The Prisoners – An Octagon Films co production to shoot in Germany and Ireland

Details have just been announced on a dark comedy about women in an English farming community who become involved with a German prisoner of war during World War I. Starring Lena Headey (Game of Thrones,), Emily Watson (War Horse) and Anna Friel (Neverland) titled ‘The Poisoners. The cast will also include German actors Ken Duken, Hanno Koffler and Alexander Scheer

Paul Billing has written the screenplay and will be directed by Jon Amiel (The Tudors, The Borgias)

A co production London-based production company, The Producers and Irish company Octagon headed up by James Flynn (The Borgais).

‘The Poisoners’ is due to shoot at MMC Studios in Cologne, Germany later this year and at locations in Ireland yet to be confirmed. No details of Irish funding as yet available. With the involvement of Octagon Films it would be interesting to know if any attempted was made to get the production into the empty Ardmore Studios, though it’s not always easy in the complicated financing structure of modern day film making.

Octagon Films recently got itself embroiled in a controversial local deal with craft unions on its production of Loving Miss Hatto. Much of the problems stem from the fact that a deal was done between Octagon and union’s incognito, and neither side informed the crew members prior to their employment. Worse still crew members worked 3 weeks on part payment before they were finally informed by production that a 12.5 per cent pay reduction would be imposed. Transparency is something that those on both sides of the table must operate and this is very much part of the problem which has besieged the industry in recent years.  Greater clarity and transparency are required; some producers have suggested that things have operated in somewhat of a vacuum for the past 10 years. Talks on a national crafts film agreement between Screen Producers Ireland and craft unions have stumbled on for almost a year and half without resolution.

Loving Miss Hatto completed principle photography last Friday. The construction crew employed on Loving Miss Hatto are taking their case to the Labour Court on May 8th to seek a reversal of the 12.5% pay imposed on them by Octagon.

Looking at the bigger picture just to put some perspective on Irish film facilities, Magic Media Company (MMC) Cologne claims it is one of Europe’s largest and most advanced TV and film studio operators. With 19 sound stages and with a total floor area of 221 000 sq. ft. Sizes range from 1.900 to 27.600 sq. ft. including the two tallest stages in Europe with a height of 75 feet to grid (one with a water tank), as well as a green screen (3-wall Cyc) with a floor space of 2.325 square feet and at operating area of 1.350 sq. ft. Impressive!

On the management side of things at MMC it makes even more interesting reading.

“New challenges, technical innovations, and current trends: MMC’s Art Department explores, integrates, and develops them into new possibilities.

A team of experienced production and project managers, collaborating with a pool of dedicated and professional set designers and media technicians, ensures that all ideas and requirements are realized with precision.

MMC’s Art Department, with its own workshops and equipped with state-of-the-art production technologies, can produce and install projects of any dimensions in a very short time. Flexibility and cost optimization, and above all, commitment and enthusiasm, are key to this”.

MCC go on to give an overview of its services using phrases such as:

  • Structured project management and control.
  • Cost-efficient solutions for all project requirements.
  • Individual consulting by experienced project managers.
  • Coordination of necessary approval procedures.
  • Strict cost optimization – from planning to construction phases.

Just imagine what it might be like to work in Irish film if it were to operated in such a structured environment?

Perhaps a little late for Ardmore Studios, but for Screen Producers Ireland it’s something that they must get to grips with now, and for Ballyhenry Studios time to get the right policy in place from the outset.

In recent years policy or lack of it, appears driven by a small section within the craft unions, while producers have failed to seek industry feedback on the core issues. There has been no clear strategy or structured plan to develop an industry which would provide the right conditions for more long term employment for all in the Industry.

The objectives of the Creative Capital Report appear a long way off.

Tom Peters one of the most respected management consultants around, sums it up very well.

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Categories: Film and TV

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1 reply

  1. this new film about england and about germans fimed in ireland seems like it could be a success. Pat

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