Monday 31 December 2007

Happy 2008

May all Guild members have a happy and prosperous 2008!

Wednesday 19 December 2007

Arts in January

According to IFTN the new series of RTÉ's Arts Lives will begin broadcast on January 8th, and will feature seven profiles: writer and director, Graham Linehan (Father Ted, The IT Crowd); singer and performer Noirín Ní Ríaín; author John Banville (2005 Man Booker Prize winner for his novel The Sea); Dubliner Ronnie Drew; screenwriter and author Patrick McCabe (The Butcher Boy, Breakfast on Pluto); pianist John O'Conor; and poet Paul Muldoon.

Tuesday 18 December 2007

Writers Look Beyond Studios

The L.A. Times reports that striking writers in Hollywood are looking for new opportunities for income from the Internet.

Seven groups have been created that are looking for venture capital to create alterative Internet-based businesses, and three of the groups are hoping to create models based on the United Artists production company started eighty years ago by Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith.

Silicon Valley investors historically have been averse to backing entertainment start-ups, believing that such efforts were less likely to generate huge paydays than technology companies. But they began considering a broader range of entertainment investments after observing the enormous sums paid for popular Web video companies, including the $1.65 billion that Google Inc. plunked down last year for YouTube, a site where users post their own clips.

They also have been emboldened by major advertisers, which prefer supporting professionally created Web entertainment to backing user-generated content on sites such as MySpace that can be in poor taste.

"I'm 100% confident that you will see some companies get formed," said Todd Dagres, a Boston-based venture capitalist who has been flying to L.A. and meeting with top writers for weeks. "People have made up their minds."

What effect this would have on the strike is unclear. So far, the percentage of the guild's 10,000 striking writers who are in discussions with venture capitalists appears to be small. Any deal of this kind, however, could put pressure on the studios and help the writers' public relations campaign. Writers who are talking to venture investors say the studios would suffer a brain drain if high-profile talents received outside funding and were no longer beholden to them.

Friday 14 December 2007

WGA Files Suit

United Hollywood reports that the WGA has filed a lawsuit against the AMPTP with the federal government for breaking off negotiations:

The AMPTP and each of its member companies have a legal obligation to bargain in good faith with the WGA. Their unilateral walkout from negotiations last Friday and their on-going refusal to bargain is illegal under the National Labor Relations Act. Therefore the WGA today filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against the AMPTP with the National Labor Relations Board.

Thursday 13 December 2007

MTV Back Down

United Hollywood reports on a success story from New York, where freelance writers and staff walked out en masse this week from the offices of MTV and VHI after being handed a diktat from the management that reversed many of their basic work rights:

The offense that originally prompted action on [the employees'] part occurred December 4 when they were instructed to pick up their holiday party invitations. They were then instructed to fill out "additional paperwork," that was due two days later on Thursday, December 6. This paperwork contained the news that they were no longer entitled to their 401(k) plans, dental insurance, paid vacation days (of which they had five, and now have 0), holidays, and that the 50-hour workweek would become the norm, after which hourly wage earners were eligible for overtime. Says one freelancer, "They've just informed us that if we entered the company less than one year ago and work for an hourly wage (as most people under management-level do), we will not get paid for one day off."
The demonstration caused Viacom (the company that owns MTV) to reverse its decision and return the benefits of their employees.

Wednesday 12 December 2007

Distribution by Download

The Associated Press reports that Universal Pictures is starting to experiment with HD digital downloads of movies with the release of The Bourne Ultimatum via the online distributor, Vudu.

The film was available for download yesterday, which was the same day the DVD came out.

Universal Pictures, the studio behind the "Bourne" movies, is the first to offer a downloadable HD version of a movie the same day as the DVD is released.

In addition to working with Universal, Vudu has signed deals to distribute HD content from Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. Universal is owned by NBC Universal, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and Vivendi Universal, while Paramount is a division of Viacom Inc. Lionsgate is independent.

The Vudu box, which first went on sale in October, offers a catalog of about 5,000 standard-definition films, which can be rented for 99 cents to $4.99. Some films, including the HD editions of the "Bourne" films, can only be purchased, meaning they can be stored permanently on the set-top.

"The Bourne Identity," "The Bourne Supremacy," and "The Bourne Ultimatum" will sell for $24.99 each, though Vudu customers can get the two older movies for free during the holiday season.
Welcome to the age of digital downloads.

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Stuckemarkt 08

Dramatists and theatre publishers from all over Europe are invited to submit new plays in any European language for the Stückemarkt 2008. The only requirement is that the plays must not have been premièred or performed in Germany before.

The jury, consisting of renowned theatre professionals from various fields, will select five texts for the Stückemarkt. These will then be presented in scenic readings during the Theatertreffen in May. Experienced directors and dramaturges will produce these readings in cooperation with the authors.

Five further authors will be selected by the jury to take part in the dramatists' workshop with the author and dramaturg John von Düffel.

Together with the German Federal Agency for Civic Education the Stückemarkt will award the New Playwriting Prize and the tt stückemarkt Commission, both include a world premiere at a leading German-language theatre. New in 2008: One of the ten selected plays will be adapted for radio by Deutschlandradio Kultur.
The New Playwriting Prize is worth €5,000 Euro. It will be awarded to one of the authors whose play is presented as a staged reading. There is one notable change from 2007: the Development Prize for New Writing is now coupled with a premiere at the Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin.

The tt stückemarkt Commission, first awarded in 2007 and worth €7,000, is awarded to one of the participants in the playwriting workshop of the Stückemarkt. The author’s new play will be premiered at a leading theatre.

Applications must be postmarked no later than December 15th, 2007. Please consult the web site for more details.

Friday 7 December 2007

Smock Alley on Hold

The Stage reports that the €7.2 million plan by the Gaiety School of Acting to redevelop the Smock Alley Theatre in Temple Bar, Dublin has been stalled by planning objections.

According to the local resident, there is concern about the noise that a theatre in the area would generate, particularly as it would include a bar. Damien Cassidy, of the Irish Heritage and Conservation Group, said he was objecting because he felt it would be more in keeping with the original architecture of the area if a church, which had occupied part of the half-acre site, was restored, rather than the theatre. It was a "totally unsuitable" venue for a theatre, he claimed.

The Gaiety School's ambitious plans include a 220-seat theatre, plus a 110-seat studio space and seven rehearsal/training studios. Fund-raising is on target for the project, which has been described as "inspirational" by Irish Hollywood star Liam Neeson, one of the acting school's patrons.

In a message to school director Partrick Sutton, he wrote: "I am particularly excited about this project. For the school to rebuild a theatre on the site of the original 1662 Smock Alley is inspirational. For it to be a resource for the theatre community as a whole is an added bonus. "

Sources 2 Extended

Screen Training Ireland has extended the deadline for applications to the SOURCES 2 Script Development Workshop to the 15th December 2007.

SOURCES 2 is a professional training organisation providing the European film industry with high level script development programmes. Between 1992 and 2007, the Dutch Foundation SOURCES realized 55 workshops in 17 European countries. The efficiency of SOURCES 2 Script Development Workshops lies in their special format. During the seven-day session, participants work in small groups with four or five projects each, guided by internationally experienced advisers. The following period of approximately three months is dedicated to re-writes, and is coached by the script advisers involved. The second session is either an individual or a small group consultation of one day per project.

For more information on how to apply please consult the STI web site.

Thursday 6 December 2007

Irish at Sundance '08

IFTN reports that two Irish writers will have their work screened at this year's Sundance Film Festival from the 17-27 January 2008, in Park City, Salt Lake City, USA.

'The Sound of People', written and directed by Simon Fitzmaurice, and produced by Noreen Donohoe, is the only Irish short among the19 titles chosen for the Dramatic Shorts selection, and was shortlisted from over 5,000 entries. The film stars Irish actor Martin McCann as eighteen-year-old Stephen, a young man who connects with his past and future and stares into the face of his own death. Fitzmaurice said: "I am absolutely over the moon about getting into Sundance. Everyone worked heart and soul on this film and this is a wonderful response."

Ken Wardrop will showcase two films in the Documentary Shorts selection: 'Farewell Packets of Ten' and 'Scoring'. 'Packets of Ten' is about two ladies discussing the pros and cons of their addiction to cigarettes, while 'Scoring' reveals the true power of a kiss.

Other Budget Increases

Under yesterday's budget the Irish Arts Council didn't obtain their goal of €100m in funding, but they did achieve an increase of €5m, which brings the body to €85m overall. Olive Braiden, Chair of the Arts Council, said:

I welcome today’s allocation to the Arts Council. I am pleased with the outcome especially in the circumstances of current public finances. I congratulate Minister Brennan in maintaining the Government’s existing significant commitment to the arts. The Arts Council looks forward to working with the Minister in the year ahead to build on this year’s provision.
Culture Ireland also saw an increase of 6% in its funding for marketing Irish artists and art abroad.

