Friday 29 June 2007

MySpace vs YouTube

The Guardian reports that MySpace is relaunching its video section as a separate web domain (, in a bid to usurp YouTube's dominion of online video-sharing.

"User generated videos are enormously popular but so are professionally created clips," said Mr Berman [MySpace GM for video]. "We want to create a destination for casual consumers who want to watch say one or two videos and film-makers who may want to be the next Steven Spielberg."

Mr Berman said MySpace would continue innovative promotions such as My Movie Mash Up, a competition that allows budding film-makers in Britain to submit content in the hope of winning a £1m-plus budget. Judges include actress Sienna Miller.

Last week MySpace signed a deal with Sony for its "minisodes" - five-minute clips of 80s comedies such as Silver Spoons and Diff'rent Strokes.

Thursday 28 June 2007

Hollywood Battens Hatches

The New York Times has an interesting article on the knock-on effects of the upcoming industry contract negotiations in Hollywood.

Not only are the writers' contracts up for renewal in October, but the actors' and directors' contracts are up for negotiation the following June. Considering the long lead-in prep time needed to make a film, most studios are currently scrambling to lock their actors and directors into filming schedules that will complete by the beginning of next summer.

Since studios are banking scripts (especially on TV shows) in advance of October, this means that the push for work will expire at the end of the year and herald lean times. It will be followed by a quiet summer in Hollywood.

"What we're seeing is a stockpiling" of dramatic episodes and an increase in strike-resistant reality programming, said Steven Katleman, a lawyer with the Greenberg Traurig firm, which represents a number of television actors, writers and producers. Mr. Katleman pointed, for instance, to a recent outsize order for 30 episodes of the NBC series "Heroes."

The studios' eagerness to book films that will be seen in late 2008 or the summer of 2009 has been particularly intense, given the unusual alignment of contract expirations and a broad expectation that writers and actors are bent on playing hardball on issues related to compensation for new forms of digital distribution.

"It's a pretty lethal combination," said Jack Kyser, senior vice president and chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. Whether or not a real walkout occurs, Mr. Kyser said, the insistence that no film or television show be scheduled to shoot after next June will almost certainly cause a "de facto" strike.
Another side-effect of this situation is the prediction by a Hollywood pundit that next year there will be little action from Hollywood financiers at Cannes.

Grand Films

Over the next three days The Guardian will publish online the full list of its 1,000 Films To See Before You Die. Several hundred are already online, along with film quizzes to test your knowledge.

Wednesday 27 June 2007

A Lyrical Bonanza

The Stage reports that Belfast's Lyric Theatre has received a £1 million donation by Dr Martin Naughton and Mrs Carmel Naughton, a local couple. Naughton founded the Glen Dimplex company in Newry in 1973.

The Lyric is in the middle of fund-raising £16 million necessary to build a new state of the art home on the site of its existing premises. The generous donation brings the company to within £2 million of its target.

The Lyric is expected to close its doors at the end of 2007 with its new two-auditorium theatre, designed by Dublin-based architects O'Donnell & Tuomey, scheduled to open in 2010. It will house a 400-seat main stage and a flexible 150-seat space that will now be called the Naughton Studio.

Welcoming the donation, Lyric chairman Mark Carruthers said the theatre was "overwhelmed by the support and encouragement we have received from the Naughtons" and hoped that "other local business leaders and philanthropists will take inspiration from the Naughtons' lead to help us create a lasting legacy for future generations".

Oscailt 07

The deadline for application to the 2007 Oscailt scheme is Friday July 13th. Co-funded by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/The Irish Film Board and TG4, the scheme wants to encourage quality and innovative filmmaking in Ireland through the Irish language. Films between 10 - 25 minutes can be financed, up to a maximum budget of €290,000.

The scheme insists that the writer, director, producer and crew involved are legally resident in Ireland, and that each project has a separate producer and director. A language advisor will be employed if the director is not fluent enough to work through the Irish language. The application form indicates the materials needed for the submission, and can be downloaded from the web site.

Tuesday 26 June 2007

Theatre Methods 07

Theatre Methods 07 is an International conference-festival that examines the overlap between traditional and contemporary performing arts. It takes place in Bovec, Slovenia from July 30 - August 2, 2007, and full details about the programme and participants are available on its web site.

