Wednesday 17 December 2008

BCI Increase

It's not all cut backs and gloom in recent funding decisions. The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resource, Eamon Ryan TD, announced last week that he will increase funding for the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland's (BCI) Sound and Vision programme by 2% on the previous allocation.

This increase will bring total investment in Ireland's independent television production to almost €15.5m in 2009.

"The independent production sector is an important creative source, as well as a significant employer," Minister Ryan said.

"This increase in the Sound and Vision fund from 5 to 7pc, combined with the increase in the RTÉ statutory independent production spend to €40m from €32m a year, gives some certainty to this sector in a tougher economic climate."

The IBEC Audiovisual Federation 2008 Review revealed that 265 audiovisual productions were completed in Ireland in 2007, with a total production value of €195.7m.

Although these figures mark a significant reduction on the overall 2006 production figures of €279.8m, estimated figures for 2008 confirm that the industry has returned to strong levels of production, with an overall estimated value of €246m.

Audiovisual Federation director Tommy McCabe said: "The analysis in the report is divided under three headings: film, television and animation. The 2007 report shows a downturn in feature-film productions, but a continuing strong performance in TV and major TV drama productions, as well as a consistent growth in animation."

With regard to film, production activity in 2007 declined to €19.3m, a reduction of 77pc on 2006. It is estimated that the level of production activity for feature films will increase to €64m in 2008, but this is still significantly below levels achieved in earlier years, and confirms the overall loss of growth in international feature-film activity.

"It is hoped that the improvements to Section 481 will increase the level of international productions in Ireland next year," McCabe said.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Short News

  • "Whatever Turns You On", the short film written and directed by Declan Cassidy, won the Best Film award at the Florence International Film Festival in Italy.
  • At last week's HDFest in Los Angeles - the world's biggest festival devoted to purely HD films - the short film, "The Morse Collectors", written by Pól Mag Uidhir and directed by David Cooke, won four awards: Best Director, Best Cinematography (Angus Mitchell), Honourable Mention for Best Short Film, and Honourable Mention for Best Screenplay.

Monday 15 December 2008

Making Money From YouTube

The New York Times has an article about the people who are successfully making money from videos that are posted for free on YouTube, but part of its partner program.

The program allows YouTube to highlight videos with original content, and to place advertisements within and around the material. It splits the revenues with the creators.

The program is a partial solution to a nagging problem for YouTube. The site records 10 times the video views as any other video-sharing Web site in the United States, yet it has proven to be hard for Google to profit from, because a vast majority of the videos are posted by anonymous users who may or may not own the copyrights to the content they upload. While YouTube has halted much of the illegal video sharing on the site, it remains wary of placing advertisements against content without explicit permission from the owners. As a result, only about 3 percent of the videos on the site are supported by advertising.

But the company has high hopes for the partner program. Executives liken it to Google AdSense, the technology that revolutionized advertising and made it possible for publishers to place text advertisements next to their content.

"Some of these people are making videos in their spare time," said Chad Hurley, a co-founder of YouTube. "We felt that if we were able to provide them a true revenue source, they'd be able to hone their skills and create better content."

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Not Normal

According to Northern Ireland Screen the NI Community Relations Council wishes to commission a series of 10-15 short films, focussing on the bizarre behaviour patterns and contradictions which are the 'perceived normality' of contemporary life in Northern Ireland.

It's hoped the series will illustrate the division of society in Northern Ireland, principally sectarian but also racial. The working title for film series is Not Normal.

The film treatments should highlight the ironies, paradoxes of identity, double-takes, physical movement conventions, political and faith 'place mapping', avoidance behaviour, verbal circumlocutions, and silent knowledge, of domestic and public life in Northern Ireland, illustrating its contemporary implications in a divided society.

The approaches and film techniques should interest (principally) the 16 -25 year-old audience Proposals are called for from film production companies and individuals with a track record of working with and producing films for young people in this age range.