WGA thanks Guilds

The IPSG received letters of thanks from the WGA East and West for our contribution to the International Day of Support last week for the WGA strike:

Letter from the Writers Guild of America West:

Dear Members of the International Writers' Community:

We at the Writers Guild of America extend our heartfelt thanks to members of the international community for your unprecedented and robust outpouring of support for our cause on International Solidarity Day on November 28. We were moved and inspired by the hundreds of scribes who marched in front of the Eiffel Tower in France, at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, and on the streets of Canada, England, Australia, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, Wales, and Mexico. Clearly, our fight to win fair compensation from global media corporations has struck a chord with writers everywhere.

The scope of the protests was truly impressive: In Berlin, over 100 German writers carried WGA picket signs at the Brandenburg Gate. Hundreds of writers marched in freezing temperatures in Montreal and Toronto. In Amsterdam, an auditorium full of writers cheered our cause. We have heard from the Portuguese Screenwriters Guild, the Writers Guild of Great Britain, the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds, the Writers Guild of Canada, the Screenwriters Guild of Germany, and the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe. Members of the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild marched for our cause dressed as leprechauns!

At home, WGA members with international backgrounds marched at NBC Studios in Burbank, California. Jean-Yves Pitoun, a French native and WGA West member, stressed that the fight in the U.S. has an impact abroad: "Europeans are very carefully watching the writers, actors, and directors in the U.S. because Rupert Murdoch is everywhere."

We thank you for reinforcing that fair compensation for writers is a worldwide cause. Together our voices will be heard.


Board of Directors
Writers Guild of America West

Letter from Michael Winship, Writers Guild of America East:

Subject: Thank You So Much for the International Day of Solidarity

Dear Friends of the IAWG:
I am on a short break from the negotiations in Los Angeles, and have a chance to send you this note.

First, I am so sorry that I was unable to see all of you in Montreal, but strike duty prevailed. It sounds as if it was a productive and enjoyable meeting and it would have been great to be there. Next year!

Second, and more important, I want to express my profound gratitude to all of you for invoking and then so effectively implementing the International Day of Solidarity on November 28. Your support means so much to our members. It was an inspiration to see our strike signs held high all over the world. Your steadfastness and willingness to spread the gospel were above and beyond the call of duty.I am proud to count all of you among my friends.

Thank you so very much!
In solidarity,

Michael Winship
Writers Guild of America, East

Film Board Budget Increase

The Irish Film Board, Ireland's national film agency, has announced that the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Seamus Brennan, announced a 18% increase in the Film Board's funding in yesterday's budget.

The agency's budget has been increased from €19.6 in 2007 to €23.2 million in 2008, which indicates strong government support for the Irish film sector.

These figures reflect what has been a successful year for the Irish film industry. IFB funded projects and the Irish film industry have picked up over 20 international awards during 2007. Major triumphs include Once winning the Audience Award for World Cinema at the Sundance Film Festival. Once went on to be released in the US to universal critical acclaim and has gone on to take almost $10 million at the North American box office. Garage was selected for the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, scooping the CICAE Art and Essai Cinema Prize. Consolata Boyle received an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design on The Queen, Joan Bergin won an Emmy for her work on the US TV series The Tudors and Kings was selected as the Irish film to be submitted for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award. Irish films have also been selected for other A-list festivals Toronto, Venice and Pusan.

'We welcome Minister Brennan's decision to implement a substantial increase in the Board's direct funding at this time. It is an endorsement of the IFB's policies for promoting and developing Irish filmmaking talent and Irish film enterprises. We are confident that Irish films will continue to grow in success and international recognition with all the wider benefits to the economy that flow from this" said James Morris, Chair, IFB.

"This extremely welcome uplift in the IFB's funding will enable us to respond to pressing needs in Irish filmmaking. We aim to provide more support for the sustained development of Irish stories with international reach, well funded schemes for the production of short films to reveal new Irish talent and to invest in new production at a level that will stimulate the making of bigger-budget films with potential to compete in the world market" commented Simon Perry, Chief Executive, IFB.

Wednesday 5 December 2007

EU Research Actresses

The Stage reports that Global union, the International Federation of Actors, has won EU funds to research television and theatre opportunities for female performers over 40.

Grant money of more than €150,000 has been awarded from Brussels for the research, which will examine what roles exist for older women and how decisions are made when casting parts which can be played by either sex. It will also look how women over 40 are portrayed in television and theatre.

Entitled Changing Gender Portrayal: Promoting Employment Opportunities for Women in the Performing Arts, the research will include a survey that will be handed to each of the federation’s affiliated unions in Europe.

Equity members will be asked to comment on what kind of roles they have played recently, how big the part was and what their playing age is.

Results from the UK will be compared with those from other countries taking part and a conference discussing the findings is expected to be held next year.

Equity vice president Jean Rogers, who has led the formation of the research, said: "Although men and women receive the same training as performers and are equally successful during their twenties, from around 35 to 40 onwards their job opportunities lessen and their careers begin to wane, unlike their male counterparts."

She added: "Since TV, film and theatre should mirror nature, why should this be? There are as many women as men in the population, indeed more women, as the population ages."

Tuesday 4 December 2007

dumbFUNDED Comedy

The dumbFUNDED Theatre in the UK is running a comedy sketch writing competition on the theme of "Town & Country".

Comedy writing star James Henry (writer - Green Wing, Smack The Pony, ManStrokeWoman) is judging entries. Actors will then perform winning sketches as part of THE DUMBFUNDED COMEDY SHOWCASE!, a live comedy extravaganza, in Falmouth, Cornwall in early March 2008. Sketch writers for shows like this have gone on to win international competitions and worldwide acclaim!

Winning writers have the chance to direct and workshop their scripts with local actors. Bring the best of your vision from script to stage. Winners will also receive a free DVD of the show.
The deadline for receipt of entries is the 4th of January, 2008.

Monday 3 December 2007

Garage Wins Again

The Film Board reports that Garage, written by Mark O'Halloran and directed by Lenny Abrahamson, won the Best Film award at the Turin Film Festival in Italy, a prize that is worth €25,000.

The film also scooped the Jury Award at the Festival de Chatenay Malabry and the Grand Prix and Students Award at the Festival Cinessone in France last month.


The L.A. Times recently suggested that the strike in the USA could prompt people to take on the mantle of writer-entrepreneur.

Writer Guild members, listen up. There is a lesson here. Just ask Tony Gilroy, the writer-director of "Michael Clayton," a nervy thriller that's won critical raves this fall. Gilroy had a script that was dead in the water until a total outsider -- a Boston real estate developer named Steve Samuels -- said if Gilroy could get a star and stick to a budget, he'd bankroll the film.

Gilroy didn't see himself as an entrepreneur. He just had a script that was burning a hole in his pocket. "I'd say the experience was more about my wising up than becoming a visionary," he explained the other day. "But the moment I started chasing private-equity money, it didn't take me long before I'd realized that I'd short-circuited the formula for getting a greenlight. I didn't need studio approval. All I needed was one guy who believed in the movie."

Gilroy is now a convert. "The studios have got to be hoping that this idea about being entrepreneurs doesn't sweep over the TV show runners, because once you start seeing really good production values on the Internet, I mean, what does Larry David really need HBO for? This is all everybody is talking about on the line. They're not talking about healthcare. They're going, 'Wow, is there a different way to get our movies and TV shows made?' "

Thursday 29 November 2007

Video for Day of Support

A strong turn-out of members from the Guild demonstrated in Dublin yesterday as part of the International Day of Support for the WGA strike in the USA. Videos from other countries that participated in the rally can also be viewed at the Day of Support on YouTube. Many thanks to Alessandro Molatore for his sterling work putting the video together.

Public Lending Rights

According to the Irish Writers Union the long-awaited Public Lending Right (PLR) scheme has finally come into effect.

Until yesterday, Irish writers have never been paid for the lending of their works via the Irish public library system. The EU ruled that Ireland failed to comply with a 1992 directive on the matter, and in September the Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill 2007 was passed in the Seanad.

Irish writers can now expect a regular modest payment for when their books are borrowed from Irish libraries.

Tuesday 27 November 2007


Tomorrow's schedule for our Day of Support for the WGA's strike in the USA is as follows:

Meet at the Guild building (Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2). We'll supply the WGA t-shirts, and placards like they've got on YouTube. You can even make your own. A sample slogan is: "They wrong, We write".

