French studios continue to work despite strikes

"Not everything shooting in France is involved with America."

By Gabriella Geisinger 31 Jul 2023

French studios continue to work despite strikes
Emily in Paris; Cr: Netflix

Despite a handful of productions halting due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strikes, many studios in France continue to work.

Provence Studios, based in Martigues in the South of France, has had several of its major US-led projects placed on stand-by due to the strikes. However, the 22-acre location has adapted to the strikes by hosting French productions through the summer.

The studios’ founder and president Olivier Marchetti told our sister site Screen: "We’re being vigilant, but the American market is very important for us so we’re waiting for decisions to be made about how to move forward."

Still, as US studio productions represent around 50% of Provence Studios' production volume, Ii the strikes linger their bottom line would be affected. 

Executive producer John Bernard of Jake Productions said. "We’re just carrying on with a different set of requirements around us."

He added: "Our position is very simple. We are continuing to shoot. We’re filmmakers: we get given a new set of problems and we find ways of making things work."

Despite the international impacts of the strikes, France has managed to continue conducting business as usual, for now. Barnard said: "Among the five projects I’m working on now, three are continuing on schedule."

"Not everything shooting in France is involved with America – there’s a lot of British television, and none of it has to do with SAG-AFTRA and the WGA."

Another example is John Woo's remake of his own seminal film The Killer for Universal, starring Omar Sy and Nathalie Emmanuel, premiering on Peacock. The film is continuing without its actors for now, instead working on exterior shots and physical stunt scenes in Paris.

In the long term, however, things may prove more complicated. 

Emily In Paris, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon and Etoile’s on-the-ground French producer Raphael Benoliel of Firstep told Screen that it will be "problematic" if the strike lasts for six months and projects can’t be completed before the Olympics.

Much of the summer 2024 production schedule (June through Septembed) in Paris will be used by the summer Olympic Games, which are being hosted in Paris from July 26-August 11. Certain areas in Paris will be unavailable from as early as March. 

For example, Seine-Saint-Denis, home to the Studios de Paris where Emily In Paris and Murder Mystery 2 have filmed, will be closed to productions from June-October 2024, and The Chateau de Versailles will also be closed to filming throughout the summer. 

CNC-run Film France says that "standard" projects can shoot between March and June and in September and October, and has identified nearly two dozen locations within the region that resemble Paris for Eiffel Tower views or other French cities like Amiens, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Lille, Lyon, Montpellier, Reims, Rennes or Toulon which offer Haussmannian buildings and Parisian-style streets, cafés or markets. 

TSF Studios is building a backlot in Coulommiers at a former aerodrome that will include more than 700 metres of Parisian-style streets ready for shooting.

Practically, though, foreign productions need approval will struggle to find accommodation for film crews and face a scarcity of talent in the months leading up to the Olympics.

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