Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

France’s CNC: Centre National du Cinema et de l’Image Animee. 700+ Mn Euros for Cinema & Television. How Much for Docs?

France’s Centre National du Cinema et de l’Image Animee (CNC) is a powerful force in the French video and cinema industry.

The CNC disburses the tax receipts that are levied on the industry to producers and other contributors to the value chain.

It is a pillar of France’s stable cadre of documentary and nonfiction television producers, and drives co-productions, but is unappreciated outside the country.


At Le Rendez-Vous in Biarritz, I met with Benoit Danard, CNC’s director of research, who kindly shared the highlights of his program. I will update this post based on future conversations with Benoit.

Sources of Funds

The CNC disburses taxes on the turnover of the French Audio-Visual industry at the following rates:

  • Cinema: 11%
  • IPs: 4.5%
  • Channels: 4.5%
  • DVD: 2.0%

The total annual ‘pie’ therefore fluctuates depending on France’s economic condition.

  • The 2014 pool of 700 Mn Euros is down 10%+/- since 2013.
  • And an efficient 4.8% of the collections is expended on CNC admin, including project evaluations.


  • The Cinema sector receives 50% of the payout.
  • The category covers theater ops as well as Production & Distribution.
  • The category may include funding for theatrical and giant screen / IMAX docs.
  • The CNC also supports the Cannes Film Festival, Sunnyside,  Rendez-Vous, and other marketing events and efforts.



  • Documentary producers received 16% of the disbursements.
  • That’s around 112 Mn Euros in 2014.
  • With Animation, Live Concert recordings and ‘Other’ including Cultural Magazines, rounding out the pie.

Hours Funded

  • With their lower cost/hour, Documentaries comprise a majority of the projects funded, or more than 3,000 in 2013.


Doc Categories

According to Benoit Danard, the Documentary category is dominated by the broad ‘Society’ genre (51% of the 110Mn Euros of disbursements).

Other genres include:

  • History (9%),
  • Geography/Travel (8%),
  • Environment (7%),
  • Sports (5%)
  • Arts (4%)
  • Cuisine (2%)

Science is only 1.4%, but the genre will be significantly expanded because of its exportability.

CNC funding is important to most documentaries commissioned for ARTE France, and via co-pro’s and pre-sales to channels outside France, to the European nonfiction sector.


  • Automatic
    A producer who renews a previous relationship with a broadcaster triggers automatic funding.
  • Selective
    There is a complex set of criteria to evaluate new producers.


  • There are multiple submission dates with rolling announcements.
  • The review process is 3-6 months.
  • A team of ‘5-10 documentary specialists’ reviews submissions.

Contributions to Budget

  • “Less than half the total budget of the project.”
  • Support is for the French producer only in co-pro’s.

The Conservative Tide

  • I asked Benoit if the tide that is running against tax-payer funding of television in many Western countries was a threat to the CNC program.
  • He responded that there is no challenge within the French political landscape to the current system.


  • Here is the CNC’s website in English and French.
  • And we will add detail and complexity to this post over time.


Upcoming Conferences

  • MIPCOM, Cannes
  • DISCOP, Joburg
  • WCSFP, Hong Kong
  • Realscreen 2015, Washington DC


  1. A good clear summary – the ‘society’ genre is very broad, and includes ‘Motorway Cops’ types of daily/weekly series, which causes some consternation amongst doc producers. Also, docs in the Science category have since earlier this year been eligible for a 20% uplift on the funding they would ordinarily receive, to promote the genre. The decision-making timescales are what makes it most difficult as a funding source though – producers often embark on production without knowing when or at what level they will be funded.

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