Irish Film sector “Bucking the Trend” on employment, but where are the jobs?

SONY DSCRecent report’s released to the media suggest that there has been an increase in employment in the Irish film sector from a level of 5,000 in 2008 to 6,500 in 2012, but provides no information where these jobs are?

There is no doubt that 2012 was a better year for Irish Film than 2011. The most notable success in 2012 was the History Channel’s 10 part series of ‘Vikings‘ which finished shooting in November and it easily accounts for the 20% increase in investment from what was a very bleak year in 2011. There were a number of smaller co-productions with British TV channels in 2012, but none of these productions were big or long term employer’s.

With regards to the release of Irish made films, there was a marked improvement in the production values for the first time in many years. ‘What Richard Did‘ is probably the best Irish release in 10 years, ‘Shadow Dancer‘ and ‘Grabbers‘ were very commendable unfortunately none of them received the recognition they deserved at the box office. There are some other productions awaiting distribution deals for release in 2013 such as ‘Citadel‘, ‘Jump, and ‘Good Vibrations all of which I have seen and I would highly recommend. Again all the above mentioned productions were neither large or long term employers.

Reference was also made in the article to Gerrard’s Barrett’s ‘Pilgrim Hill‘ was was shot in 5 days in Kerry on a shoestring budget of €4,500 it’s a real gem and again deserves to be seen. My real issue with this article and others concerning Irish film is, it fails to explain is where these additional 1,500 jobs were created? Evidence would firmly suggest that for at least the past  7-8 years people employed directly in film production has fallen. Crews are much smaller and Ireland no longer attracts larger Hollywood type movies like ‘Braveheart and ‘King Arthur‘ which employ hundreds of people in construction, props and extras.

The only area of growth in the Irish film sector has been animation it has gone from strength to strength in recent years. It’s most likely the animation sector was responsible for any increase in employment levels and not the film and TV fraternity which appears to take credit. Levels of people employed in film and TV production will continue to decline in 2013 and with the British chancellor about to introduce 25% tax break for high end TV series, Ireland is unlikely to attract any future UK TV companies to produce in Ireland. The recommendations of  the 2011 Creative Capital report still falls on deaf ears.

2013 will probably see the closure of Ardmore Studios after more than 50 years in existence hardly a good indication of the virility of Irish film.

Some real evidence of job growth in the sector would be more welcome rather than reissuing press releases from vested groups.


  Irish film and television industry enjoys ‘remarkable year’ as investment soars

As it appeared in The Irish Times Friday, December 21, 2012 – RONAN McGREEVY

Record levels of foreign direct investment went into Irish Film Board (IFB) productions in 2012, it has been announced.

Some €118 million was invested in Irish film and television projects during the year by foreign sources.

Turnover in the sector was up by 30 per cent on the previous year, buoyed by the production of 19 feature films in Ireland and heavy investment in overseas television series such as Vikings and Ripper Street.

Investment in Irish film and television, as opposed to projects that are just filmed here, was up by 20 per cent on last year.

IFB chief executive James Hickey described 2012 as a “remarkable” year for the audiovisual industry.

Bucking the trend 

“The industry has bucked the trend in Ireland since the recession started. The sector now employs the equivalent of 6,500 people in comparison with 5,000 in 2008”.

Although there were few homegrown box-office hits at the cinema, with the exception of What Richard Did, Irish films picked up a slew of awards and had screenings at major film festivals, with three alone at Sundance.

Mr Hickey said films had a much longer life now with DVDs, Netflix and television providing an outlet for productions that might have been missed in the cinema.

The Irish box office was a “very small part of where Irish films go to. Some films might not be a success at the box office but they may be a big success on DVD or online,” he said.

The IFB is in talks with RTÉ to increase the promotion of Irish films.

Some 11 Irish-made feature films and eight co-productions are due to be released next year.

The IFB will hope that Calvary, John Michael McDonagh’s new film, can surpass the €4 million taken at the Irish box office by The Guard.

The film adaptation of John Banville’s Man Booker-winning novel The Sea, starring Ciarán Hinds, will also be released next year, while Joe O’Connor’s adaptation of Star of the Sea will go into production.

Regional spread 

The regional spread of Irish films will also be more pronounced, with The Hardy Bucks set in Co Mayo, Black Ice set in Co Leitrim and Pilgrim Hill set in Co Kerry.

In addition, television series filmed in Ireland for foreign broadcasters including Quirke, Ripper Street and Vikings will be aired next year.

The IFB has also announced a European TV trade mission to Dublin in March next year, as part of the film board’s EU presidency programme.

Films in the pipeline 

What Richard Did: The most commercially successful Irish film at the box office this year. It took €165,625 in its first two weeks and there are high hopes for it when it opens in the UK next month.

Ripper Street: The €8 million drama is set in the East End streets of London at the time of Jack the Ripper but was filmed in Clancy Quay, Dublin. The series starts on BBC on December 30th.

The Stag: Ireland’s answer to The Hangover is about the shenanigans of a group of friends that takes place on a stag weekend in the west of Ireland. It will be released late next year.

Calvary: Director John Michael McDonagh’s follow up to the Irish box office sensation The Guard also stars Brendan Gleeson, this time as a good priest in a bad place.

Last Days on Mars: Irish director Ruairi Robinson’s debut film is a sci-fi thriller set during a mission to Mars. An Irish-British co-production, it was filmed in the UK and in Jordan and has a budget of between €5 million and €10 million.

The Hardy Bucks Movie: The film version of the TV cult series starring small-town Mayo slackers is set during the European Championships in Poland last year.

Article as it appears in the Irish Times

Categories: Film and TV

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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