Fleadh Programme Online

The Galway Film Fleadh (10th - 15th July) launched its programme last night, which includes a Polish Season, discussions on cinema, a tribute to Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan, actor Jeremy Irons, screenwriter Terry George, and German director Volker Schloendorff, industry events, masterclasses, the pitching award, a celebration of LBGT films, and premiers aplenty.

There will be a one-day conference on Thursday, called the Real Deal, which will look at how to get movies made in a merciless market. It features panel discussions, market analysis, and case studies.

Full details are on the web site.

Monday 25 June 2007

New TV Drama Course

FÁS Screen Training Ireland is organising a Television Drama Development course over two weekends: the 2nd - 3rd August and the 1st - 2nd September 2007, at the Westbury Hotel in Dublin.

The tutors are: David Nevins (Emmy-award winning producer and president of Imagine TV), Sarah Timberman (founder of 25C Productions), Ed Redlich (executive producer of the legal drama Shark), and John Yorke (controller of continuing drama series at BBC).

The course is designed for Irish professionals involved in producing, writing, development and script editing in the television and film industry. Participants should be involved in developing current television drama projects.

The aim of this course is to enhance participants' understanding of television drama forms and formats, focusing on such issues as structure and character in TV drama, exploring the US Showrunner and writers room models, and evaluating successful TV drama concepts and ideas.

The course will cover the following:

  • Television drama structure
  • Character
  • Sourcing ideas and concept development
  • The creation of bibles, pilots and proposals for broadcasters
  • Working with writers
  • The development process: US/UK/Ireland
  • TV vs. feature film
  • New technologies/formats
  • Case Studies
  • TV drama audiences at home and abroad.
  • The commissioning process.
After the Television Drama Development course, participants will be invited to submit television drama proposals, either as individuals or part of a team. Eight people will be selected to participate in a follow-up, project-based Television Writing course that will run over two intensive modules from October to December 2007. Only participants on the TV Drama Development course will be considered for the Television Writing Programme.

Please apply online at the Screen Training Ireland web site. The deadline for applications is Mon 23rd July 2007.

Writing in Irish

The Guild is organising a conference at the Galway Film Fleadh on the issue of writing for the screen in Irish.

With the arrival of BCI money, and the Irish language television fund in Northern Ireland, the volume of TV drama in Irish has increased, and two (admittedly very low budget) Irish feature films have been produced. What are the prospects for production in Irish, and will more money mean more production or bigger budgets? How should drama in a minority language be supported?

The meeting will include speakers from French-speaking Canada, and from Wales, and will take place the morning of Friday 13th July in the Radisson Hotel in Galway.

Jordan at Royal Court

The BBC Writersroom, in association with The Royal Court Theatre in London, are holding an open and free event where screenwriter Tony Jordan (Hustle, Holby Blue, and Life on Mars) will talk with Kate Rowland, the BBC's Creative Director of New Writing, about creating, writing, and sustaining popular television drama series.

Tickets are now available for this event from the Royal Court Box Office. Phone: 020 7565 5000.

Volunteer for Cheltenham

The Screenwriters' Festival 2007 takes place in the Cheltenham Film Studios, UK, and runs from July 3rd - 6th 2007. It features speakers and discussions about the screenwriting industry, which are divided between topics of interest to the new writer, and those applicable to the established professional.

The Festival is expensive, however. If you'd like to attend, but can't afford to do so, consider applying to become a volunteer for the event. Duties might include stewarding, driving, or being a runner, but best of all volunteers receive free entry to the festival.

Thursday 21 June 2007

Damage on RTE

According to IFTN the new made-for-television film, Damage, written and directed by Irish writer/director Aisling Walsh (Sinners, Fingersmith), will air on RTÉ One on Sunday 24th June, at 9.30 pm.

The drama features a formidable cast, including British actresses Olivia Williams (Rushmore, The Sixth Sense) and Natalie Press (My Summer of Love, Red Road) alongside Scottish actor David O'Hara (Tristan & Isolde) and Irish actor Brendan Coyle (The Mapmaker).