Each film proposal should be submitted on one A4 page, and should articulate:

  • The central idea
  • The treatment
  • The creative approach
  • The format
  • The genre
Applications from individuals should indicate the Film company or Executive producers with whom they will be working. The CVs of these must detail previous experience of delivery and production.

The commissioned films will be funded with an allocation of up to £2,000, which will be subject to contract, and against agreed budgets.

Each commissioned film must have copyright cleared for broadcast and transmission on the web, and be submitted to CRC on an edited DVD.

Each individual or film company may submit a maximum of 5 ideas or treatments for films.
The deadline for proposals is 5pm on 31st January 2009, and information on where to send the applications is on the web site.

Monday 8 December 2008

New 481 Rules

Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB) has applauded new improvements to Section 481, the Irish tax incentive for film and television, announced today by the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Mr. Martin Cullen.

The current Section 481 incentive which extends to 2012 has been amended in order to restore the competitiveness of Ireland as an international film and television location. As a result of these amendments, Ireland is now in a position to offer an extremely attractive package to international producers who choose Ireland as a location, comparing favourably with international competitors.

The benefits of high levels of film and television production in Ireland will include increased international investment in the economy, increased employment in this sector, positive spin-off effects for promoting Ireland as a tourist location and the improvement of Ireland as an industrial location for all aspects of creative endeavors.

Commenting on this recommendation James Morris, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board Chairman said "With the introduction of these amendments the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism is signaling a clear vote of confidence in the industry to deliver not only on the immediate employment and overseas investments in the next twelve months but also on the long term potential for the industry to continue to grow. In this context recently gathered statistics demonstrate dramatically the success of Government policy of promoting an Irish based screen industry through direct funding and film tax incentives. Since 1992 the numbers in the industry have grown from 1000 directly employed to 6000 in 2008 and given the nature of film and television production, this also represents substantial additional spin-off benefits in terms of expenditure in the wider economy.'

The new changes to the tax incentive were introduced by Government in response to the IFB commissioned report 'Restoring Viability and Balance to the Irish Film Production Industry' which was submitted to the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Martin Cullen earlier this year and will be implemented in the 2009 Finance Bill.

The new changes will assist the IFB and the sector to raise the profile of Ireland as an international film and television location and entice Hollywood productions to locate in Ireland. Whilst Ireland has not attracted any major US features to film on location here this year, IFB-funded film and television projects contributed an estimated total of over €75 million to the Irish economy in 2008, showing a significant return on government investment in this sector. Improvements to our tax incentive for film production will have the direct effect of increasing this return to the economy in 2009.

Thornton Wins Euro Award

The European Film Awards were announced at the weekend.

Irish writer/director Darren Thornton won the European Film Academy Short Film Award, the Prix UIP, for his short film "Frankie".

The European Screenwriter 2008 was awarded to Maurizio Braucci, Ugo Chiti, Gianni di Gregorio, Matteo Garrone, Massimo Gaudioso & Roberto Saviano for Gomorrah. The film is adapted from the novel by Roberto Saviano.

Gomorrah, which won this year's Cannes Grand Prix, was also named European Film of the Year, and nabbed European Director for Matteo Garrone.

A full list of all the winners is available on the web site.

Friday 5 December 2008

NI Screenwriter Will Pitch

Northern Irish screenwriter David McCrea has won one of ten places in the Son of the Pitch competition organised by the Screenwriters' Festival (SWF) in conjunction with 4Talent, according to Northern Ireland Screen. His pitch for the feature film entitled Lottery was selected from over 900 entries.

David will be pitching his idea in front of a live audience and to a panel of industry experts who will ask about his pitch and, in a cunning twist for SWF'09, the audience will also get to ask questions.

The prize includes a free four day ticket (worth £300) to the Screenwriters' Festival 2009 taking place Monday 26th to Thursday 29th October in Cheltenham courtesy of SWF and 4Talent.