Once we're kitted out we'll travel to outside Twentieth Century Fox for a short demonstration, and then onto Sony Pictures.

Please turn up and show your solidarity with our fellow writers in the USA. They have put their careers and incomes on the line to highlight their essential contribution to the film industry, and to request proper remuneration for their creative talent. This is a struggle that writers across the globe can appreciate.

4.30pm - 5pm
The Guild's End of Year Drinks (with sausages on sticks for those who haven't eaten since lunchtime) at the IFI. Picketing is thirsty work.

Looking forward to seeing you all in good cheer!

HighTide Needs Plays

The HighTide Festival (2-5 May 2008) is looking for new work for its playwriting competition.

Writers may submit one unproduced, unpublished full-length play (no longer than 90 minutes) before 4 January 2008. Selected writers will receive £3000 in respect of a one-year exclusive option for HighTide Festival Productions Ltd to produce the play at the Festival and beyond. All applicants must be resident in the UK or Ireland. Details about how to submit are on the web site.

Monday 26 November 2007

Writing for Video Games

The Digital Media Forum is organising a workshop to examine the increasing importance of narrative for the success of computer and console games, and it will look at what skills are required for writing for games.

Guest speaker Guy Miller is an artist, writer and game designer. Credited with writing the storyline for the original Tomb Raider game (his minuscule footnote in gaming history is coming up with the name ‘Lara’), he has become renowned in the gaming industry. He also co-designed and directed the notorious ShadowMan games, and was Creative Director for EA’'s Harry Potter series.

The seminar will take place on Wednesday 28th November, at Filmbase on Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, from 6:30 - 8:30pm. Admission is free, but registration is required as space is limited. Please phone the Digital Media Forum on +353-1-4893604 to book your spot.


The WGA has been uploading a series of clever videos, featuring Hollywood actors, to highlight the strike called Speechless. So far twelve of them have been aired, and this is the first one. The WGA now has a web site entitled Speechless Without Writers, which is devoted to the campaign.

Call for European TV

According to The Hollywood Reporter the German foreign minister and vice-chancellor Franz-Walter Steinmeier, called for a new pan-European television agenda at the recent European Television Dialogue in Berlin.

"It can no longer be taken for granted European lifestyle or European political views will be considered desirable and worthy of imitation" in this new global world, Steinmeier said, making it all the more important for European media makers to talk to one another.

"Sometimes I think we know more about the territory on the moon than about (fellow European) media territories," he said, adding that Western countries were particularly ignorant about developments in Eastern Europe.

But Steinmeier said Western Europe had a role to play in ensuring that the traditions of media independence and press freedom were extended to the countries of the former Eastern Bloc.

Steinmeier's colleague, former German finance minister Wolfgang Clement, went one step further. In a keynote address titled "Vision of a European Television," Clement called on European public broadcasters to join together to create a truly European channel "available in all households in all countries across the (European) Union."

Clement also struck a protectionist note, demanding new laws to cap non-EU ownership of media companies at 25%. Clement said the move was necessary to maintain a true European media culture.

Sunday 25 November 2007

Who's On The Line

A simple and effective film that shows the hard realities of being a jobbing screenwriter in the USA.

Thursday 22 November 2007

Sex in Irish Films

Award-winning Irish screenwriter and actor Mark O'Halloran joins Film Ireland magazine as guest editor for the January-February 2008 issue. Mark's films include Adam and Paul, and Garage, which is still on release in cinemas, and the critically-acclaimed television series Prosperity. Mark is the first of a series of Irish film industry guest editors who will be editing upcoming issues of Film Ireland.

The next issue of Film Ireland will be devoted exclusively to the topic of sex in Irish cinema. Mark says: "A serious examination of the whole issue of sex in Irish cinema and television has been largely overlooked by the media. I was very interested in asking some questions about representations of sex, nudity and related themes in Irish film, because it has always seemed to me that we're a bit shy about that in this country. It's also a topic which lets us discuss serious issues like sexuality and censorship, but also to get playful and ask people who their Irish sex fantasy would be and to look at the myths around Irish porn".

In conjunction with the publication of the issue, Film Ireland is also running an online survey of Irish attitudes to sex on screen. With a mix of serious and playful questions the survey hopes to capture a snapshot of opinion on the subject from the effectiveness of the TV watershed, to pornography, to the quality of sex scenes in Irish film.

The survey is anonymous and can be accessed from the Filmbase web site.

Day of Support

Wednesday the 28th of November has been designated the international Day of Support for the WGA strike.

Irish writers can demonstrate their solidarity with the WGA by arriving at the Guild office at Art House, Curved Street, Temple Bar in Dublin on Wednesday 28th November at 3.00 pm.

We'll have t-shirts, placards, a photographer, and a videographer, and with colleagues in Sydney, Auckland, Paris, Mexico City, London, Brussels, Berlin, Toronto, Montreal, we will demonstrating world-wide support for the writers' strike in the USA.

Wednesday 21 November 2007

Filmbase Shorts 07

Three winners of the second round of the 2007 Filmbase/RTÉ Short Film Awards have been announced. The three scripts were selected from over 130 projects:

Nightclubbing: Carol Murphy (writer/director) & Jennifer Sabbah (producer)
O Blessed Water: Morgan Bushe (writer/director) & Conor Barry (producer)
Tart: Martín de Barra (writer/director) & Steven Davenport (producer)

The closing date for the next round for the Filmbase/RTÉ Short Film Awards is 5pm Friday 25th January 2008.

Short Films Session

Filmbase is hosting an information session on short film schemes application and selection procedures in Ireland. The panel includes Fran Keaveney from the Irish Film Board, Seamus Duggan representing RTÉ and Alan Fitzpatrick from Filmbase. Maeve Joyce from the Galway Film Centre and Chris Hurley from the Cork Film Centre will also be in attendance to take specific questions on their respective schemes. The session will take place on Tuesday 27th November at Filmbase from 1:30 - 4:30pm.

This information session is aimed at writers, producers and directors interested in submitting projects to the major Irish short film schemes. The schemes covered will include the new Film Board shorts schemes Signatures, Reality Bites, Short Shorts and Frameworks, along with the Filmbase, Galway Film Centre and Cork Film Centre short schemes with RTÉ and the Irish language Lasair scheme run by Filmbase and TG4.

The session will cover the requirements for each of the schemes. The guidelines and application procedures for each of the schemes will also be covered. In addition, common mistakes in applications and approaches to presentation will be highlighted. The session will also cover an overview of information required from shortlisted applications, and will again review common mistakes made at this stage of the process.

Requirements for project delivery, including all relevant paperwork, will be discussed and samples issued. There will also be time for detailed audience questions on any aspect of the short film schemes.

The seminar is free, but places should be reserved in advance. Please contact Clare Creely, Project & Administration Officer at Filmbase to book a place. Clare can be contacted at or on 01-6796716.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

WGGB Awards 07

The Writers' Guild of Great Britain handed out its annual awards on Sunday night. Here are the winners:

Best Videogame Script: Dan Houser and Jacob Krarup - Canis Canem Edit
Best Radio Play: Steve Gooch - McNaughton
Best Original Drama (TV): Neil McKay - See No Evil: The Moors Murders
Best Soap / Series (TV): Chris Chibnall, Paul Cornell, Russell T. Davies, Stephen Greenhorn, Steven Moffat, Helen Raynor and Gareth Roberts - Doctor Who, Series 3
Best Comedy / Light Entertainment (TV): Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche - The Thick of It
Best Play (Theatre): Gregory Burke - Black Watch
Best Screenplay (Feature Film): Shane Meadows - This Is England
Other awards presented:
Outstanding Contribution to Children's Writing - J.K. Rowling
A Special Award from the Writers' Guild's Books Committee - Alan Brownjohn
The Edinburgh International Film Festival 2007, Best Screenplay Award, presented by the Writers' Guild and The List - Matt Greenhalgh (Control)
A Lifetime Achievement Award - Alan Plater

Monday 19 November 2007

Irish Off-Broadway

The New York Times features an article about Irish playwright, Abbie Spallen, and her forthcoming off-Broadway play, Pumpgirl.

Werner Discusses Film

The Times has an interesting interview with German writer/director Werner Herzog, about his latest film, Rescue Dawn, and his intense approach to filmmaking.

Friday 16 November 2007

Time to Write for Theatre

Charles Isherwood at the New York Times suggests that the striking TV writers in the USA should consider writing plays. His piece highlights how many popular TV writers began their careers as playwrights, and he suggests that now is the time for those writers to remember their roots and the benefits of writing for theatre.

