Occitanie Accelerates the Audiovisual Sector to Attract More Film Productions

  • 2023-10-17
The Yard is in the Press ! French newspaper, Le Journal des Entreprises, has published an article about the film and audiovisual industry in the Occitanie region. It discusses the local development of the sector, which aims to attract more film productions and become a national reference.

French newspaper, Le Journal des Entreprises, has recently published an article on the state of the cinema and audiovisual industry in the Occitanie region (in the south of France).

The article discusses the ambitious « La Grande Fabrique de l’Image » project, launched in 2021 by the French government as part of the France 2030 plan. The project aims to double the filming capacity in France and highlights the regional ecosystem of the film and audiovisual industry.

The Occitanie region, particularly Montpellier city, stands out in this endeavor. Eleven out of the 68 announced winners are based in Occitanie, receiving 51 million euros in grants in addition to project-related investments. The region already held a national record for filming with 3,000 shooting days annually, and it plans to do even better in the future, expanding its studio space and aiming for 13,000 jobs in the audiovisual sector.

Already well-equipped with creative talents, schools, and service providers for the film and audiovisual industry, Occitanie is increasing its efforts in terms of production infrastructure. In Montpellier, a flagship city in this new momentum, the sector is becoming a full-fledged economic powerhouse.

Montpellier benefits from three key advantages: a collaborative approach between the Region, the Metropolis, and neighboring intermunicipalities, a significant capacity to attract project leaders, and the potential of a comprehensive ecosystem, including schools, studios, and the digital sector.

Michael DelafossePresident of Montpellier Mediterranee Metropole

Pics Studio aims very high

One of the key local players in filming facilities is France TV Studio, a subsidiary of France Télévisions. The organization made significant investments in Montpellier to expand its audiovisual production infrastructure. In 2018, they inaugurated studios in Vendargues, investing over 20 million euros in five years to create a 16,000 m2 production facility, including 4,000 m2 for filming. They’ve added two more studios in 2022 and have various supporting services like set construction, painting, and post-production on-site.

Another massive project under the France 2030 plan, known as Pics Studio, stands out. Spearheaded by two Montpellier locals, urban developer GGL and promoter Spag, this cinematic production complex will span three municipalities in the metropolis. In Saint-Gély-du-Fesc, approximately 43,000 square meters of floor space will be utilized. The first site will host eight filming studios, post-production facilities, and a training campus. The second site will be dedicated to 200 student accommodations. In Pérols, a 7-hectare industrial site will be repurposed to accommodate dressing rooms and 12 to 14 specialized studios. In Fabrègues, a housing offering of 125 eco-lodges will be constructed for professionals and producers. The entire operation, slated for completion in 2025, requires a budget of 185 million euros, entirely from private funding.

Pics Studio has also developed its own ecosystem by incorporating animation and special effects studios (such as The Yard), a film school (Montpellier’s Artfx), as well as dubbing, audio post-production, and lighting companies. To steer this flagship project, GGL and Spag have enlisted seasoned professionals like Benoit Jaubert (producer for John Woo, Spike Lee, Mathieu Kassovitz, etc.) and Véronique Cuilhé (with 20 years of experience with directors like Nicole Garcia and Jacques Rivette).

We have the perspective of urban planners. Our historical profession is to consider facilities, access... Thus, we have designed Pics Studio as an audiovisual factory. It's a hub for the entire local industry, following an open model, with numerous services available for film production.

Alain GuiraudonAssociate Director of GGL

A wave of local investment

For Hind Emad, Vice President of the Metropolis, responsible for the economy, the scale of the selected projects proves that after many years of support, the audiovisual ecosystem is reaching a new milestone.

The efforts made by local stakeholders do not go unnoticed by external investors. The Paris-based special effects studio, The Yard VFX, initially contemplating Marseille, was convinced by the vision of Pics Studio. It has opened a 10-person office in Montpellier as part of its successful propoal for the France 2030 project call. (NDLR : read the announcement of the opening of The Yard in Montpellier here).

Mathematic, another special effects producer from Paris, has leased 350 square meters at the Cité créative and plans to grow to 150 employees over four years. France TV Studio, in addition to expanding its infrastructure, has invested in local studios like Les Tontons Truqueurs, who are working on innovative virtual production technology. France TV Studio also acquired the studio Dwarf Animation, known for producing content for Netflix and Disney+.

Laurens Ehrmann, fondateur et CEO de The Yard, présent à la conférence de presse de la Mairie de Montpellier, avec les lauréats de France 2030.
Laurens Ehrmann during the press conference given by Montpellier City Council, with Mayor Michaël DELAFOSSE, his teams and the winners of the "La Grande Fabrique de l'Image" France 2030 call for projects at Mo.Co. Credits: CH.Ruiz/Montpellier3M

The necessary regional structuring

Furthermore, the Montpellier Metropolis will establish its economic agency in the fall, working closely with neighboring Agglos such as Sète and Agde. The cultural and creative industries will be a significant focus for this agency. Sète, with its tradition of film and audiovisual production, has developed an economic hub that encompasses audiovisual, music, and literary and phonographic publishing. The area’s appeal for these productions lies in its abundant sunshine, but also its pool of local technical expertise, which is essential for the success of these projects.

As these initiatives continue to flourish, local stakeholders are striving to better coordinate their efforts. The Montpellier Metropolis is working on a new image and branding strategy focused on the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) and the audiovisual sector. On a regional scale, the Occitanie Region has submitted a proposal as part of the France 2030 initiative for the creation of a future territorial hub for the CCIs, developed in collaboration with a consortium of private partners specializing in sound and image. The Occitanie Region is already investing €5 million annually in the audiovisual sector.

I want to make our region a reference for hosting national and international productions.

Carole DelgaPresident of the Occitanie region

In conclusion, Montpellier is emerging as a hub for the audiovisual and film production industry, with a strong collaborative approach, expanding infrastructure, and investments from both local and external stakeholders. Public local organizations, from the city to the regional level, are prioritizing the cinema and audiovisual sector in the Occitanie region. And The Yard is very proud to actively contribute to its development.


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