As one of the 10 finalists David also gets a private masterclass in pitching from Julian Friedmann of the 'Blake Friedmann Agency'. Three winners will be chosen but the real prize is the industry professionals listening to the pitch in the audience who could feel that your idea is exactly what they are looking for.

This Son of the Pitch event is one of the most prestigious opportunities for screenwriters, in particular undiscovered talent, in the UK to breakthrough and be discovered.

David recently wrote, produced, and directed his debut short film, "The Carnival Queen", and is developing several feature film scripts, his second short film, an online drama series, and a television sitcom.

The full shortlist of winners is:
  • Philippa Langley - The Council
  • Steve Moore - OneFourSeven
  • Tim Clague - Delete Friend?
  • Khalid Shamis - Chilli Chilli Bang Bang
  • Martin Keady - The First Man
  • David McCrea - Lottery
  • David Turner - In the Name of Light Entertainment
  • Stavros Pamballis - Saving Abeo
  • Tim Telling - Office Gothic
  • Zenon Texeira - Maddogs and Indian Men

Thursday 4 December 2008

NI Conference Fund

Northern Ireland Screen is looking for applications for its Markets, Festivals & Conference Fund.

This element of the Screen Fund is designed to assist NI talent with financial support to attend appropriate markets, festivals and conferences. A key principle of the fund is that a visit should lead to activity in a range of areas including sales, promotion, co-production, advancement of skills and expertise and should have a positive impact on the film, television and new media sectors.

Single grants can be awarded of up to 50% of the total eligible costs or £1,500, whichever is the lesser amount. However, from 2007 Northern Ireland Screen has introduced a new strand to this fund whereby we will make a contribution against a company’s annual marketing plan of up to £5,000 or 50% of the total cost of the annual marketing plan, whichever is the lesser amount. Multi-event applications must be for attendance at 3 or more events.

All applications for Northern Ireland Screen funding must be matched in cash from the applicant company or from another private source. Please note that Northern Ireland Screen funding cannot be matched with other grant funding from either Northern Ireland Screen or other public sector

Foyle Winners 08

The Foyle Film Festival announced the winners of the Light In Motion (LIM) Film Awards last Saturday.

As usual, the writers of the films were omitted in the press release, so I've hunted down that information and ensured all the details are correct.

Best Feature Film: Kisses
Written and directed by Lance Daly

Special Mention: Hounddog
Written and directed by Deborah Kampmeier

Best Documentary: One Water
Directed by Sanjeev Chatterjee

Best Irish Short: "The Door"
Written and directed by Juanita Wilson

Special Mention: "The Silver Bow"
Written and directed by Robert Manson

Special Mention: "Martin"
Written and directed by Sean Branigan

Best International Short: "Veglia" ("Wake")
Written and directed by Michele Rho

Special Mention: "Love You More"
Written by Patrick Marber
Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood

Best Animation: "French Roast"
Written and directed by Fabrice O. Joubert

Special Mention: "En Agosto" ("In August")
Written and directed by Andrés Barrientos and Carlos Andrés Reyes

Special Mention: "La Vita Nuova"
Written by Arnaud Demuynck
Directed by Christophe Gautry and Arnaud Demuynck

Wednesday 3 December 2008

McDonagh Gets BIFA

The winners of the 11th British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) were announced in London recently.

The Best Screenplay award went to Irish screenwriter Martin McDonagh for In Bruges.

A full list of all the winners is available on the BIFA web site.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

WGA in Arbitration

Last month the Writers Guild of America West announced that it had filed for arbitration against the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers – the AMPTP – over non-payment of residuals from new media.

"Our agreement with the companies on material released to EST covers feature films produced after July 1, 1971, and television programs produced after 1977," said John F. Bowman, WGAW Board member and chair of the 2007 WGA Negotiating Committee. "The companies have reneged on this agreement and are taking the position that only programs produced after February 13, 2008 are covered by the new provision. This may be their deal with the DGA, but that was never our agreement. Every proposal we made during negotiations made clear our position that library product was covered, and the AMPTP never objected to that position. The Guild will not allow this to stand."