Damage is a powerful single drama, produced by Subotica Entertainment, that deals with the aftermath of a violent rape perpetrated at a 21st birthday party in affluent, Southside Dublin.

Wednesday 20 June 2007

Meet Frederic Krivine

The French television writer Frédéric Krivine will be giving a talk tonight at 7.30pm in the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar, Dublin at the invitation of the Guild.

The creator and writer of many of the 125 episodes of PJ, France's police procedural television show, Krivine also created and wrote the tense television thriller Nom de code: DP. He is the creator, main writer, and executive producer of a new 66 x one hour series, which will be collectively written in a European take on the American writers' room system. Since June last year he's been the co-president of L'Union-Guilde des Scénaristes.

The meeting is open to Guild members only, but they are welcome to bring along a friend or colleague. Please call (01) 670-9970 to book a place.

Irish YouTube Launched

YouTube has gone global, according to the BBC. The Internet video site has launched local language versions of its popular portal in Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK.

Over half of YouTube viewers are based outside of the USA, so the push into new territories will continue. The company has also announced international content partners including deals with France 24, Antena 3 in Spain, European football clubs such as AC Milan, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as organisations such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. This means, of course, that YouTube is positioning itself as a provider not only of user-generated content but of professionally-produced material.

The company says it has more than 1,000 global partners, with more than 150 deals signed in Europe since March.

Mr Hurley [YouTube co-founder] said: "We respect copyright and we want to create new revenue streams to create opportunities.

"We have been working with rights holders to help them leverage new audiences."

Despite the assurances, YouTube is facing widespread legal action from copyright holders over the use of material that is being uploaded by the site's users without permission.

Game banned in Ireland

RTÉ reports that the Film Censor has banned a video game in Ireland for the first time. The offending title, Manhunt 2--which was also banned in the UK--was considered to contain " an unacceptable level of violence."

The Film Censor, John Kelleher, claims the game features gross levels of manipulation and torture.

Mr Kelleher said he recognises that in some films or video games strong graphic violence may be a justifiable element within the overall context of the work. However, he said that in the case of this game, there was no context and the brutality was unrelenting and gratuitous.

Tuesday 19 June 2007

Online Distribution

The Telegraph has an interesting article about how new forms of distribution are being used by filmmakers to get attention for their low-budget endeavours.

Susan Buice and Arin Crumley are the writers and directors of a low-budget film, Four-Eyed Monsters, which they financed through the popular American method of racking up tremendous amounts of debt on credit cards. After releasing their film via their own web site, they have recently uploaded the entire film to YouTube for a limited period to garner interest in the film. As the Telegraph comments:

The results of this internet-only exposure have been astonishing. In the first four days on YouTube, more than half a million people watched it - far more than the average blockbuster would attract if shown in every multiplex in Britain simultaneously.
The problem is to translate this exposure into money that will repay their debt. To facilitate this they've filmed a short introduction to the movie that asks viewers to join a web site that will then give the pair a dollar for every new member. It's a simple advertising ploy that seems to be working to eat into the debt the couple has amassed.

Monday 18 June 2007

Page the Cinema Staff

These days watching a film in a theatre can be a noisy experience: mobile phone usage tends to be the biggest source of aggravation. People get calls, send texts, or worse, begin a conversation and regale the other person about the merits of the film. The New York Times notes that some theatres in the USA have come up with a system to nip this problem in the bud.

Late last month, five Regal Entertainment Group cinemas around the city began arming some audience members with black plastic pagers that can be used to silently alert the theater staff about various irritations.

"It empowers the guest; they love it," said Heather DeMatteis, the manager of Battery Park Stadium 11 in Manhattan, where the pager system has been in place since late 2005 as part of a nationwide test.
Perhaps theatres in Ireland should investigate this system?

Friday 15 June 2007

Joyce Day

Tomorrow is the 103rd Bloomsday, and to celebrate the James Joyce Centre in Dublin has been organising activities in the run-up to the special day. There are walking tours, breakfasts, exhibitions and readings for those of you who want to celebrate James Joyce's most famous work, Ulysses.

