The new Irish Film Board members bring a broader skill set at a time of uncertainty.

Neverland Green Screen Studio_Tom Dowling

It was refreshing to see a broader base of knowledge from the world of audio visual sector appointed to the Irish Film Board and especially pleasing to see a members representing animation and the technical side of the industry.

The appointments are for a four-year period and the board members are:

Mr Seamus Deasy (Cinematographer)
Award winning cinematographer, Seamus Deasy who has been nominated for five Irish Film and Television Awards including Best Director of Photography Film/TV Drama for Neverland (2011) and the winner of the 2005 IFTA Award for Best Cinematography for The Tiger’s Tail (2006).

Dr Annie Doona (Academic)
Dr Annie Doona is President of Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) a centre of excellence for education and training in film, animation, broadcasting and digital media. since it was launched in November 2003.

Katie Holly (Producer)
Katie Holly is MD of Blinder Films Her debut feature One Hundred Mornings received a Special Jury Award at the 2010 Slamdance Film Festival and an IFTA for best cinematography.  Katie began her career at Treasure Entertainment in 2001.

Ms Kate O’Toole (Actress)
Irish actress who’s appearances include Dancing at Lughnasa, Eden, and John Huston’s last film, The Dead. Her stage work includes Terry Johnson’s Dead Funny with Rough Magic Theatre Co. (Irish Times Theatre Awards nomination for Best Actress), Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast (awarded Best Actress UK at the Arts Council/TMA Theatre Awards)

Mr John Rice (Animator)
Kerry man John Rice is a company director, co-founder and CEO of JAM Media, an award winning animation company which creates, develops and produces its own entertainment brands. To date JAM’s entertainment brands have been licensed to over 70 territories, translated into 23 languages and can be seen by over 120 million people. JAM Media recently announced the creation of 40 new jobs at its Belfast base. Animation remains the strongest growth sector within the creative industries.

 Mr Maurice Sweeney (Documentary Filmmaker)
Maurice Sweeney is regarded as one of Ireland’s leading documentary filmmakers INCLUDING drama documentaries Cromwell In Ireland to creative portraits of Irish writer Flann O Brien and crime writer John Connolly, Mr Sweeney has just finished his first major drama feature, Saving The Titanic, to wide critical acclaim.  As a director, Mr Sweeney has won four IFTAS.

The biggest surprise was the appointment of sports presenter and public relations guru Bill O’Herlihy  as the next chair of the Irish Film Board. One might have thought that given the wealth of experience within the industry that James Morris had that his successor would also command a similar CV. Bill has an excellent pedigree in the world of sports journalism and chairing one of the best sporting football panel on any station.  My next comments may appear prejudice on ageism grounds but it’s entirely based on his lack experience in the world of film production that makes his appointment unusual.

Chairman Designate, Mr Bill O’Herlihy
Bill O’Herlihy  (74) has worked in broadcasting since the 1960s, and has been RTÉ’s chief sports presenter for major events such as Olympic Games, FIFA World Cups, UEFA European Football Championships Mr O’Herlihy won a Jacobs’ Award for his presentation of the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Mr O’Herlihy is also a public relations executive.

Film production worldwide is going through what can only be described as a technology revolution, guidelines and blueprints for the industry are being torn up. The industry is in a state of flux, work practices, advancement in cameras and computer generated imagery have altered the landscape completely. There are more ways of getting your project to your audience, but that has been compounded by piracy, fewer royalties from DVD sales, and a growing number of services such as netflix make it difficult for producers to make a return from a project to sustain film making as we have known.

It’s true that the makeup of the new board will bring most of that knowledge to the table. However the role of a chairman is critical to any board and Bill O’Herlihy distinct lack of knowledge in the film making process could lead to delays at a critical time for Irish Film industry.

It has been said that the role of chairperson is a thankless job, not everyone can get funding from the Film Board and as chairman you can easily find yourself without friends in the film community and possible that’s the reason why Bill got the nod.

The other factor that cannot be ruled out is political favour. Mr O’Herlihy has been a staunch Fine Gael supporter had was one of former Fine Gael Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald’s media handlers in the 1980s

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan in announcing the new board went on to say

“I am delighted that these seven very talented individuals have accepted my invitation to become members of the board of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board. They are joining Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board at a very important time for Ireland’s film and audiovisual sector”.

“Supporting and creating employment – across all sectors – is a priority for this Government. The film and audiovisual sector is playing its part, and it is vital that we grow the contribution that this sector can make to Ireland’s on-going recovery.

On the subject of Mr O’Herlihy political allegiance Minister Deenihan said:

“He was never an adviser in my time for the last 30 years. I’ve never seen Bill at any Fine Gael function. I have never met Bill in any other context other than sport and television.”

It understood that all of the board have declined remuneration for their service which is not always the best way either.

To close here is a short section from one of James Morris last interviews as chairman to Hot Press magazine

Hot press question: Do you feel it’s the right time for you to go?

JM:Leaving will be a change – but I will still be doing something connected with film making, that’s for sure. You’ve gotta have new thinking, new blood and all that. We brought that principle in as well, in terms of the creative process. The Board is made up of people who are connected to the industry in one way or another, who bring some knowledge and experience about film-making with them as members of the Board. So somebody else now takes over and I’m sure they will have the same passion for it as we all did. I think if you’re going to take it on, you have to really want to do it – otherwise there’s not much point”.

In the words of the chairman designate….. “okeydokey We’ll leave it there, so”.

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Categories: Film and TV

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1 reply

  1. Mr O’Herlihy’s tenure as chair will certainly be interesting. How productive or successful it will be are different matters. His appointment rather confounds common sense.

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