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A Tale of Two Cities: the producers reflect

Date posted: 26.11.2014

Last week, Film London and Ile de France Film Commission sent 12 producers – six from London and six from Paris – on a television drama co-production trip. Named A Tale of Two Cities, the event spans six days and two countries, as well as a cross-channel business session aboard the Eurostar.

The concept

Helena MacKenzie, Head of Inward Investment & Business Development at Film London, explains the thinking behind the project. "It came about as there appeared to be a genuine desire for a more collaborative way for London and Paris producers to work together, especially given the advent of the new high end television drama tax credit. There has always been a cultural link between the two cities, and with the Eurostar celebrating 20 years of providing a fast physical link, we felt the time was right to put together the first television drama exchange programme for London and Paris producers."

During the producers' time in Paris, they were taken on a tour of some of the city's most sought-after filming locations, including the opulent surroundings of Louis XIV's Chateau de Versailles, the Musee d'Orsay and Luc Besson's studio complex Cité du Cinéma. Following a cross-channel networking trip on the Eurostar, the delegation arrived in London, where they were treated to a tour of London's filming hotspots including Inner and Middle Temple, Somerset House, lunch at The View from the Shard as well as accreditation to Content London, a two day TV networking event from C21.

Word from the producers

We're glad to report that A Tale of Two Cities was a resounding success, and the reactions from the participating producers have been glowing.

London-based producer Kate Sinclair attended A Tale of Two Cities with a period drama series based on the events of the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre in 1570s Paris. "It's a brilliant new initiative," she said. "We had some very inspiring conversations about how to invent new funds and ways to collaborate going forward.  It was incredible to see Luc Besson's visionary studios, school and film facilities which were truly 'wowing'. The private tour of Versailles, including the bits no one else gets to see, as well as the Musee D'Orsay were incredible. Finally, Content London was a superb event bringing producers from all over the world together. A truly amazing and useful week."

These sentiments were echoed by French producer Christine de Bourbon Busset: "When I heard that A Tale of Two Cites would allow us to meet English partners, the timing was perfect. [Our project] Cheyenne and Lola has a real organic potential for co-production. Pitching our series in the Eurostar was a clever start in the genesis of a co-production between the two countries. Film London hosted us as royal guests and introduced us to some of England's foremost producers. Thanks to Film London and Ile de France film commission, I am sure this event will be the starting point for ambitious and successful cross-channel co-productions."

"This trip has been a fruitful, interesting and pleasurable experience," adds Paris-based producer Lauranne Bouracchot. "It was also a kind of time travel, which allowed me to discover London landscapes and places I'd never been to, from the Temples' beautiful libraries and rooms to the Shard! The small group of high-profile UK producers we were lucky enough to spend time with brought super interesting projects and I have no doubt good things will come out of these meetings and be on air in the near future. I definitely think British and French people have a card to play in the industry by joining forces on high-end drama and create original European content that can travel."

French producer Aurélie Meimon, who attended with her project Haute Couture, concludes: "It was a great occasion to share the millions of cultural things we have in common, and to realise we have so much to do together"

The Eurostar meeting proved particularly popular, and it had a direct effect on attending producer Marie Dours' project Guts and Glory: "we were able to deepen contacts [on that journey]. As a result, we are already planning a meeting in London with one of them in two weeks".

To borrow a phrase from Dickens himself, it looks like A Tale of Two Cities may well have been the best of times.

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