Thursday 14 June 2007

January Award Announced

Filmbase has announced the three finalists for the January round of the Filmbase/RTÉ Short Film Award 2007

The winning projects were:
"Close" Anne Marie Brennan (writer/director) & Joanne Duffy (producer)
"Super Dad" Oran Doyle (writer), Damian Farrell (director) & Nuala Carr (producer)
"Tufty" Jason Butler (writer), Brendan Butler (director) & Dave Leahy (producer)
Two hundred projects applied for the award, so it was a difficult selection.

The deadline for the next round is Friday, June 29th June 2007, and the application period opens on Friday the 15th.

Wednesday 13 June 2007

RTE Radio Goes Digital

RTÉ has announced the trial-run until November 2007 of six Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) radio stations, which will only be available to listeners in the Greater Dublin and North East coast area who own a DAB digital radio.

The stations are:

RTÉ 2XM: A station for students and young adults, specialising in new music.

RTÉ Junior: Pop radio for children. Predominantly music, RTÉ Junior is programmed around a child's day and broadcast daily from 7am to 9pm.

RTÉ Gold: A classic hits service of music from the 1950s to 1980s.

RTÉ Choice: A station featuring comedy, documentaries, vintage shows, music, international programming and well-known presenters broadcasting at alternative times.

RTÉ Digital Radio News: Provided by RTÉ News and Current Affairs, this is a rolling news bulletin station.

RTÉ Digital Radio Sport: Provided by RTÉ Radio's Sports Department, this is a rolling sports bulletin station.

Tuesday 12 June 2007

Tear Up the Script

Theatre Forum's Annual Conference is taking place from Thursday June 15 until Friday June 15, at the University Concert Hall in Limerick.

The theme of the 2007 conference is TEARING UP THE SCRIPT. Curated by Willie White, this two-day event features an array of high profile Irish and international speakers.

Monday 11 June 2007

Fleadh Masterclasses Announced

The Galway Film Fleadh / Galway Film Centre in association with FÁS Screen Training Ireland have announced the 2007 Actors' and Directors' Masterclasses.

The Actors' Masterclass with Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons will take place during the morning of Saturday 14 July 2007.

The Directors' Masterclass with German New Wave director Volker Schlöndorff, will be hosted the morning of Friday 13 July 2007.

The Galway Film Fleadh / Galway Film Centre in association with Northern Ireland Screen have organised the Screenwriters Masterclass with screenwriter Terry George, and it will take place Friday 13th July in the afternoon.

Admission to each masterclass is by application only, and costs €50. The deadline for applications is 5pm, Friday June 29th 2007.

June Sit-In is having its monthly Sit-In tonight in Training Room 3 in Filmbase, Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 at 7.30pm. The usual schedule consists of discussions, screenings, pitches, and afterwards drinks in the pub., Ireland's online film industry forums, now boasts a community of over 500 members.

Tonys Round-Up

Playbill summarises last night's Tony Awards in New York. Among the seven Tonys The Coast of Utopia took home was the prestigious Best Play. Spring Awakening took home a record eight Tonys including Best Musical.

RTÉ notes that Irish set-designer Bob Crowley took home two Tonys: Best Scenic Design of a Play for The Coast of Utopia and Best Scenic Design of a Musical for Mary Poppins.

Friday 8 June 2007

Galway's 30th Line-up

RTÉ has information about some of the highlights at the forthcoming 30th Galway Arts Festival. In particular:

The European premiere of 'The Sunset Limited', a new play written by acclaimed novelist Cormac McCarthy and produced by Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company, will take place at the 2007 Galway Arts Festival. ...

Other performers include the newly established TEAM, (Theatre of the Emerging American Moment), a NYC-based devised theatre company; Austin-based theatre collective the Rude Mechanicals; the Stephen Petronio Dance Company from New York; and the world premiere production of new play 'The Revenant' by leading Irish novelist, playwright and screenwriter Patrick McCabe.

New work from Galway features 'Love and Other Disguises' by Colm Maher from Catastrophe in collaboration with Chrysalis Dance, Pillow Fight Productions' 'The Projector of Dreams' and a new show from the Flying Pigs 'An Audience With The Divine Peaches'.

Garage in Galway

The Galway Film Fleadh has announced that the award-winning Irish film Garage, written by Mark O'Halloran and directed by Lenny Abrahamson, will be screened at the Festival at 9pm in the Town Hall on Saturday 14th July.

