Insight

Leveraging French Tax Subsidies in Film Composition

For composers hoping to work on French films, the state subsidy system and tax advantages offer a point of leverage in the notoriously tough industry.

French Film Tax Subsidies for Composers
Annabelle Gauberti

Annabelle Gauberti

June 20, 2019 02:51 PM

In the previous installment, we looked at the obstacles facing composers attempting to break into the French film industry. Now, we will discuss the ways in which the French state subsidy system could offer composers financial leverage.

There are a number of tax advantages available to film productions working with a French cast and crew. Below, we will look through the requirements composers should meet to maximize their value in the highly competitive film industry.

TRIP Cultural Test

Recall the Tax Rebate for International Productions (TRIP), a tax rebate which applies to projects wholly or partly made in France. To benefit from TRIP, composers must fulfill the criteria to pass a cultural test.

The document entitled “9. Grille de critères de sélection pour une oeuvre de fiction” sets out that, in order to be eligible, a project must obtain at least 18 points. Criteria n. 10, on page 2, sets out that at least one of the music composers must be:

  • a French citizen;
  • a citizen of a European country (that includes all citizens of EU member-states); or
  • a French resident,
  • for the film project to score 1 point out of the 18 points necessary for eligibility.

Therefore, film music composers who are really serious about getting into the French film sector must meet one of the above criteria, to secure this 1 point for the TRIP’s cultural test, which is the maximum amount of points even a French citizen music composer could ever contribute towards the film project.

Navigating Co-Productions

European co-productions can benefit from France’s film financing system, notably the French selective schemes, such as:

  • CICA, the automatic support for the French producer and distributor from French TV channels and Free-to-air networks (as Canal +, TF1, France Televisions, ARTE and M6 must invest a percentage of their annual revenues on French and European Films);
  • automatic subsidies referred to in French as “compte de soutien” or “soutien automatique”, where each qualifying movie producer or distributor receives automatic subsidies in proportion to the film’s success at the French box office, and also in video stores (a percentage of DVD Blu-ray sales revenues) and in TV sales (a percentage of broadcasting rights sales);
  • French regional funds; and
  • Sofica funds (private equity).

To qualify into the French tax credit and subsidies system, as an official co-production, the French co-producer will submit the project to the CNC.

The CNC is responsible for assessing applications for qualifications of a feature film. Two scales are used to determine whether it is European enough and whether it is French enough (European scale and French scale). Films must score enough points on both scales; when the co-production is made within the framework of a bilateral treaty, the citizens of the other country qualify as European. On this note, France has entered into bilateral co-production agreements with many countries.

Film music composers must, therefore, check whether employing them as a music composer on the film co-production would allow the project to get some points on the French and European scales above-mentioned.

Under the European scale, it is necessary for the authors (including the music composer), primary actors, technicians and collaborators to the creation of the film be:

  • French citizens;
  • Citizens from a EU member-state;
  • Citizens from the country with which France has a bilateral co-production agreement in place; or
  • Residents in France, in another EU member-state.

Therefore, film music composers who are serious about getting their foot in the door must meet at least one of the criteria above. If they do, and out of the 18 points in the European scale, they will provide 1 point as a qualifying music composer in the European official co-production.

Under the French scale (“barème du soutien financier”), it is necessary for the project to score 100 points; except for the notable cases of Franco-Spanish, Franco-Italian, and Franco-British co-productions, which do not have to comply with any minimum number of points to be eligible for financial support.

Music composers can bring up to 1 point on this French scale for fiction films, and up to 5 points for a documentary.

In order to obtain those points under the French scale, it is necessary that the assignment agreements of the copyright, as well as the employment agreement of the film director, be governed by French law.

Therefore, film music composers will qualify under the French scale for financial support of the official European co-production, if the assignment agreement of copyright on the songs and tracks that they write and produce is governed by French law.

From a business standpoint, and in order to bolster the chances of getting the tax credit CICA, it is really worth highlighting and playing up any TV experience and clout that a film music composer may have. This should appeal to any French film producer, since they face a lot of competition from other French film producers, in order to get the best tax credit support from French TV channels, when pitching their film projects to them.