The Guild is also preparing to file for arbitration against the AMPTP companies for failing to pay residuals due for the streaming of television shows on the Internet. "Our tracking has shown that episodes are staying on websites longer than the 17-day initial window called for in the contract. This triggers the payment of a residual, but so far we've seen nothing," said David Young, executive director of the WGAW. "Given the reports by the conglomerates of the growth of the number of shows being streamed and increases in new media revenues, this is an unacceptable situation."

"In light of the fact that writers are not being paid for new media reuse, it's unconscionable that the AMPTP proclaims on its website, 'By working under an expired contract, SAG members are not receiving the new media residuals that other Guild members are already collecting,'" said WGAW President Patric M. Verrone. "The companies know what is being streamed, and they regularly announce how successful they are in generating online advertising revenue, so there's no reason for them not to honor the agreement they made with us."

Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood covers the reply from the AMPTP as well as the WGAW's response to the excuses.

Monday 1 December 2008

New Friel Centre

According to The Stage a new state of the art research facility in Queen's Univerity Belfast will be named after playwright Brian Friel.

Already an honorary graduate of the university, the Northern Ireland-born playwright, who will celebrate his 80th birthday in January, will give his name to the Brian Friel Theatre and Centre for Theatre Research. The complex, within the university's south Belfast campus, will form part of Queen's Centre for Drama and Film Studies, which was opened in 2004 at a cost of £1.6 million, complete with a 120-seat studio theatre.

The Centre for Theatre Research is an entirely new development and will, says David Johnston, head of the university's school of languages, literature and performing arts, "be a fitting tribute to Ireland's greatest living playwright by providing a focus for cutting-edge research into theatre practice".

Acknowledging the accolade, Friel said he hoped the new facilities would help the university's students "nurture their talent and develop the skills necessary to succeed on the stage and screen".


Last week the Media And Multicultural Awards (MAMA) 2008 were handed out at a ceremony in the Abbey Theatre.

The awards, which were established by multicultural newspaper Metro Éireann, aim to recognise people, groups, companies, institutions and media platforms that promote diversity and multiculturalism in Ireland.

Saviours, the documentary film by Ross Whitaker and Liam Nolan about the St Saviours Boxing Academy, won two awards: first place in the Visual Media category, and the St Saviours Boxing Academy was awarded a special bursary of €5,000 from the Iris O'Brien Foundation. This award was for an individual or organisation that positively responded to cultural diversity in Ireland.

The documentary was funded by the Irish Film Board, and it reports:

Liam Nolan picked up the award for Saviours and said afterwards, "It's brilliant for the film to be recognised at these awards because we really felt that the film could say something positive about the benefits of a multicultural outlook. And we're very happy that the club has received a very well-deserved award too - it's nice to give something back."

Ross Whitaker added, "We didn't want the film to be overtly political but we still feel that it raises awareness about some issues related to race and we feel that the film can really make people think differently about these issues. We feel that this is a really important award and we're delighted to have been won it."

Here is a full list of all the Awards and their winners:

  • Individual: Utsav Lal
  • Non-Governmental Sector: Fáilte Isteach Project (Third Age Foundation/Mary Nally)
  • Public Sector: Dublin City Libraries - Many Faces Many Places
  • Private Sector: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dublin Northwood
  • Multinational Organisations: Dell

  • Print Media: Kid's Own Publishing
  • Broadcast Media: Spectrum, RTE Radio One
  • Visual Media: Saviours Documentary - Ross Whitaker & Liam Nolan
  • Student Media: Julian Ulrichs and Richard Walsh - FGM: No Way Home
  • Online/Web Media: Garda John Condruin /

Foras Na Gaeilge Award: In the Name of the Fada/Des Bishop

Iris O'Brien Foundation Bursary Award: St Saviours Boxing Club

National Action Plan Against Racism Award: O'Connell School, Dublin

Friday 28 November 2008

Listen to Cuarón

At 7pm today in the Light House Cinema in Dublin there will be a special preview screening of Año uña (Year of the Nail), which is written and directed by Jonás Cuarón.

