La Fabrique des Formats recently joined TV France as an associate member.

Founded in 2016, La Fabrique des Formats is a cluster dedicated to audiovisual and digital innovation within the formats sector. The company brings together a local and international market-watch offer, along with initial and professional training for students, and expertise in supporting formats producers and project owners.

La Fabrique des Formats also has a dedicated investment fund to finance the creation and development of innovative projects in the audiovisual formats sector for the French and international markets.

Philippe Chazal, Fabrique des Formats CEO, has been tasked by the government with taking stock of the French audiovisual and digital formats market compared to the international market, and recommending measures to help boost French formats.

Fiona Bélier, Deputy CEO of La Fabrique des Formats explains how it works and describes the future of the cluster.

The Interview

TV France: Fiona Bélier, could you start by telling us about the services La Fabrique des Formats offers as well as its targets?

Fiona Bélier

Fiona Bélier: La Fabrique des Formats supports creators and producers in the development of new formats, both live and stock, that are both innovative and appropriate for adaptation for international audiences. To do that, we have two main resources: a service company and a – mainly private – investment fund. The latter helps launch the creation and production of formats in France, both in terms of skills by helping professionals hone their craft, and also in terms of financing, by enabling producers to finance pilots or trailers for their concepts, which raises their visibility in the international market.

Remember that when it comes to live formats, very few funds are available that include this kind of creation in their support policies. So it was always very important for us to take into account both stock and live formats. In addition, R&D for audiovisual creation remains rather under-funded, even though it is a crucial step in the innovation process for formats. In terms of targets, through our various tools, La Fabrique des Formats aims to reach all formats professionals, in particular writers and producers, and also future generations.

TV France: What are the current trends in international formats production compared to the French ecosystem? How are French formats changing within that ecosystem?

Fiona Bélier: The production of formats at an international level is mainly concentrated within the big audiovisual groups that have production subsidiaries in several countries. And recent changes have reinforced the concentration of the sector. It can be explained by the economic reality of formats – the need to be duplicated and adapted. However, we have seen that the globalization of the content market has also resulted in the emergence of new territories capable of producing original formats and taking them to an international audience. The formats market therefore has two distinct axes: on the one hand, big formats (that are, for some, already old) that are very present and result in numerous spin-offs. And on the other, smaller-scale formats across fewer territories but which work well and are gaining traction. 

Several Made in France formats work well abroad – K7 Media has three (Fort Boyard, Vendredi tout est permis (Anything Goes Friday) and Guess my age) in the latest edition of its Tracking the giants report, which ranks the 100 IP that work best for export. The difficulty encountered by French-created formats (particularly live) in finding broadcasters within France doesn’t make it any easier for them to find exports.  However, the trend is mainly positive, and I think that French know-how – not just in fiction – is becoming more and more recognized and sought after. So it really is the right time to support these players and their creations. I also think that France has an asset in terms of other French-speaking countries and that co-production is a distinct possibility.

TV France: What financing methods need to be mobilized to support innovation and the production and exportation of formats, in your opinion?

Fiona Bélier: Several ideas are being explored at the moment, in particular within the formats mission and the Plan Formats led by Philippe Chazal. The Innovation Tax Credit is an interesting option for both stock and live formats. The “Companies for the Financing of the Cinematographic and Audiovisual Industry” group (Sociétés de financement de l’industrie cinématographique et de l’audiovisuel – SOFICAS) is well positioned to finance fiction and documentary formats. The SAJE also has an important role to play in supporting game-show authors and their creations.

In terms of production and exportation, we think it is important to support content and the companies that own it so that they can produce several seasons and co-ordinate international adaptations. On this point, the Institute for the Financing of the Cinema and Cultural Industries (Institut pour le financement du cinéma et des industries culturelles – IFCIC) and the Public Investment Bank (Banque banque publique d’investissement – BPI) are key players. Finally, since formats are intrinsically international, it seems crucial that we create links with international partners who are both valuable correspondents for the producers that La Fabrique supports, and also potential co-financers of programs.

TV France: “Training talents” seems to be an important part of your strategy – could you tell us more about that?

Fiona Bélier: Talent is what makes formats professionals stand out – whether they are authors, producers, set designers, cinematographers….They are ambassadors for content, both locally and abroad as they have the know-how and represent major soft power on the international market. Through “training talents”, we also spotlight our objective to train the professionals of tomorrow and, little by little, to create a shared formats culture. For example, game-show creators remain rare. The mission is therefore twofold: highlight established talent and find the talent of the future. That is what we hope to achieve with the “Game-show author” training program which we will be launching in June in partnership with the SAJE .

TV France: The assignment the government gave Philippe Chazal regarding audiovisual and digital formats is particularly innovative – why is this so particular in France? What motivated this monitoring project?

Fiona Bélier: The formats market is powerful internationally and offers real economic opportunities for producers and creators. The challenge is to create all the right conditions in France so that we can become a country of reference for formats in all genres and as a result play a role – both economic and cultural – on the international stage. Once again, that requires work both in terms of financing and training.  

TV France: TV France and La Fabrique des Formats are planning to partner up for ScreenFormat, a digital market dedicated to formats programs. What message do you wish to send to formats exporters about this opportunity?

Fiona Bélier: We are delighted by this showcase for French-made formats! It shows that the sector is dynamic and offers business opportunities. Apart from MIPFormats, there are very few professional markets that focus on formats, so we invite exporters to seize the opportunity to highlight great French brands capable of exporting to multiple territories, including influential markets like the US and UK.