French Regional Funds

As mentioned above, European official co-productions, but also—of course—French film productions, can benefit from the support and subsidies of French regional funds, such as:

  • Fonds images de la francophonie;
  • CNC support for creation of original music/score;
  • Ile de France Authority Cinema and audiovisual support, and after shooting support; and
  • Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur Creation and production film fund, documentary support (all stages) and animation support.

There is no points system in place, for any of these four French regional funds. However, Ile de France Authority Cinema and audiovisual support and Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur Creation and production film fund, documentary support (all stages), animation support, do have a cultural test in place.

How Can Composers Benefit?

As far as film music composers are concerned, the only requirement under these two cultural tests is that the film music composer would enter into the French language, French law-governed agreement, relating to the transfer of his/her copyright in the film soundtrack, to the France-based film production company. Film music composers do not need to have French citizenship, or be a French resident, to contribute towards the film project successfully passing the cultural test of either of these two French regional funds.

Therefore, the best way film music composers can ensure that their contributions to the film project will be weighting in a positive manner towards securing regional funding for the film production, is by having a polished and up-to-date CV listing all their musical compositions, awards and achievements, a catalogue of their best artistic work in good order, both online (SoundCloud, Spotify, Deezer, etc.) and on CDs; and by contributing with the film director and producer in compiling the information and necessary data for each regional funding submissions.

For example, for the submission to the CNC Support for creation of original music or score (“aides à la création de musiques originales”), film music composers merely have to work with the film director and producer to ensure that they provide together all the deliverables required by the special commission of the CNC, such as the “note d’intention”, their respective CVs, and the CDs, and DVDs requested.

The CNC, Ile de France Authority and Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur Authority, each request film music composers to enter into the French language, French law-governed agreement, relating to the assignment of copyright on the film soundtrack, with the French film production company.

The Takeaway

To conclude, film music composers need to perfectly master the intricacies of the French soft funding system, and therefore skillfully demonstrate to French film producers and directors that, not only do they bring all possible qualifying points in any cultural tests put in place by the French film authorities, but also that they are willing to assign their copyright in their musical compositions and tracks’ masters, to the French film production company, under a French language, French law-governed assignment agreement.

To hit the ground running, and facilitate the work of any French film producers, film music composers should already be registered as members of French copyright collecting society SACEM, and French neighboring rights collecting societies ADAMI and/or SPEDIDAM, if applicable.

Another major bonus would be for film music composers to already be registered with the French Centre des impôts des non-résidents, Inspection TVA, which is responsible for VAT registration of non-resident tax payers, and open a French VAT account. That way, if film music composers are paid service fees and/or a “prime de commande” by the French film production company, they can set out their VAT intra-community number, as well as the French production company’s VAT intra-community number, on their invoices.

Finally, since royalties, commissions, consultancy fees and fees for services performed or used in France, which are paid to a non-resident (either a company or an individual), are subject to a domestic 33.33% withholding tax, film music composers need to check whether any double-taxation treaty may be in place, between the country in which they are tax-resident, and France, which would provide full or partial relief of withholding tax on such income sources generated in France.

Be bold, do your homework, and your musical passion, skills and enthusiasm should become a great asset to any French film project and production!

-------------

Ms. Gauberti is a solicitor of England and Wales, as well as an “avocat à la Cour”, French-qualified lawyer, who focuses her practice on providing legal services, on either contentious or non-contentious matters, to companies and individuals working in the creative industries in general, and the luxury goods, fashion, music, motion picture, television, Internet, multimedia sectors in particular.

Related Articles

Announcing The Best Lawyers in France™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from France.

Blue, white and red strips

French Court Relies On an Untraditional Colleague


by Rebecca Blackwell

A rural court in France is helping victims face their assailants with a surprising emotional support companion.

French Court's Untraditional Colleague

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in France


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms, including our inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recipients.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in France

Paying the Price in P.R.


by Best Lawyers

Isis Carballo-Irigoyen discusses discuss intergovernmental relations, opportunity zones, and why a move to Puerto Rico to ease your tax burden likely won’t be as simple as you might think.