A Big Fringe

The Stage reports that this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe (August 5-27) will have more than 2,000 different shows.

"This year presents us with some events on an epic scale," said Gudgin [festival director], who will be replaced by Contact Theatre's Jon Morgan in two week's time. "We have got the biggest single comedy event ever announced in Edinburgh, with Ricky Gervais performing to 8,000 people at the castle. The largest purpose-built venue ever to arrive in Edinburgh is the Black Tent, down on the waterfront in Leith, which will hold 1,200 people for an extraordinary Argentinean show called Fuerzabruta."

Of the new awards, the most prestigious is a link with the Edinburgh International Festival, which offers one fringe show the opportunity to perform in next year's EIF. The Arches Brick Award for Emergent Talent will commission a developing theatre company to perform at the Glasgow venue.

There will also be a new award for the comedy section. The winner will be commissioned to produce three programmes for the Current TV channel, set up by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt.

Thursday 7 June 2007

The Queen Sinks

The Pirate Queen, the latest musical from Riverdance producers Moya Doherty and John McColgan, will close on Broadway on June 17.

RTÉ reports that the show will lose approximately $16m.

In their statement announcing the closing of 'The Pirate Queen', its producers said that plans "for a European English-language production are under way and will be announced in the near future."

Wednesday 6 June 2007

BBC Cut Credits

The Stage reports that the new BBC policy of limiting programme credits to a mere 30 seconds, which only lists those who make a "significant creative contribution", has sparked outrage among actors and crew members. Both Bectu and Equity have scheduled meetings with the BBC to discuss the move.

Bectu supervisory official Luke Crawley said: "The whole point of credits is to get recognition for what you have done. It makes a difference to our members getting work as, to do so, they have got to be known in the market place. It’s not acceptable."

Equity head of communications and membership support Martin Brown said he was surprised the BBC had not sought the union’s views on the changes.

He said: "Credits are crucial to the professional development of actors and the creative team. On numerous occasions Equity has made it clear to the BBC and other broadcasters that we are opposed to credits being run faster than a viewer can read them or squashed into a small segment of the screen."
The BBC's reasoning for the change is retain the audience once a programme ends. Their research indicates, "that lengthy credits make viewers switch over or switch off. Research shows up to 80% of viewers leave a programme at the start of the end credits."

An online petition has been set up to indicate people's displeasure with the move.

RTE Commissions for 2008

According to IFTN RTÉ has released information about its 2008 commissioning round. Next year it is looking for Factual, Entertainment, Lifestyle, Educational, Regional, Young People's, Multi-cultural, Education programming agus Cláracha Gaeilge for RTÉ ONE and RTÉ TWO. Submissions will be accepted, online only, from Monday the 25th of June 2007 until Monday 27th August 2007 at 12 noon. Drama proposals are accepted throughout the year.

This year there has been a change in the application process. Producers who plan to submit applications have to register with RTÉ online first -- registration begins today. RTÉ states:

All of our commissions must be original, distinctive in their own genre, focused on their target audience, and offer a clear sense of how they will enhance our service to our viewers. We are looking for the best available creativity and talent in the sector, and will particularly welcome new talent in appropriate roles, including front of camera.

Tuesday 5 June 2007

Temple Bar Goes Festive

The Temple Bar Film Festival opens tomorrow with a launch at 6.30pm, followed by a showing at 7.30pm of the programme of short Irish documentaries that sold out at the Dublin International Film Festival last February.

This year the festival programme will include eight programmes of Irish short films (including a specially commissioned programme from Nicky Gogan of the Darklight Festival), two feature screenings (Karl Golden's The Honeymooners and Perry Ogden's Pavee Lackeen) and a panel discussion on the distribution of Irish film. Panelists include: Edwina Forkin (Zanzibar Films), Michael McMahon (Molotov Digital) and Derry O'Brien (Network Ireland).

Also as part of the festival, Filmbase is delighted to be hosting a masterclass entitled 'The Art of Action' with stunt co-ordinator/action choreographer, Roger Yuan. During this 1-day masterclass members of the public will see how on-screen action sequences are choreographed and filmed as Roger directs a group of actor/performers to perform action sequences in front of a steadicam operator.

