In total, 1,323 investment decisions by foreign companies were recorded in France in 2018 – a record level for the past 11 years.
Much of this foreign investment comes from America – 18 per cent of all new business investment in France is by American companies and much of it is in research and development. For example, Uber has just set up its first research centre outside North America in Paris to develop artificial intelligence systems.
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Cast and crew at the premiere of Netflix series “Plan Coeur” in Paris, December 2018.
The second to invest are the Germans. The rising star, though, is the United Kingdom, who are now in third place after overtaking Italy. Most of the UK's investment in 2018 was in the financial sector.
And the latest big US name to establish itself in France is Netflix, which is preparing to open its Paris office and is also keen to develop a lot more original French content.
Speaking with The Local, a Netflix representative confirmed they “will open an office in Paris this year, probably after summer. This will mean that some people from the teams that are currently based in Amsterdam (our European HQ), will move there”.
French audiences have already taken to Netflix and it is now the fastest growing market for the streaming service, currently with more than 5 million subscribers locally, and Netflix has nearly 20 French original shows in the pipeline.
So far, it has delivered a number of films, including “Je ne suis pas un homme facile” (I am not an Easy Man) and “Paris est à Nous” (Paris is Us), and three series: political drama “Marseille,” with Gerard Depardieu; romantic comedy “Plan Coeur” (The Hook Up Plan); and the science-fiction series “Osmosis,” which competed at Series Mania in Lille, France, in March.
Making these shows in France hasn’t been easy for Netflix.
French broadcasters traditionally enjoy a lengthy production process, often taking years just to greenlight a series. But Netflix’s method is short and sweet, they have very tight development and production schedules, series can get off the ground in just a year.
The streaming service’s goal is to “have series go into production within 12 to 18 months after it’s been commissioned from a pitch,” said Damien Couvreur, director of international originals for France, speaking with Variety magazine. This is two to three times faster than the process of a TV channel in France. He added that Netflix “can commission and greenlight a show from just a 10-page document.”One of the challenges in France is to get writers to work collectively on series rather than on their own as is more customary here. Netflix’s fast-paced model is pushing writers to be more involved. “It’s a transition. The writer’s job is no longer to just deliver a script; they become a creator who has creative control and input over all the process of the series,” said Couvreur.
Unlike in the UK, where it’s making shows with big-name talent, Netflix in France has focused on tightly budgeted, culturally grounded series showcasing a lot of newcomers and minority cast which skew to younger demos. Of the three new documentaries Netflix announced at Series Mania, one centres on the French rapper Gims, and another looks at Nicolas Anelka, the controversial former soccer prodigy.
Netflix is also aiming to ramp up its original French movies. But, unlike with their series, Netflix will not be involved in developing films, and is positioning itself instead as a co-producer. It plans to work alongside traditional partners and TV networks to access locally-made content.
Setting up in France has been the game-changer. “We used to be based in L.A., working in a different time zone. People had to pitch in English,” Couvreur said. “Years later, we’re in Paris, taking meetings in person, speaking in French. And we have seven or eight people working on acquisitions in France.”