La Fémis called to evolve its training model

The legendary French film school, Fémis (Ecole nationale supérieure des professions de l’image et du son), the one which trained Arnaud Desplechin, François Ozon or, more recently, Céline Sciamma and Rebecca Zlotowski, is the subject of a critical report from the Court of Auditors, made public Friday March 1 . The magistrates focused on this institution which prepares for seven different professions (production, screenplay, direction, image, sound, decor and editing) by analyzing its evolution since 2016.

First observation, the model of “initial training of excellence (…) struggles to adapt to the challenges of the sector” . The Court notes however “that despite the self-image which it sometimes struggles to get rid of, the school’s recruitment is open and it has been able to develop new programs in terms of equal opportunities” . Of the 1,054 candidates on average who appear in the first round of the competition, 171 are recruited in the first year – including 41 in direction and 34 in screenplay. Schooling focused on practice, teamwork and the educational model supported by professional speakers makes it possible to create united promotions.

“Tense financial situation”

The Court nevertheless underlines the very high cost of this training for the State – close to 50,000 euros per year per student. The latter only pays 438 euros to the school. According to this report, Fémis would benefit from “putting in place personalized monitoring and support mechanisms to accelerate the professional integration” of students. Another criticism is that the school, directed by Nathalie Coste-Cerdan and of which Michel Hazanavicius chairs the board of directors, remains too little integrated “in research networks” and should develop its international visibility.

The Court also deplores “a tense financial situation due to a strong dependence on the National Center for Cinema and Animated Images (CNC) and the incompressibility of most of its expenses” . With an operating budget of around 12 million euros – three-quarters financed by the CNC – the school remains “almost constantly in deficit” . However, the levers for action in terms of reducing expenditure or increasing own resources are so limited that the school is unable to finance its investments. According to the authors, “the absence of budgetary and financial visibility is a major and critical problem” , which locks Fémis into a logic of “short-sighted annual management” .

The report also notes “administrative and financial management weakened by an undersized team and deficient internal control” . The real estate strategy also raises many questions. “Despite the large surface area of the building, the school remains faced with a permanent lack of space,” underlines this report. Hence the need to quickly consider either the creation of new surfaces or an expansion beyond the walls.

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