Des Whelan – “We desperately need joined up thinking by those who WANT a Film Industry”

In recent months I have received many comments from crew members of various departments working in the Irish film Industry, and how their roles and working conditions have been decimated in recent years. They would include crew members as assistant directors, locations, production office, hair and make up, art department and construction.

Most of those who have been in contact do not wish their names to be revealed (which I respect), as they believe some producers would freeze them out of work for speaking their mind on the realities of working in Irish film.

Yesterday I was contacted by Des Whelan and wanted his comments to be openly shared. Des  has many years of experience and respected camera operator within the industry, in more recent years work has taken him abroad for most of that time and his most recent credits include ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’, ‘Sherlock Holmes’, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, and in Ireland on ‘The Tudors‘.  Please read the observations made below by Des, and would welcome other who wish to do likewise.

“Hi Tom, been reading your observations on the Film Industry in Ireland and I couldn’t agree more.

I haven’t done much work in Ireland in recent years, but have witnessed the greedy race to the bottom. I watch with despair the demise of an industry that I have given almost 40 years of my life too. I don’t know to what end, the seemingly continuous articles in the Newspapers and other Media, about how “great” the Film Industry is doing. When clearly, when observed, by anyone who bothers to look, that it’s crashing!
Some Producers, along with some Unions don’t seem to have the same desires, ambitions and duty of care for the Industry. The Film Industry, worldwide, had changed, for ever. Producers in Ireland, with exceptions, have shown little or no ambition or ability to attract Hollywood Productions to Ireland, TV or Film. Seemingly content to have their noses in the Tax trough that is Section 481 or funding from the Film Board. A closed circle, enjoying the flow of tax payers money. No investment in infrastructure or talent has been developed or encouraged in the last 20 years. We desperately need joined up thinking by those who WANT a Film Industry, and all that, that implies.

Currently, it appears, there is only short term interests being served, by a hi-jacked tax fueled Government incentive. Few people seem prepared to rock that boat!!”

Thanks Des for sharing your comments.

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Categories: Film and TV

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5 replies

  1. If the Americans aren’t in town we have no industry, they were here but not anymore nor will they return so I would go there Des as ain’t nothing here for your talent and your rate.

    • Adrian, the real issue is why the Americans are not coming? You also need to look at the fact that there are other film making nations of scale besides the Americans such as India, France, Germany, Italian and the U.K. On a recent trip to Prague’s Barrandov studios there were 3 films on going with budgets over €30 million none of them are American.
      The big players in the Czech Republic for the past number of years have been the Germans and the French and sometimes Italians,strangely enough one of the current productions there is a French/Korean production the biggest employer there at the present. With U.K. television production now removed, any hopes of Ireland supporting a film industry based on indigenous film alone is gone, we must get the conditions right to encourage foreign companies to make major movies here.

  2. Couldn’t agree more with comments made by Des . Unfortunately everyone knows it’s the truth but few are prepared to say it openly for fear of blacklisting if they speak out . I’m astonished at why the Revenue have let this Golden Circle carry on . Honestly even reading the IBEC / SPI Creative Capital Report is so full of bull , 5-6 thousand full time employed people in this Part-time industry with promises to increase this to 14 thousand within a few years , I mean come on I can honestly say what a load of bull . Where are all these so called Full time jobs . Can anyone tell me ? Are they all employed in Private Production Offices funded under the RUSE of Production Loans / Slate money that’s rarely ever paid back to the Taxpayers of this State ! It beggars belief . Well done Des , hopefully someone , anyone that has the knowhow can get the right authorities to take stock because come next April the lights will be turned out completely by Foreign Producers from UK and US as they return back to Britain for a better Tax Incentive and not the false propaganda of Labour Costs that’s been thrown about by SPI to crush people more and more . The Comparison I’ll give on this lie when BECTU Official arrived in Dublin and compared Craft Rates to those of similar Grades in Britain , Painter / Carpenter / Plasterer , it showed that Irish Craftsmen were on a weekly basis €481.00 cheaper than counterparts in Britain and they worked a shorter week than us . So many agendas played out by so many groups the truth is difficult to get out . I can verify these figures as I attended meeting and done the breakdown and conversion for the Craft Group who never used this information !

    • Ger, publishing the comparisons between BECTUT and the relevant craft rates here would be very useful in validating that case.

      • Tom , publishing these comparative rates really isn’t the problem , the problem is it won’t change a damn thing and you know it . If the union group done nothing with them only hide them away from their own members and SPI what would publishing them do ??? It’s a big part of the reason I stood down . I’ve also SPI DOCUMENTS handed to the union group with several scenarios of various comparative Crew costs , ie , 30 man construction crew costs over a period of weeks both here and UK and funnily enough when broke down all these scenarios and figures produced didn’t tally up ? One would have to believe that SPI were thinking that the union group would never break down these , but I did and I couldn’t tally them , again not used ?? It’s got to the point now Construction Crews don’t know what agreement their working on . I’m on 91 , others on so called Local like Chippies who by the way were placed on this without the most basic democratic right ,,, A VOTE ON THEIR OWN FUTURES ? I’m finished now I’ll wait for Painters Meeting on National Draft , and will not even argue , just vote ! Whatever happens if accepted or rejected so be it , I’ll just get on with it .

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