The film will be followed by a Q&A session with Cuarón about the process involved in making his first feature.

I, Robot Actor

The BBC reported recently that robot actors appeared in a play at Osaka University in Japan, thus making it the first Japanese robot-human theatre production.

The play is called Hataraku Watashi (I, Worker), and is written by Oriza Hirata.

The Wakamaru robots that perform in the play were manufactured by Mitsubushi, but the software that programmed the robots to to speak lines with the human actors and move around the stage was developed at the university.

It focuses on a young couple who own two housekeeping robots, one of which loses its motivation to work.

In the play, the robot complains that it has been forced into boring and demeaning jobs and enters into a discussion with the humans about its role in their lives.

So far, the play is only 20 minutes long but it is hoped to become a full-length production by 2010.

Submitting to Festivals

On Wednesday, 3rd December at 2pm Filmbase is running a free information session for filmmakers on the best method to get your short film into festivals in Ireland and around the world.

The panel will include Mick Hannigan (Corona Cork Film Festival), Nicky Gogan (Darklight Film Festival, Still Films), Ronan Burke (Black Sheep Productions) and Nerea Aymerich (Film Ireland magazine).

The session will begin with Mick Hannigan and Nicky Gogan talking us through the art of applying to film festivals, from the point of view of the festival organiser. What sort of information do they look for, what are the basic requirements, how important are your synopses and images etc… Ronan Burke will then give us the filmmaker’s perspective using the multi-award winning film Jellybaby as a case study. Jellybaby, which Ronan co-directed with his brother Rob, won numerous awards as well as screening at over sixty film festivals both at home and abroad. Finally, Nerea Aymerich will look more closely at one element of the application process that is often overlooked, having strong production stills to represent and promote your film.

Although the session is free places must be booked in advance, and information on how to register is on the web site.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

2008 ZeBBies Winners Announced

Last night, at a glittering Awards Ceremony, the winners of the 2008 ZeBBie Awards were announced:

  • Best Television Script: Mark O'Halloran for Prosperity (Episode 3, "Georgie's Story")
  • Best Radio Script: Lucy Caldwell for Girl From Mars
  • Best Theatre Script: Christian O'Reilly for Is this about Sex?
  • Best Film Script: Martin McDonagh for In Bruges
  • Honorary Services to Writers Award: Writers' Guilds of America
Congratulations to all the winners!

Monday 24 November 2008

Basket Case Wins

The Irish Film Board reports that the Irish short film "The Basket Case", written and directed by Owen O'Neill, won the Best Short Fiction Award at the Boston Irish Film Festival last week.

O'Brien Adapts for TV Drama

The Stage reports that award-winning Irish novelist, Edna O'Brien, will adapt her novel, Wild Decembers, for a 90-minute television drama for RTÉ.

Jane Gogan, commissioning editor for drama at RTE, said: "I'm honoured to bring the work of one of Ireland's greatest writers to RTE's audiences. Edna O'Brien's television adaptation of her own novel is a powerful piece of work that brings something quite exceptional to Irish drama. The impressive calibre of cast and crew makes this an exciting proposition for our viewers."

Friday 21 November 2008

WGA Members Arrested

Nikki Finke reports on the recent arrest of Writers Guild of America West activists in a shopping mall in Hollywood. Their crime: passing out leaflets during American Idol's auditions that informed the public that "FremantleMedia refuses to treat its writers fairly".