There remains an intense hunger for new American voices in the theater. And I am sure that there are any number of comfortable but secretly discontented writers for television and movies who have a slush pile of abandoned ideas for plays sitting in a drawer, or on the hard drive of an old computer. The road back may be rough, but one of you might turn out to be the Bright New Hope of the American Theater.

Thursday 15 November 2007

History of the WGA

Phil Alden Robinson, screenwriter (Field of Dreams, Sneakers) and WGA Board Member, recounts the turning points in the Guild's history, leading up to the current strike. It illuminates the constant battle screenwriters have fought for compensation for their work.

A new factor about this strike is the WGA and writers are churning out a lot of videos. Maybe we'll see a new generation of writer-directors as a result.

Wednesday 14 November 2007

Catalyst 07 Picks Three

The Irish Film Board has announced the three finalists in the Catalystproject:

The successful teams are REDUX written and to be to be directed by PJ Dillon and produced by Alex Jones and John Wallace; ONE HUNDRED MORNINGS written and to be directed by Conor Horgan and produced by Louise Curran; and EAMON written and to be directed by Margaret Corkery and produced by Seamus Byrne. The three successful teams will get a €250,000 funding award. Each of the films are intended to be released theatrically in cinemas across Ireland and screened on TV3.

ONE HUNDRED MORNINGS is set in a remote rural hideaway, where two warring couples try to survive a world-changing threat. Director, Horgan previously directed the multi-award winning short film The Last Time aswell as a number of documentaries and over 70 commercials. Curran currently works for Octagon Films and her credits include Dorothy Mills, My Boy Jack and The Tudors.

Set in rural Ireland REDUX tells the story of a young wife and mother who becomes unsettled when a series of strange, unexplained events lead to the appearance of Karl, a friend from her past. PJ Dillon's credits include Kings, 32A and Timbuktu as Director of Photography credits. He has also directed three shorts and a number of commercials. Jones is a 2nd AD whose credits include Dorothy Mills and Rough Diamond. Wallace has produced TV show Standup for Childline and a number of short films including the multi-award wining film Jelly Belly.

The third project EAMON is a dark satirical family drama where a family go on a holiday to escape their problems. However, a week of relaxation becomes a fight for physical and emotional survival. Cork based director Corkery's low budget short films have screened at several major film festivals around the world including Berlin, Edinburgh and Clermont Ferrand. Producer Seamus Byrne has a vast experience in film working with directors such as John Boorman, John Huston, Robert Altman, Ron Howard and Neil Jordan.

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Why We Fight

The second video of the day is a straightforward examination of the issues behind the WGA strike, and why it is vital for American screenwriters to stand firm on their requests.

Voices of Uncertainty

I've noticed a lot of spin emerging about the WGA writers' strike, which is trying to paint the entertainment industry as broke and not making any money from "new media" (in Ireland that's known as the poor mouth gambit). Yet, as this video proves, this is not what the owners of the biggest media conglomerates in the world say when they're talking to people other than writers.

Monday 12 November 2007

O'Flanagan wins Bursary

IFTN reports that Irish screenwriter Mary Kate O'Flanagan has won the European Alliance for Television and Culture (EATC) Bursary Award. Tyrone Productions has optioned the idea for development.

Mary Kate's winning entry is a pilot of a detective series, featuring a young Chinese woman becoming a recruit in the Garda Siochana (the Irish police force). The story is inspired by the new Garda policy of recruiting from ethnic minorities.

Mary Kate O'Flanagan said: 'Like a lot of Irish people I've been an immigrant and find the collision of cultures a fascinating place to explore what makes us all individuals and what we have in common. And I think every one loves a good detective story.'

The award includes trips to Berlin and Geneva to workshop the idea with internationally renowned tutors. This will be the screenwriter's first foray into writing for television. She previously attended the television writing course run by FAS/Screen Training Ireland.

Broadway on Strike

Strike fever is hitting America. According to the BBC theatre stagehands are on strike on Broadway, New York, and have shut down over twenty plays and musicals. It's happening at the run-up to Christmas, which is traditionally the busiest time of the year for the industry.

The dispute has largely been over work rules that govern how many stagehands must be called for work, how long they work, and what kind of tasks they can perform.

The League of American Theatres and Producers wants more flexibility in those rules so as to avoid paying for workers who have nothing to do.

"Our goal is simple - to pay for workers we need and for work that is actually performed," Charlotte St Martin, executive director of the league said.

But the union says theatre owners have been unclear about what offsetting benefits stagehands can have in return.

Actor Patrick Page, star of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, said he supported the strike but hoped for an early settlement:

"These guys on strike over here are the backbone of Broadway. They are the guys who keep me safe, when I get hoisted up in the air in the show, they are the guys who put light on me, who make sure everything happens."

"I know that the Actors Equity Association really supports the guys at Local One, I am a member of the union and we all just want the shows to happen again," he said.

Saturday 10 November 2007

RIP Norman Mailer

According to the BBC the novelist, screenwriter, and playwright Norman Mailer has died of renal failure at the age of 84.

He once said: "With the pride of the artist, you must blow against the walls of every power that exists the small trumpet of your defiance."

Friday 9 November 2007

Council Seeks Funding

The Stage reports that the Irish Arts Council is seeking a €20m increase in funding next year, which will bring its annual state grant to €100m.

A total of 77 arts groups have submitted ambitious plans that would involve funding of almost €40m, but IAC director Mary Cloake said the council could use double the €20m increase it is seeking. "The taxpayer can be very confident the additional money will be very well spent," she said.

Among the projects seeking funding is Wexford Festival Opera spring season, plus resident dance and stage companies at its new Theatre Royal building. In addition, the council has to provide €10m for the Abbey Theatre as part of a special three-year funding arrangement.

The IAC presented its case for an increase at a briefing in Dublin this week, in advance of next month’s budget announcement by finance minister Brian Cowen. But the minister has warned already that, as the once-booming Irish economy slows, the government will have less money to spend.

At the briefing, IAC chairwoman Olive Braiden acknowledged the changed economic circumstances but said: "While public spending cuts may be necessary, it’s not an advisable approach for the arts, as the sector is so dependent on people, and needs increased current funding to fully find its feet at a sustainable level".

Thursday 8 November 2007

Foy Wins Horror Prize

IFTN reports that Ciarn Foy's short film, "The Faeries of Blackheath Woods", won the Best Horror award at the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival, which took place on the 2nd and 3rd November in Melbourne, Florida.

Tuesday 6 November 2007

ZeBBie Award Winners

At a wonderful event at the Sugar Club, which was wittily MCed by Senator David Norris, the 2007 ZeBBies were announced:

  • Honorary Award for Services to Writers: Anthony Cronin
  • Best TV Script: Ken Harmon for Legend (Ep. 1)
  • Best Film Script: John Carney for Once
  • Best Theatre Script: Tom Murphy for Alice Trilogy
  • Best Radio Script: Martin Lynch for An Enemy of the People

Monday 5 November 2007

Strike Blog

The WGA has established a blog called United Hollywood, which will follow the day-to-day business of the writers' strike in Hollywood.

Sunday 4 November 2007

WGA Picket Captains Speak

Hollywood screenwriters and WGA Contract/Picket Captains discuss why they are united with their Guilds in the forthcoming strike.

Support the Strike

The boards of both American Guilds (East and West) have officially accepted the recommendation of their negotiating committee and approved a strike of their members against the member companies of the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers commencing at 12.01am on Monday morning the 5th November 2007 (8.01am our time).

The Chairperson of Irish Playwrights & Screenwriters Guild, Audrey O'Reilly, has written to the Chairs of both American Guilds expressing the Guild's complete support for its colleagues in the United States and its admiration of their determined fight for principles that are essential to all writers, not just the members of the American guild. As you will know from the media the position adopted by the producers in their negotiations with the Guild was extraordinarily aggressive from the beginning. Their intention is clearly to ensure that income from internet distribution will not be shared with the creators of the content that they distribute.

This issue is remote from the day to day life of most writers but in fact it is the key issue for the future. We are fortunate to have the Writers Guild of America so determinedly fighting for this base-line principle on behalf of all writers.

The IPSG is a member of the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds. The members of the IAWG have agreed "To the greatest extent permitted by contract and law to honor work stoppages, publicize information about work stoppages to their respective memberships, and to lend all aid possible to each other in support of negotiating goals."

Consequently the IPSG requests members of the Irish Guild, and Irish writers in general, not to accept work from any member companies of the AMPTP for the duration of the strike.

Members of the IPSG and Irish writers in general should be aware of Rule 13 of the WGA Strike Rules which states:

"The Guild (WGA) does not have the authority to discipline non members for strike breaking and/or scab writing. However, the Guild can and will bar that writer from future Guild membership. This policy has been strictly enforced in the past and has resulted in convincing many would be strike breakers to refrain from seriously harming the Guild and its members during a strike."
As Bernie Corbett, General Secretary of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain put it in a statement to British writers: "Strikebreaking would have a devastating long-term effect on a writers' US career."

