At The Former Éclair Laboratory

The Former Éclair Film Laboratory

Over the course of the last century, the Éclair film laboratory – established in Épinay-sur-Seine in 1907 – developed, printed, and created effects for the majority of films shot on celluloid for the French market.

In 2015, after suffering the effects of the transition to digital, this industrial complex spanning 10 acres was closed.

Located only 30 minutes away from the center of Paris via public transportation, the former Éclair film laboratory is currently being transformed into a vast cultural district by the city of Epinay-sur-Seine which bought the land in 2018.

Starting in 2023, this lively new part of the city will bring together more than a hundred artist studios and workshops, a community-run restaurant, an art gallery, and a venue for concerts and other live events.

Part and parcel of this renaissance, Navire Argo will move into a 1,500 m2 space in the Production building, a part of the complex where laboratory technicians developed camera negatives and clients previewed color-corrected prints in a dedicated screening room.

Filmmakers will now pick up where these technicians left off, opening the doors of the screening room to the public. The very industry that remained inaccessible to many filmmakers will now be put to the service of contemporary photochemical film practices and the perpetuation of hands-on skills and technical knowledge.

Renovations for Navire Argo

Moving into this building has several advantages, as parts of its infrastructure can be put back into use: there are already air exhaust outlets in the development area, and the screening room has a projection booth that is ready to house our 35mm and 16mm projectors.

This space, initially constructed for large-scale industrial activity, must nonetheless be adapted to the needs of filmmakers working on film today. The building, which dates from 1952 and has been empty for nearly a decade, also shows many signs of deterioration.

The former array of film processors running round-the-clock produced enough heat to keep the building warm despite the lack of thermal insulation. This requires us to rethink the building for our current needs and to limit energy consumption. We need to insulate the walls and ceilings, install a central heating system, and replace the windows with double-glazed glass.

While the screening room was formerly used only by film professionals such as producers and directors of photography, it must now meet all of the safety regulations that will allow us to open it to the public.

The spaces inside of the lab must also be reconfigured: partition walls must be torn down, dust-free rooms need to be created, and the points of entry to the different parts of the lab must be rethought. A space dedicated to the long-term conservation of Navire Argo’s collection of film prints will also be required.

The Collection

In order to build Navire Argo’s collection, we are calling on archives, collectors, filmmakers and distributors willing to entrust us with their film prints – short or long, recent or not – which we will preserve in the best possible conditions (T < 15°C, RH 30%) in exchange for the right to project them to the public in our screening room.

These prints will travel through time, powered by the solar energy of the photovoltaic panels installed on the roof just above them, and will be at the heart of Navire’s programming.

If you wish to contribute to this adventure in any way – by depositing prints or by helping us find them – please write to us at

Architect: François Le Pivain

Funding the Project

An initial study conducted in the Fall of 2021 with a consultant architect allowed us to determine the feasibility of the project and to produce an estimate of 2.5 million euros for the renovation work. This estimate had to be revised to 2.7 million euros to take into account the current inflation.

This investment is coherent with the building’s size and infrastructure and should be considered in light of the stakes involved in the creation of a long-term space.

In 2024, following the renovation work, the filmmaker-members will set up the various lab spaces and carry out the installation of the machines.

In exchange for the large sums that we will invest in this building owned by the city of Épinay-sur-Seine, the local government has agreed to put the space at our disposal at no charge for 35 years.

The city of Epinay-sur-Seine already started renovation work on the structure of the building, its roof and its separation from its neighbors.

The state-sponsored support of the Navire Argo – including the National Center for Cinema (CNC), the Region and the County (département) – is now well under way and should cover 2 M€ of the 2.7 M€ needed.

Our non-profit must still raise 700 000 euros before starting the renovation, in particular through the support of foundations and the participation of big and small donors alike.

The current crowdfunding is aligned with these efforts with a first objective set at 50 000 euros.

To contribute to our fundraising efforts, you can help by sharing our project with individuals, institutions, and businesses who could be interested in making a donation.

If you have the means to do so and would like to contribute to making Navire Argo a reality, you can make a donation yourself.

The organization L’Abominable is supported by the French National Center for Cinema and the Moving Image (CNC), the Ile-de-France region and the Seine-Saint-Denis department.

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