New Words Squeeze In

Writers will be interested in this article on Yahoo, which discusses the ninth edition of the Collins English Dictionary, and the words that have gained entry to the book.

The new arrivals provided a snapshot of the way the English language has thrown up new words to describe the modern world.
Examples of new words recognised are: "hoodie", "size zero", "radicalising", "rendition", "carbon footprint", "Gitmo" (slang for the Guantanamo Bay US detention camp), "me-media", "pro-ana", and "plasma screen television".
A Collins spokesperson said that many of the words "will undoubtedly sink back into obscurity being bound up with today's ephemera, but others will take root."

YouTube Gets Legit Programmes

The Hollywood Reporter notes that YouTube has struck a deal with Hearst-Argyle Television Inc, which own 26 television stations in Boston, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Sacramento, Calif., and Manchester, N.H. YouTube will distribute local television programmes from the Hearst-Argyle network in a new revenue-sharing agreement.

"This deal fits perfectly within our overall digital strategy," said Terry Mackin, executive vp at Hearst-Argyle Television. "We have invested significant resources in our growing digital media efforts."

Hearst-Argyle is an investor in Internet Broadcasting Systems Inc., which publishes local TV news Web sites, including Hearst-Argyle stations. Last month, Internet Broadcasting signed a deal with Turner Broadcasting's CNN, which will bring CNN content to its sites and vice versa.
Also, Russian online news source, Kommersant, reported that English-language TV channel Russia Today has launched it own section on YouTube.
"For us, the agreement with YouTube is the chance to widen audience of our channel by hundreds of thousand users of Internet, for whom, watching TV on the computer monitor is more habitual and comfortable," said Russia Today Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan.

Monday 4 June 2007

New UK Theatre Agreement

On Friday the new President of the Writers Guild of the UK, David Edgar, signed a new TNC agreement on behalf of the Guild. TNC is shorthand for the first minimum-terms collective agreement between the Writers Union and the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Court, which was established in 1979.

This agreement has been under review for several years, and new terms have been negotiated. Writers for the stage will now receive an upfront fee of £10,000 (the combined commission, delivery and acquisition fees) in all RSC, NT and RC spaces except for the Theatre Upstairs. This payment will also serve as a benchmark for the Guild's further negotiations with other companies.

The new agreement also cements that playwrights are entitled to payment for all the days they attend rehearsals (with their accommodation expenses covered), and for conducting other production-related business. The playwrights' right to casting approval is also safeguarded.

There are a number of other changes, including a shortening of the option period from eight months down to six months, and it even covers the issue of how extracts of the play may be displayed on the theatre's website.

Dutch Reality is Unreal

In a clever twist, the Dutch reality TV show that purported to allocate the kidneys from a dying woman to one of three contestants turned out to be a hoax: the woman was an actress, and the three patients that require a kidney transplant were aware of this fact.

The show was designed to raise awareness about the shortage of donor organs in the Netherlands. Approximately 200 people die each year waiting for a kidney transplant, and the average waiting time is more than four years.

Friday 1 June 2007

Force 12 in Mayo

Mayo County Council Arts Office has announced the line-up for the 2007 Force 12 Writers' Weekend, which is taking place from Friday 8th - Sunday 10th June in Belmullet, Co. Mayo.

Chris Agee will direct the weekend, with a host of well-known writers including Michael Longley, Harry Clifton, Michael Coady, Patricia Craig, Deirdre Madden, Claire Keegan, Francis Harvey and Writer-in-Residence Paddy Bushe. The weekend is very much dedicated to visiting writers groups and it will provide a great opportunity for Mayo writers to interact with groups from all over the country.
Places are limited, so it is essential to book by Friday 1st June (today!). If you wish to attend any of the events contact the Mayo County Council Arts Office at 094-9024444, ext. 7558 & 7560, or .

Podcasting NI

The latest Culture NI podcast is a sampling of the best from the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, and includes interviews with writer and playwright, Carlo Gebler and playwright Martin Lynch.

Festival of Writers

The Dublin Writers Festival is running from 13-17 of June, and will feature readings, interviews, and discussions with writers from around the world.