How can you help? We will be distributing a letter for signature at the ZeBBie awards on Tuesday which you can sign. As the strike progresses we may also be seeking your support for our American colleagues fight in other ways.

Success for the Writers Guild of America is a prerequisite for us to be able eventually to share in the economic life of the content we create. A victory for them will be a victory for us.

Any member of the IPSG with a specific question should contact David Kavanagh at the Guild office.

Friday 2 November 2007

Strike Monday in Hollywood

The New York Times reports that unless a deal is struck over the weekend Hollywood screenwriters will be on strike as of Monday.

The leaders of the Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East were expected to order their roughly 12,000 members covered by a contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to stop work and be assigned picket duty when the strike begins.

The strike call follows more than three months of contentious negotiations. Ultimately, the two sides gridlocked over the writers’ insistence on a sharp increase in their residuals payments for the re-use of movies and shows on DVDs and on new payments for the distribution of such works on the Internet, over cell phones and elsewhere. Producers refused to boost the DVD payments and rebuffed demands related to electronic distribution, arguing that industry economics and still-shifting technology made accommodation impossible.

Wednesday 31 October 2007

Call for TG4 Scripts

TG4 and Dearg Films are looking for scripts in Irish for their forthcoming TV series Seomra a Sé, which will be broadcast live in March 2008.

The series will entail four half-hour dramas in any genre, which will be set in a hotel suite: number six of course. This means that each 25-minute script needs to be written in Irish, suitable for a live performance, and has to remain within the confines of a hotel suite that has a bedroom, living area, bathroom and bar.

The closing date for application is December 14, 2007.

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Writers' Heroes

An amusing video that indicates what some Hollywood writers might be doing come November 1st.

Monday 29 October 2007

Six For Consideration

The run-up to awards season in Hollywood has started with all the "For Your Consideration" adverts in the glossy trade magazines.

This year, Universal Studios is making the screenplays of six of its films available to download. Which is very nice if you like to read other writers' scripts. Enjoy:

Last Chance to Vote

Members of the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild are reminded that they only have five hours left before voting closes on this year's ZeBBie Awards.

Login and cast your vote now for the best Irish writing for film, radio, television and theatre in 2007.

Thursday 25 October 2007

Catalyst Shortlist

The shortlist for the Catalyst programme has been announced. The ten projects now face an interview process to be whittled down to three. The shortlist is:

  • Standby, written by Pierce Ryan
  • The Sound Here, written by Rebecca Daly and Glenn Montgomery
  • Redux, written by PJ Dillon
  • Snap, written by Carmel Winters
  • Still Life, written by Mark Tuthill
  • Swallows, written by John O'Donnell
  • One Hundred Mornings, written by Conor Horgan
  • Earthbound, written by Alan Brennan
  • One Hundred To One Outsiders, written by Ken Wardrop
  • Eamon, written by Margaret Corkery
More details about the projects are on the Film Board web site.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

June 07 Filmbase Shortlist

The shortlist from the June 2007 application round for the Filmbase/RTÉ Short Film Award 2007 has been announced:

Happy Hour by Patrick Chapman, Take Me With You by Aaron O'Reilly, The Elusive Punch Line by Colin Corrigan, O Blessed Water by Morgan Bushe, Mitching by Michelle Fennessy, Tart by Martín de Barra, Man Befriends Corpse and Tree Story by Pete Moles, Matched by Eamon Quinlan, and Nightclubbing by Carol Murphy.
The three winners will be announced in mid-November on the Filmbase web site.

Weekend of Horror

Director John Carpenter discusses horror films over on Entertainment Weekly.

Those of you looking for a horror film fix over the upcoming bank holiday should attend the Horrorthon, in the IFI in Dublin, from October 25th- 29th. If you don't want to indulge in scary movies all weekend you could always drop into the 6th Dublin Electronic Arts Festival, which is taking place in St. Audoen's church, in Cornmarket on High Street.

Once and Murphy Nominated

IFTN reports that John Carney's low budget film Once has been short-listed for the Best Foreign Independent Feature in the 10th Annual British Independent Film Awards. Cillian Murphy is also among the nominees for the Best Actor award for his performance in the sci-fi film Sunshine.

Tuesday 23 October 2007

New Schemes from IFB

Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB) has pledged €1 million to a new project aimed at encouraging a variety of new short film schemes.

The Signatures scheme will be the flagship scheme showcasing live action filmmaking, encouraging strong, original storytelling, visual flair and production values appropriate to the big screen. The scheme will fund up to 6 live-action, fiction films with a maximum budget of €90,000 each per year. These shorts will act as a proving-ground for Irish creative talents aspiring to write, direct and produce films for the cinema and will offer an opportunity to work in a professional environment and bring their experience up to the next level. Filmmakers on this scheme will also offer invaluable chance to work closely with an experienced mentor from the Irish film industry.

Reality Bites is a new short documentary scheme which will fund up to 3 films with a maximum budget of €20,000 each per year. It aims to encourage experimentation and realisation of fresh approaches to non-fiction filmmaking, whether the documentary is journalistic or creative, observational or aesthetic, objective or personal.

The Virtual Cinema scheme aims to encourage cinema for the You-Tube generation by funding up to 10 high quality shorts per year which are suitable for viewing across multi-platforms. The films which can be live-action or use any kind of animation technique as there are no creative holds barred, will be maximum two minutes in duration. These films will be launched exclusively for an online audience.

As well as the brand new shorts, the established and successful Short Shorts film scheme has been modified. This scheme, which funds up to seven, 3-5 minute films per year aims to encourage the making of films which are innovative, provocative or idiosyncratic in their content or style or both. The shorts, whether live-action or animated films should now ‘tell a story' within a particular genre chosen for that year- e.g. love story, thriller, musical, horror etc. It is hoped that having the shorts packaged together under a specific theme or genre will allow the IFB to market the Short Shorts more effectively.

The Frameworks animation scheme, co-funded by the Arts Council, RTE and the IFB will continue in its current successful format.

Films commissioned under the Signatures and Reality Bites schemes will be launched at the Cork Film Festival next year.

The deadline for applications for Signatures and Reality Bites is December 14th.
More details about these new schemes should be available on the website later today.

Monday 22 October 2007

Lumet Discusses Film

There's an interesting interview in The New York Times with lauded film director Sidney Lumet, who has made 44 feature films during a career that has so far stretched fifty years.

Paddywhackery On Weds

Filmbase alerts us to the fact that the new bilingual six-part comedy drama series, Paddywhackery, will air on TG4 on Wednesday, October 24th at 9.30pm.

Funded by TG4, the Sound & Vision Scheme of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and Section 481 funding, Paddywhackery was co-written by Daniel O'Hara and Paddy C Courtney, with Dough Productions' Grainne O'Carroll producing and Daniel O'Hara directing.

Director and co-writer Daniel O'Hara said, "People think the Irish language is all about Aran jumpers and Peig Sayers, but we wanted to make something that was relevant to and entertaining for an audience that doesn't necessarily speak Irish. I don't think that people have seen anything like this before on Irish television. There's a surreal quality to it and a sense of humour which is original. Because we've been lucky enough to have big stars like Fionnuala Flanagan and Frank Kelly on board I hope that results in people checking it out. I'm quite confident that if people have a look they'll want to see more."

Writers Vote to Strike

The LA Times reports that 90% of the members of the Writers Guilds of America have voted to strike if a new contract can't be negotiated with the major studio before it expires on October 31st. It's a record response from the 12,000-strong membership.

Writers have rallied behind a theme that might best be summed up by the Who's hit song "Won't Get Fooled Again." Writers maintain they were shortchanged years ago when they agreed to a discounted pay formula for home video sales, only to see that business take off. And they're determined not to make the same mistake again as the digital revolution upends the entertainment industry.

"The guild made a bad deal 20 years ago and they've been angry ever since and they don't want to do it again," said Jonathan Handel, an entertainment industry attorney with TroyGould in Los Angeles and a former associate counsel for the Writers Guild. "That's why we're seeing a line drawn in the sand."

For their part, the studios maintain that DVD sales are needed to offset rising marketing and production costs, and they contend that it's too early to lock into pay formulas for shows distributed online because technologies are rapidly changing and they're still grappling with uncertain business models.

Friday 19 October 2007

Arts Grants Issued

The Stage reports that the Arts Council has announced grants of more than €1.25 million to 23 of the country’s theatre, opera and circus companies, organisations and venues as part of a €5 million package to 114 arts bodies awarded under a newly instituted Annual Programming Grant scheme.

