For the fourth year in a row, the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC) has conducted an extensive study on short film in France. Published in February 2014, the study examines all aspects of the production and distribution of short films and delivers detailed data from the reporting period, 2012, as well as information on the films and the people involved in their making. In the following, we briefly summarize the most important and most interesting findings.
Study criteria – special features of the French short
In the French film promotion system, any film up to 60 minutes in length is regarded as a short film. The study examined only films granted a (visa d’exploitation), a public screening release, accounting for about 600 films in 2012. Detailed data is available however only for the 401 visa-holding films that were also “Candidats au prix de qualité” or which received production funding from the CNC.
Characteristics of short film production
75.8% of the films in the study were fiction films, 9.7% animated films, 8.7% documentaries and 5.7% experimental films. The average length was 21 minutes – except for the documentaries, which were an average of 38 minutes long.
45% of the directors were between 30 and 40 years old – and only 5.6% were older than 50. Men directed 315 of the 401 films. 50.7% of those made in France were shot on the Ile-de-France, i.e. in the Paris metropolitan area.
Production costs and financing
The average production costs came to €72,300. The majority of the films (66%) were produced for less than € 100,000. Documentaries and experimental films cost the least, and animated films on average the most.
The CNC supported 248 short films in 2012, spending a total of € 6.96 million. CNC funding covered 28.8% of the respective production costs for fiction films and only 15.7% of the costs for experimental films. Adding up all types of CNC funding (production, sales, screening), 71% of the funds went to fiction films.
Compared to the prior year, CNC’s share in the financing rose by 6.7% for films with a budget under €100,000 and more than 40% for films that cost more than €100,000 to make. Public funding thus favoured higher-budget films. This was offset by a significantly higher proportion of private funding for films that cost under €100,000.
Overall, 30.5% of financing was provided by producers and 27.5% by a grant from the CNC. In addition, regional grants made up for 16.5% of funding and television stations participated with 9%.
In 2012, 1,653 short films were shown at French cinemas, of which almost 60% were French and 22% from other European countries. Most of the films (1,412) came to the big screen as part of short-film programmes. 389 films were shown only as supporting films leading in to the main feature.
Nearly 80% of all 2,000 cinemas (approx. 5,500 screens) showed short films. Most short films (approx. 900) were shown at single-screen cinemas. But 84% of all multiplex cinemas (12 or more screens) also showed short films (80 films).
The number of tickets sold for screenings including short films rose compared to the prior year by 54.6% to 3.7 million. This increase was due mainly to four top-grossing feature films with supporting films. Programmes showing exclusively short films sold 1.96 million tickets.
70% of the films had fewer than 500 viewers, while a top group of 5.7% attracted more than 10,000 viewers.
A substantial share of the tickets sold can be attributed to the promotion programme “L’aide à la Distribution Jeune Public”. The seven short-film programmes that received these sales promotion funds for films for a juvenile audience accounted for approx. 381,000 tickets, representing 19.4% of all tickets sold for short-film programmes (not including supporting films).
Like in other countries, shorter short films found their way more often into French cinemas. Around 65% were less than 20 minutes long and roughly 32% less than 10 minutes.
Short films on television
In 2012, 214 short films (including medium-length films) were shown on ARTE and Canal+. France 2 and France 3 included 70, respectively 59, short films in their programming. No figures are available for broadcasts on other channels, in particular by private television stations.
502 French short films were sold abroad in 2012. Most of them (62.6%) were fiction films, while experimental films made up the smallest share (1.2%). The largest importer by far was Spain (11.2%), followed by Belgium and Russia (4.8% and 4.5%). German-speaking countries accounted for 3.1% of sales.
The highest revenues were achieved by the almost hour-long documentary “Chats perchés” (Chris Marker, 2003), followed by the fiction short “Les filles du samedi” (Emilie Cherpitel, 2011), the animated film “Babioles” (Matray, 2010) and the fiction film “Le Cri du homard” (Nicolas Guiot, 30 min, 2012).
The best-sellers were “Le Monstre de Nix” by Rosto, “Pixels” by Patrick Jean, “Tram” by Michaela Pavlatova and “Logorama” by H5 – all animated films!
Publication series: “les études du CNC”
Title: “le court métrage en 2012 – production et diffusion”
Publisher: Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, February 2014
The full text comprises 136 pages and can be downloaded in PDF format.