In response to growing concerns about terrorist attacks, French officials have restricted productions from filming action sequences in Paris.
Filming in Paris currently requires a dual-permit application process, one from City Hall and the other from the Prefecture de Paris. Although both institutions are traditionally film-friendly, the new restrictions will prevent the Prefecture de Paris from issuing permits to productions looking to film action sequences within the city.
"There’s a problem with these action-type scenes, as the actors in uniform could be targets for terrorists," says police commander Sylvie Barnaud. In light of recent terrorist violence against police officers, French officials want to prevent any coincidental violence against actors dressed as law enforcement. Officials are also concerned that large action sequences featuring fake weaponry and pyrotechnics could confuse the public, and perhaps make them believe that another attack is underway.
UPDATE: Although numerous sources confirm that these restrictions are legitimate and are already affecting a wide range of productions, there is some debate as to whether they are as severe as has been reported. According to a blog post from the French publication Le Monde, the Prefecture de Paris has not banned action sequences outright, but instead is permitting productions on a case by case basis. So far, only four of the five productions with either action or police story elements looking to shoot in the public spaces of Paris have been denied a permit. Based on that, it's unlikely that filmmakers will receive permissions for certain types of scenes shot in public, but it's not impossible.
However, don't expect to see any high-octane scenes — like the following sequence from Lucy — featuring a Parisian backdrop any time in the near future.
Though French officials say that it is a temporary measure, it is unknown how long the restrictions will be in place.
So what does this mean for filmmakers? Well for starters, it's likely going to drive away a small subset of big-budget action flicks looking to take advantage of the historic city's aesthetic and the government's tax incentives. For everyone else looking to shoot in the streets and other public areas of Paris, these restrictions could very well force script revisions to remove problematic sequences that include police or firearms. In essence, the permitting process will be significantly more difficult for certain productions looking to use public space.