Among the major beneficiaries are Cork Opera House, which is to receive €200,000, the Civic Theatre, Tallaght (€160,000) and the Cork-based Opera 2005 company (€110,000).

Dublin theatre companies Loose Cannon and Hatch are to receive €98,000 and €75,000 respectively, and Waterford's Theatre Royal €80,000. Four circus companies will share more than €210,000 with the lion’s share of €75,000 going to Tom Duffy's Circus.

Among the other recipients, Galway's Chrysalis Dance has been awarded €16,780 with two national bodies, the Drama League of Ireland (€57,000) and the Association of Irish Stage Technicians (€16,000), to receive five-figure awards.

Thursday 18 October 2007

4th Lasair Award Launched

Filmbase and TG4 have announced the deadline for the 4th round of Lasair, the award scheme for short films made in the Irish language.

Up to six films will be produced, and the fund has been doubled so that there is €20,000 available per film.

Dramas, animation and other fictional work in Irish or Irish/English are welcome, and should be shot on DVCam and finished for TV broadcast. Submissions should include the application form, which can be downloaded from the Filmbase web site. The deadline for receipt of applications is 5pm, Monday 19th of November.

The aim of Lasair is to encourage emerging filmmakers to express their creativity through the development of imaginative short films. Since it was launched in 2001, it has led to the production of 17 Irish language short films in a range of genres. Films made through the scheme include James Finlan's black and white film noir spoof Éireville, Declan de Barra's animation An Fiach Dubh and Colm Bairéad's poignant drama Mac an Athar. Audiences will be familiar with the 2003 hit Yu Ming is Ainm Dom which was also made under the scheme. This short, directed by Daniel O'Hara, has screened worldwide and has scooped numerous awards at festivals including the Aspen Shortsfest (2004), Galway Film Fleadh (2003) and the Celtic Film and Television Festival (2004).

Director O'Hara has acknowledged that "the Lasair scheme gave me my first opportunity to direct drama with Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom and it was an important stepping stone to TV drama work like The Clinic and Paddywhackery. Without the Filmbase schemes it would be very difficult for young crews to raise the budget to make a short film. It's an invaluable learning experience, as well as a chance to show what you can do."

Wednesday 17 October 2007

YouTube Will Filter Content

According to The Guardian YouTube has unveiled filtering tools that will allow owners of copyrighted material to block their content from appearing on the video-sharing website.

"We are delighted that Google appears to be stepping up to its responsibility and end the practice of infringement," said a lawyer for Viacom, Mike Fricklas, without specifying whether the new technology would affect the seven-month-old lawsuit, which will be examined by a US court later this month.

YouTube has been working on the new technology with engineers from Google ever since the latter bought it in a record $1.7bn (£835m) deal 11 months ago. Five months later, executives from both companies began promising the new copyright protection technology. "It has taken until now to get it right," said David King, a YouTube product manager, during a conference call with reporters yesterday.

USA Writers' Residuals Secure

Reuters reports the studio executives dropped a proposal to overhaul residual payments during the writers' contract negotiations in Hollywood yesterday.

"In the overriding interest of keeping the industry working and removing what has become an emotional impediment and excuse by the WGA not to bargain, the (studio negotiating team) withdrew its recoupment proposal," said Nick Counter, head of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

But he added that the studios and networks would stand firm against demands by the union to increase residual payments for DVDs, pay television, basic cable or reruns on two fledgling broadcast networks, the CW and My Network TV.

Higher residuals for DVDs has been a major demand of the guild, along with greater compensation for writers whose work is distributed through the Internet and other digital platforms. Residuals for various kinds of digital media were not explicitly mentioned in the studios' statement.

The WGA said it welcomed the studios' move to withdraw the new plan, but maintained its resolve to press forward on the other issues. "The remaining rollbacks would gut our contract and will never be acceptable to writers," the guild said in a statement.

Tuesday 16 October 2007

Growing Film Industry in Bhutan

The New York Times has a fascinating article about the burgeoning film industry in the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan. Tshering Penjore is now a full-time screenwriter (he wrote seven scripts in the pat twelve months), and yet a year ago he was aide de camp to Bhutan's crown prince.

Mr. Penjore's story is typical of the growing film industry in Bhutan, which until very recently had closed itself off, by choice, from the rest of the world. Last year a record 24 films were produced in the tiny Himalayan kingdom, population 700,000; in 2003 the total was only six. (India, by comparison, made more than 1,000 movies last year.) The only theater in Bhutan's capital city, Thimpu, is booked for the next nine months.

Budget constraints force filmmakers to use digital technology instead of film stock, and most of the players are self-taught. But directors are churning out movies at the dizzying pace of four a year. Sixty production companies are now registered with the Motion Picture Association of Bhutan.
There are only six theatres in the country that can screen films, therefore only films made in Bhutan are shown due to fierce demand. Films that follow the Bollywood formula are popular, and films that take a mimetic approach are less appreciated in Bhutan. In 1999 the revered Buddhist lama, Khyentse Norbu, created the country's first film, Phörpa (The Cup), and followed it in 2003 with Travellers and Magicians, which jump-started the film industry in Bhutan.

Indian Oscar Controversy

According to The Globe and Mail India may not put forward any films for an Oscar in the foreign film category this year due to alleged bias in the selection process.

The Bombay High Court has asked the federation to respond to a lawsuit challenging the selection of well-known filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Eklavya: The Royal Guard.

First-time director Bhavna Talwar filed a petition claiming one panelist on the 11-member jury had edited a promotional short film for Eklavya, and that two other jury members were also close to Chopra.

Talwar's Dharm was passed over for Eklavya, a thriller starring Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requires an entry in the foreign film category by Wednesday, and it seems unlikely the controversy will be resolved by then.

Monday 15 October 2007

Foy Wins Short Film Award

The winner of the 2007 Diversions Short Film Award has been announced as "The Faeries of Blackheath Woods", which was written and directed by Ciarán Foy. The Award is organised by Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT) as part of the Diversions Festival, Temple Bar's free outdoor festival.

Ciarán has won a €5000 cash prize from TBCT and studio time at Filmbase worth an additional €5000. According to Ciarán, "Needless to say I'm truly delighted to win. Now I can finally afford another print! Diversions is a unique festival and there's a fantastic buzz seeing your film on an outdoor screen with a public audience. People seem to really respond to this little horror film and that's really the biggest compliment,"

The Faeries of Blackheath Woods, is Ciarán's first film since graduating from the National Film School of Ireland. The film, shot on the Powerscourt Estate, follows a young girl's bewitching encounter with faeries and discovery that they are not as sweet and kind as folklore would depict.

Alan Fitzpatrick of Filmbase commented, "In The Faeries of Blackheath Woods director, Ciarán Foy, set out to create an ambitious piece of short cinema. The result is a stunningly well realised and artistically crafted film which delights, enchants and surprises in equal measure. Ciarán displayed real talent and technical accomplishment in Faeries, marking himself as a director to watch in the future." 12 films were short-listed for the award and were screened at the famous Meeting House Square, preceding the Jameson Movies on the Square presentation.

The Archers Online

The Stage notes that the BBC Radio 4 long-running drama, The Archers, is now available as a podcast from the BBC web site.

The new service follows on from the success The Archers has had with listeners accessing it on the internet. Around a million people currently use the Corporation’s online listen again service each month to catch the latest developments.

Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer said: "The Archers' audience has already demonstrated that it loves the chance to listen to the goings on in Ambridge in its own time. Now The Archers meets podcasting - a marriage, or civil partnership, between one of Radio 4's longest-lasting hits and new technology."

Friday 12 October 2007

ZeBBies short-list announced

The short-list for the inaugural ZeBBies has been announced (Thank you to all the Guild members who submitted nominations.)

Nominees for Best TV Script:

Louise Ní Fhiannachta for Ros na Rún (Ser. 11, Ep. 51)
Ken Harmon for Legend (Ep. 1)
Lauren McKenzie for The Clinic (Ep. 1)

Nominees for Best Radio Script:

Veronica Coburn for Mayday
Martin Lynch for An Enemy of the People
Jean Pasley for Haymaker

Nominees for Best Film Script:

John Carney for Once
David Gleeson for The Front Line
Niall Heery for Small Engine Repair

Nominees for Best Theatre Script:

Sean McLoughlin for Noah and the Tower Flower
Tom Murphy for Alice Trilogy
Mark O'Rowe for Terminus
Gavin Quinn and Simon Doyle for Oedipus Loves You

Guild members will be able to log in to read the scripts and vote for best television script; best radio script; best film script and best theatre script.