An Interview With McConnell Valdés

It’s a Gas, Gas, Gas


by Best Lawyers

Michael Polkinghorne discusses why arbitration or mediation is a better option.

An Interview With White & Case LLP

How Corporate Law in France Is Navigating the Trade Wars


by Best Lawyers

Bertrand Cardi and Cyril Bonan discuss M&A, protectionism, and the trade wars' impact in France.

An Interview With Darrois Villey Maillot Broc

An Interview With Bougartchev Moyne Associés


by Best Lawyers

France’s 2020 “Law Firm of the Year” honoree in Criminal Defense Law

An Interview With Bougartchev Moyne Associés

Baraona Fischer & Cia on the Changes Coming to Tax Law in Chile


by Best Lawyers

Juan Manuel Baraona of the 2019 "Law Firm of the Year" award-winner for Tax Law in Chile discusses forthcoming regulations, career highlights, and his secrets to success in an interview with Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer.

Baraona Fischer & Cia LFOTY

Here Are Gide's Predictions on the Biggest Trends in Real Estate


by Best Lawyers

Winner of the 2019 "Law Firm of the Year" award for Real Estate Law in France, Hugues Moreau of Gide talks global capital and market changes.

Gide 2019 "Law Firm of the Year" Interview

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some


by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

A Master in Defending the Accused


by Best Lawyers

The relentless pursuit of justice when everything is on the line.

Patrick A. Mullin

U.S. Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement


by Violaine du Pontavice

What will be the future for the world’s climate issue?

U.S. Withdrawal Paris Agreement

Jerry Glover, Chicago, IL “Lawyer of the Year” for Entertainment Law – Motion Pictures and Television


by Tess Congo

Q&A with Jerry Glover of Leavens, Strand, & Glover discussing his achievements in entertainment law.

Jerry Glover "LOTY"

Brexit


by Charles Cardon, Carmen Maria Mozun Munoz, Tiago Ferriera de Lemos, and Lia de Pessoa Negrao

Attorneys from France, Spain, and Portugal weigh in on the effects that Brexit may have on their respective countries.

Brexit

Trending Articles

The Real Camille: An Interview with Johnny Depp’s Lawyer Camille Vasquez


by Rebecca Blackwell

Camille Vasquez, a young lawyer at Brown Rudnick, sat down with Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer to talk about her distinguished career, recently being named partner and what comes next for her.

Camille Vasquez in office

Announcing The Best Lawyers in The United Kingdom™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from the United Kingdom.

The Best Lawyers in The United Kingdom 2023

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: The Best Lawyers Honorees Behind the Litigation


by Gregory Sirico

Best Lawyers takes a look at the recognized legal talent representing Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in their ongoing defamation trial.

Lawyers for Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Announcing The Best Lawyers in France™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from France.

Blue, white and red strips

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Germany™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Germany.

Black, red and yellow stripes

Education by Trial: Cultivating Legal Expertise in the Courtroom


by Margo Pierce

The intricacies of complex lawsuits require extensive knowledge of the legal precedent. But they also demand a high level of skill in every discipline needed to succeed at trial, such as analyzing technical reports and deposing expert witnesses.

Cultivating Legal Expertise in the Courtroom

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Belgium™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Belgium.

Black, yellow and red stripes

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in France


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms, including our inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recipients.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in France

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect


by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

We Are Women, We Are Fearless


by Deborah S. Chang and Justin Smulison

Athea Trial Lawyers is a female owned and operated law firm specializing in civil litigation, catastrophic energy, wrongful death and product liability.

Athea Trial Law Female Leadership and Success

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Germany


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms, including our inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recipients.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Germany

U.K. Introduces Revisions to Right-to-Work Scheme and Immigration Rules


by Gregory Sirico

Right-to-Work Scheme and Immigration Rules in

Destiny Fulfilled


by Sara Collin

Was Angela Reddock-Wright destined to become a lawyer? It sure seems that way. Yet her path was circuitous. This accomplished employment attorney, turned mediator, arbitrator and ADR specialist nonpareil discusses her career, the role of attorneys in society, the new world of post-pandemic work and why new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson represents the future.

Interview with Lawyer Angela Reddock-Wright

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some


by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom


by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?