 34 training programs, with half specializing in digital tools that encompass both animation and game design.

“Our aim is to grow both sides of the business,” says the CNC’s France 2030 project overseer Arnaud Roland. “We need to help our independent French production base by enabling those studios to move upmarket, and to expand our production services offerings extremely sought-after by streamers like Disney and Netflix.”

By way of R&D, many of the winning bids focus on real-time 3D rendering, as well as creating hybrid pipelines that encompass both 2D and CGI and finding new ways to integrate the question of artificial intelligence into the creative process. By way of training and international attractivity, other winning bids look to double the local workforce while significantly reducing the overall industry’s carbon footprint.

Attention is a foundation of this initiative. After the winning bids were announced at 2023’s Cannes Film Festival, Roland’s CNC team spent the better part of the year working with the winners to secure promised financing from the private sector before seguing to an oversight role making sure the grants fulfill their intended goals.

“We make sure what was promised in the application is actually carried out,” says Roland. “We verify improvements in tools and switches in technologies, asking for technical progress reports before releasing more funds. We want to make our studios more efficient, able to improve their creative processes, able expand their teams, and able to take on several big projects at once.”

By way of domestic production, the CNC recently recharged a selective financial aid designed to push forward aesthetic innovation. Now endowed with $4.3 million each year, the assistance with animation techniques helps local titles meet international standards, working in unison with other CNC supports to undergird French animation.

“All of the features in Annecy’s official selection have received this support,” says Roland. “So we’re really on a permanent dynamic. This is a grant devoted exclusively to animation, helping producers push to the next level of quality, and allowing them to create films and series that are calibrated for international release.”

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