Voting will close on Monday 29th October at 5.00pm.

The ceremony will take place on Tuesday 6th November in the Sugar Club in Dublin. Tickets for this event will be on sale from next Monday.

The Guild would like to thank the various agents, producers, broadcasters, publishers, but above all the nominees, for their assistance.

Festival Rakes It In

According to The Stage the Dublin Theatre Festival has already taken in excess of €1 million at the box office during its 50th anniversary run.

The history-making figure represents an increase of more than 30% on last year’s festival and has been reached with several days to go before this year’s final performances on Sunday.

The significantly expanded 2007 programme launched on September 27 and has featured 221 performances of 33 shows from 13 countries.

Welcoming the news, recently arrived artistic director and chief executive Loughlin Deegan said: "Crashing through the one million target is a momentous achievement for the festival and it is fitting that we reached this milestone in our anniversary year".

Thursday 11 October 2007

Free Professional Feedback

MEDIA Northern Ireland has announced the arrival of SOURCES 2 to Northern Ireland, which is one of the premier professional hothouses for developing feature screenplays in Europe, having led to the production of 65 feature films with 20 more presently in pre-production.

MEDIA Service NI will be bringing SOURCES 2 principal advisor and script editor Gaby Prekop to provide intensive one-to-one consultancy sessions with at least four local feature film or single TV drama projects, providing both an insight to the work of SOURCES 2 and the potential of the projects participating in this mini-SOURCES 2 event in Belfast.

The sessions are open to screenwriters or teams of screenwriters, co-writers, producers and directors. They will be offered full and frank feedback on the potential strengths and weaknesses of each project and professional advice on how to proceed from a neutral, third party and highly respected script consultant.

Gaby Prekop is a screenwriter, script editor and development consultant particularly known for her work with award-winning filmmaker Istvan Szabo. She has worked on European Film Academy Best Screenplay award-winners Sunshine and Dear Bobe, also a winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlinale. She has also consulted on the films Being Julia, Taking Sides and Meeting Venus having begun her career as a Commissioning Editor for drama at Hungarian television where she worked on over 30 film and television plays.
Application forms to book a session are available to download from the web site, and the closing date for submissions is October 31st 2007. The consultancy sessions will take place in two-hour slots over the 29th and 30th November. This opportunity is provided free-of-charge by MEDIA NI.

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Broadway Might Go Dark

Broadway is on the verge of being shut down due to a strike, according to The New York Times.

After two and a half months of sometimes contentious contract negotiations, the organization representing most of Broadway's producers and theater owners and the union representing stagehands are at an impasse, bringing most of Broadway to the

At 7 p.m. yesterday, the League of American Theaters and Producers put what it called its final offer on the table; three hours later, Local One, the stagehands' union, gave the league a final offer in response.

In a statement, Charlotte St. Martin, the executive director of the league, said the response "made no progress on any of the issues we have identified as crucial to these negotiations. In fact, the union's offer has made the situation worse for all productions."

The announcement of a final offer is one of the last steps before a bargaining group can call a work stoppage, which, in this case, would mean the theater owners' locking out the stagehands and leaving most Broadway theaters dark. As of now, there are no more negotiating sessions scheduled, and a lockout is highly likely.

Tuesday 9 October 2007

Once Wins Awards

IFTN reports that Once, the Irish musical written and directed by John Carney won the Best International Film award at the 14th Raindance Film Festival, in London (25 September – 7 October).

The awards were presented by festival founder Elliot Grove and festival producer Jesse Vile on the closing night of the festival, which this year received more than 15,000 admissions.

The film also received a special jury mention at the 18th British Film Festival which took place in Dinard, France from the 4th-7th October.

Monday 8 October 2007

Two Interviews

Looking for a diversion on a Monday morning? The New York Times has an interview with Harold Pinter, while The Guardian interviews David Cronenberg.

Irish Actor Dies

RTÉ reports that Irish actor Tom Murphy has died.

In 1998 he won a Tony Award for his role in the Druid Theatre Company production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane. He also appeared in Adam and Paul, Man About Dog, Intermission, Small Engine Repair and the RTÉ Television series Pure Mule.

Paying tribute, Druid's Artistic Director Garry Hynes said: "All of us in Druid are terribly saddened by the premature death of Tom Murphy. Tom won a Tony Award on Broadway for his wonderful portrayal of 'Ray Dooley' in Martin McDonagh's 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane'. A wonderful colleague and friend, he will be much missed by his many friends in the film and theatre business."

Friday 5 October 2007

Festival Portal

Those following the Dublin Theatre Festival might be interested to know that RTÉ has created a portal web site for the event, which includes reviews, video clips, and schedule information.

Spotlight on Cork

The Cork Film Festival (14th -21st October) has announced its opening and closing films and offered a glimpse at the rest of the line-up. The festival opens with the Coen brother's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy novel No Country for Old Men and closes with the new Ang Lee film Lust, Caution, which was written by James Schamus and Hui-Ling Wang, based on a story by Eileen Chang.

Also on the programme are drive-in movies, short films, documentaries, family screenings, and a selection of Algerian films.

American director John Dahl (Rounders, The Last Seduction) will be interviewed in public at the festival, and will attend the screening of his new film You Kill Me (written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely).

Thursday 4 October 2007

Pilot Competition

Channel 4 has announced a new competition called Pilot, which is looking for treatments for a six-part drama series, an outline for a pilot episode for that series, and a script for a sample scene from that episode.

12 writers will be selected to take part in a packed weekend of industry workshops and masterclasses. They will then be hot-housed in one of three Scottish independent production companies, where mentoring producers and Channel 4 script editors will help them develop their series idea and complete a first draft script. After eight weeks of paid training, each writer will pitch to a selection panel. Only one idea from each production team will be selected. These three writers, along with their producers, will hotfoot it down to Channel 4's HQ in London to pitch to 4Talent and the Channel's Commissioning Editor for Drama, Sophie Gardiner.

One creative team will head home with a £90,000 commission to produce a pilot episode of their drama series, including a fee for the winning writer to complete a final draft script.

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Crowmwell Q&A

This weekend the IFI in Dublin starts their "From Stage to Screen" mini-festival, which kicks off on Saturday with a showing of L.A. Confidential and an interview afterwards with actor James Cromwell, who is currently appearing in the Druid's production of Long Day's Journey into Night.

USA Guilds Get Serious

The New York Times reports that Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East have indeed petitioned their members via email to authorise to strike at "the most advantageous moment" after their current contract ends October 31st.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

IFB Fund Supported

According to Screen Daily the Irish Minister for Arts, Sport & Tourism, Seamus Brennan, has agreed to an additional funding of €2 million for the Irish Film Board's International Production Fund, which has attracted more than €60 million worth of production into Ireland over the past two years.

Making the announcement the minister said, "There is now more than ever greater global competition in securing film and television production. Ireland holds its own thanks to our talent pool and incentives. In the short term, this additional 2 million will allow the Film Board to go aggressively into the market and seek to secure further prestigious projects over the coming months. Our target must be to match, or even surpass, the achievements last year when a similar 2 million investment towards the end of 2006 delivered film and TV production activity in Ireland that amounted to 32 million."

Alluding to the current review of Ireland's international competitiveness the minister further pledged that he will work with the Irish Film Board and others to shape policies and incentives that will allow Ireland tap further into international investment in film and television production.

Lynch is Honoured

The BBC reports that American film-maker David Lynch has been awarded France's top civilian honour, the Legion d'Honneur.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed his eclectic "genius". Lynch replied in halting French: "My French is poor, but my heart is rich today thanks to you."

Monday 1 October 2007

DruidSynge on DVD

According to IFTN a new DVD financed by RTÉ, The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, Culture Ireland, The Irish Film Board and The Arts Council/An Comhairle Ealaíon will be launched in Dublin today.

The DVD, entitled 'DruidSynge: The Plays of John Millington Synge', features all six of Synge's plays as performed by Druid: 'The Playboy of the Western World', 'The Tinker's Wedding', 'Well of the Saints', 'Riders to the Sea', 'Deirdre of the Sorrows' and 'The Shadow of the Glen'.

In addition to the six plays, the DVD contains two documentaries: 'Mighty Talk: A Journey with DruidSynge' - an access-all-areas documentary following the rehearsal and production process of putting the project on stage, and 'Playboy and Rebels' which commemorates the one hundredth anniversary of the first ever performance of 'The Playboy of the Western World' in January 1907.

The DVD also features director Garry Hynes and world-leading Synge expert, Ann Saddlemyer, in conversation about DruidSynge and the impact of Synge generally which was recorded at the Synge Summer School in Wicklow in July 2007.

