Review of Section 481 – animation and gaming industries should be supported.

Recently I posted about the Department of Finance announcement of a public consultation on Section 481. Throughout the 90’s and early 00’s Section 481 proved vital in attracting in most of the major Hollywood production houses to film in Ireland. Since the mid 2000’s the film industry across the globe has seen a major shift in both film making technology, the decline of those attending cinema and instead more people  are watching DVD’s and on-line viewing. In tandem with this there was been a dramatic reduction in budgets for new projects.

With little or no group thinking on the future of Irish film its not surprising reaction has been slow to these developments, our cost base in some sectors of production have gone way out of line for years, particularly many of the outdated and inflexible working agreement that have never been challenged. Lack of investment in upgrading of studios and keeping pace with the advancements in computer generated imagery has left Irish film at a distinct disadvantage with our rivals. On top of all that we have completely failed to develop a sustainable industry, many well trained crews who were available throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s have either left to work abroad or have found other employment as they have been passed over by producers, who have opted to hire trainee’s with little knowledge of the role at the expense of the production values. I know that sounds daft for producers to engage in such practices, but it would appear the emphasis in recent years has been more about on churning out more drama than the actual quality of that drama.

With changes coming into effect in the UK for high end TV production, the future of Irish film sector looks bleak, unless there are radical changes to the structure of film production. Tax incentives will play a vital role but expecting tax incentives alone to entice international producer to Ireland will not clinch it, out dated work practices must be address, and ensure that a data base of skilled and competent technicians is established along with on-going training to improve skills. While Screen Training Ireland have been involved in training for many years its focus has been very narrow and most technician have never had any formal training within the industry. For far too long Irish Film Industry has been drifting aimlessly. the Irish Film Board must take a more hands on role in development of better structures that join all strands of the industry .

Two areas where there has been real growth in Ireland in recent years have been animation and gaming and must be considered in any review of Section 481. Both animation and the gaming industry need greater investment and courses to provide the industry with enough skilled people to generate future growth in this area.

Recently Ireland was chosen as as the spotlight country at Annecy International Animation Film Festival, the world’s largest event entirely focused on animation. Executive Director of SDGI, Birch Hamilton said:

“We have a huge amount of talented animation directors in Ireland and the fact that Annecy has chosen Ireland as the spotlight country for the global animation showcase is a great recognition of the world-class animation produced in Ireland today.”

Animation and gaming industry are both being considering by the UK government for inclusion, both should be considered for The Department of Finance on section 481 review.  The UK Government consultation document  are considering the inclusion of both, the entire document can be found here.

Consultation on Section 481 will take place between now and July 31st 2012.

(c) Tom Dowling 2012

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Categories: Film and TV

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