Contract Deadline Looms

The New York Times reports that with just a month to go before screenwriting contracts in the USA expire the Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East have been examining the option of striking in November, when some scripts will still be in development.

As many as three-quarters of those pictures -- including projects as prominent as "The Justice League of America" at Warner Brothers and "Another Night," the proposed sequel to "Night at the Museum," at 20th Century Fox -- appear not to have final scripts.

The question at hand is whether writers, in the event no deal is reached, can inflict maximum damage on their bargaining opponents by striking immediately rather than continuing to work and letting the studios add those films to their strike stockpile.

Negotiators for the guilds and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios and networks, are scheduled to meet again on Thursday. Guild negotiators could ask their 12,000 members for strike authorization in advance of the contract’s expiration. And they appear to be gathering information that would support a call for a walkout in November, rather than later, when the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America will also be in talks.

Friday 28 September 2007

The Rise of Online Content

The LA Times has a very interesting article about now Hollywood studios are branching into creating online content, and establishing small digital houses to write and create this work. The web content is not being completed with writers, cast, or crew that are being paid Union rates, so this is causing tension between the studios and the Unions in the USA.

"The more it looks like television is migrating to the Internet, the more important it is for us to ensure that writers are covered under a writers guild contract," said Patric Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West. "We certainly don't want to get left behind the way we were with cable television, reality TV and animation."

Network executives are loath to further inflame the issue by discussing it publicly. Privately, however, several studio and network executives said they were not trying to circumvent the unions but instead attempting to adapt to a changing landscape in which entertainment plays out on multiple screens.

Many likened their situation to being in a vise grip, squeezed on one side by advertisers and fans demanding more online entertainment while pressured on the other side by guild officials who insist that ground rules be established first.

"It's something that our viewers are demanding," said one television executive, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. "We are doing a disservice to them by not providing it. We are going to provide it to them one way or the other."

Thursday 27 September 2007

90-second Drama

The first of four 90-second dramas, collectively called Limelight, written by Irish playwrights Hugh Leonard, Patrick McCabe, Frank McGuinness and Tom Murphy, will air tonight on RTÉ One after the 9pm news.

The plays were directed by Shimmy Marcus, produced by David Blake Knox of Blueprint Pictures, and were shot on location in Dublin's Gaiety and Gate theatres. The series is a promotion for the 50th Dublin Theatre Festival, which opens today.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Radio Nominations Open

The Guild Awards Committee has decided that the volume of nominations for the ZeBBie for best radio script is not large enough to make a definitive shortlist. Accordingly the date for receipt of nominations has been extended to 5.00pm on Monday 1st October.

If you have not made a nomination for best radio script you are invited to do so now. Please examine the list on the Guild web site and make your choice.

The shortlist for the ZeBBies will be announced on Monday 8th October and will be available for reading and voting.

Tickets for the awards ceremony, which will take place on Tuesday November 6th, will be available from the week of Monday, 8th October.

Venezuelan Films

The Associated Press reports that last year President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela established a state-run film studio, called Cinema Villa, to create a new era of local cinema.

The first film is about a controversial subject: Luis Posada Carriles, the former CIA operative who allegedly masterminded a jetliner bombing and attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro. The director, Eduardo Barberena, claims he did not get any pressure from the Chavaz government to tell the story in a particular way.

Barberena, who has mostly made TV commercials, sees Cinema Villa as a chance for Venezuela to expand a tiny movie industry -- which has made only a few internationally known movies, such as "El Pez que Fuma" (The Smoking Fish) in 1977 and "Secuestro Express" (Express Kidnapping) in 2005.

Three dozen feature films, documentaries and TV programs are now in production at the center, according to Culture Minister Francisco Sesto. They include "Imagining Revolution," about the development of Chavez's socialist movement, and "Venezuela Petroleum Company," about corporate exploitation.

The new film center is both financed and controlled by the government, similar to how Cuba runs its Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry. Scripts are selected by a committee that includes Venezuela's culture minister, who reports directly to Chavez.
This initiative by Chavaz is drawing fire for being propagandist from some quarters who suspect that the art will come second to the message. The audience will have its chance to judge once the films are released.

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Miranda gets Frank

The Guardian reports that American writer, playwright, performance artist, and film-maker Miranda July won the 2007 Frank O'Connor award this weekend for her collection of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You.

Miranda wins €35,000, and the accolades of the jury.

The chairman of the judges, Pat Cotter, who had earlier defended the shortlist as a demonstration of the judges' independence, hailed Miranda July as a worthy winner.

"The award has been won by a book of original genius," he said, "a book which we believe will endure for a long time."

Perhaps, as the daughter of two Californian writers, it was only a matter of time before July turned her talents to fiction. Born in 1974, she began working as a playwright, adding music and video to create a style of multimedia performance she describes as "live movie". Her first feature-length film, the quirky romance Me and You and Everyone We Know, won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival and four prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Caméra d'Or.

No One Belongs Here More Than You is a collection full of a similar type of fantasy, but underpinned with a new toughness, an awareness of the real world that underlies the characters' rich inner lives.

Monday 24 September 2007

Festivals Ahoy

The Aspects of Irish Literature Festival will take place from the 26th of September - 30 of September in the North Down Museum in Bangor. It features readings, workshops, recitals, and discussions by Irish writers. Culture Northern Ireland will broadcast podcasts from the festival.

Also coming up is the 50th Dublin Theatre Festival, which runs from September 27 - October 14th, and will showcase a diverse range of theatre from international and Irish playwrights.

Knockout for Mahon

RTÉ reports that the Irish film Strength and Honour has won Best Picture and Best Actor (Michael Madsen) awards at the Boston Film Festival - the first time both awards have gone to the same feature in the festival's history.

Written and directed by Cork filmmaker Mark Mahon, 'Strength and Honour' tells the story of an Irish-American boxer (Madsen) who promised his late wife he would never fight again having killed his friend in the ring.

However, when he discovers that his only son is dying of the same hereditary heart disorder that killed his wife, he is forced to go back on his promise and become a bare knuckle boxer in order to raise money for the boy's life-saving surgery.

The film was shot in Cork over seven weeks last autumn and also stars Patrick Bergin, Richard Chamberlain and Vinnie Jones.

Commenting on his film's festival success, director Mahon said: "This is a great honour. To win top awards at such a prestigious festival is surreal - competition was fierce this year with a large number of high profile titles competing."

Friday 21 September 2007

The Dream is Over

The LA Times reports that two years into the deal where Paramount bought out Dream Works SKG Steven Spielberg and David Geffen are not pleased with how the partnership is developing.

Smarting from seller's remorse, the DreamWorks principals are expected to bolt late next year. Geffen has been telling people in Hollywood that he and Spielberg would look for a new backer and studio home as soon as they are free to do so.

Geffen plans to exercise an out in his contract that frees him to leave next year. If he exits, Spielberg has the right to follow him out the door. Stacey Snider, who runs DreamWorks, can walk if Spielberg departs.

Any breakup is sure to be messy for both sides. Spielberg is knee-deep in movie productions at the Melrose Avenue studio. He and his DreamWorks partners would be forced to leave behind hundreds of projects, including a planned movie version of Alice Sebold's bestseller, "The Lovely Bones," to be directed by Peter Jackson of "The Lord of the Rings" fame. Spielberg pursued that property for many years. They would also abandon key executives at DreamWorks as well as those they installed in senior positions at Paramount. .
I'm sure this news article is causing concern among producers and writers who have projects lined up in Paramount.

Final Call

Today is the last day for members of the IPSG to nominate work for the ZeBBies, the inaugural awards by the Guild that celebrate the best work in film, radio, television and theatre by Irish writers.

Each Guild member can nominate one project from each of the four categories. Nominations close today, at 5pm.

The short-list of nominations will be announced on Monday, the 8th of October.

Thursday 20 September 2007

Travelling Shorts

IFTN reports that the 10th Annual Manhattan Short Film Festival will be travelling to Galway and Cork in the coming weeks as part of its world-wide journey to find the best film among its twelve finalists, which were selected from 456 entries received from 33 countries.

The short film festival will screen at the Town Hall Theatre, Galway, on Sunday, September 30th at 3 pm, and the Cork Film Centre, Cork City on Sunday, September 30th at 8 pm. Tickets cost €7. It will be the end of a week-long tour of countries from as far apart as St. Petersburg, Russia and Buenos Aires, Argentina. 50,00 people are expected to see the films.

Filmgoers at every event are asked to vote for one film. The votes are forwarded to the festival's headquarters where the winner will be announced at Union Square Park (NYC) on Sunday, September 30th at 9:15 pm. and posted on the web site by 10 pm.