The WGAW insists they did not interfere with or obstruct the shopping mall's operations or the activities of FremantleMedia. But the guild members were turned over to the LAPD, and later released after posting bond. Writers Guild General Counsel Tony Segall said the guild was considering legal action against the operators of the Hollywood & Highland Center for false arrest. The California Supreme Court has held that the state constitution guarantees the right of expression of ideas in shopping malls on the grounds that they're the contemporary equivalent of the town square. The WGAW notes that other labor unions and community groups have held public actions such as leafleting and picketing inside the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex without incident.

Thursday's protest was part of the WGA's ongoing campaign of rallies, briefings, and a nationwide tour to bring attention to what the guild claims are "the substandard industry practices" of American Idol producer FremantleMedia. The American Idol Truth Tour shadowed AI auditions this past summer in several major U.S. cities -- including San Francisco, New York, Phoenix, and San Juan, Puerto Rico -- to demand that FremantleMedia provide its writers and other workers with industry standard pay and benefits. But yesterday was the first time American Idol Truth Tour participants had been arrested. "We will continue to exercise our First Amendment rights despite the heavy-handed treatment we received," said the WGAW's Hermanson. "The public has a right to know that the top-rated show on television does not provide their writers with basic necessities like health care."

Thursday 20 November 2008

Writing Reality TV

Dan Partland, executive producer of Intervention, an award-winning non-fiction series about addiction created for American television channel A&E, explains in detail how the show is written and why it's covered by the Writers Guild of America.

This is an excellent insight into the work involved in crafting and writing "reality" television.

Kiss Up To Lance

After the 6.45pm screening of Kisses, on Friday 21 November in the IFI in Dublin, there will be a Q&A with Lance Daly, the writer and director, along with the two young cast members who star in this Irish film.

There will also be a showing of Declan Cassidy’s short film "Whatever Turns You On", which won Best Irish Short at the Kerry Film Festival, the Audience Award at Filmstock International UK, and was shortlisted for Best Short at the Boston Irish Film Festival.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Film Storytelling in Doubt?

The New York Times reports that the existence of storytelling in film is under review in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory, which is creating a new Centre for Future Storytelling.

The people at M.I.T., in any case, may figure out whether classic storytellers like Homer, Shakespeare and Spielberg have had their day.

Starting in 2010, a handful of faculty members — "principal investigators," the university calls them — will join graduate students, undergraduate interns and visitors from the film and book worlds in examining, among other things, how virtual actors and "morphable" projectors (which instantly change the appearance of physical scenes) might affect a storytelling process that has already been considerably democratized by digital delivery.

A possible outcome, they speculate, is that future stories might not stop in Hollywood all. "The business model is definitely being transformed, maybe even blown apart," said Frank Moss, a former entrepreneur who is now the media lab's director.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

2008 ZeBBie Voting Closes

Voting in the 2008 ZeBBie Awards has closed.

The winners will be announced at the ZeBBie Awards Ceremony, which will take place on Tuesday 25th November, in the Sugar Club in Dublin.

Tickets are now on sale. Numbers are limited, so please contact the Guild quickly to book your tickets and avoid disappointment.

Monday 17 November 2008

New French Cinema

The Guardian has an article today about the new wave of successful French cinema that depicts modern, multicultural France.

In France, 2008 has been a landmark year. Not only did The Class win the Palme d'Or but Marion Cotillard won a Best Actress Oscar - the first French language performance ever to do so, propelling her film, La Vie en Rose, to impressive international box-office figures (£1m in the UK). France also produced its most successful film ever in Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (Welcome to the Sticks), a culture-clash comedy based in small-town northern France, which brought 20 million French people into cinemas, grossing more than $200m and, so far, racking up more than two million DVD sales. No film, French or American, has been more popular.

In the UK, French film dominates the foreign language releases. The number of French films in 2008 stands at 42, with receipts expected to be above £15m. According to Unifrance, which promotes French film abroad, the number of tickets sold in the UK for French films in the past three years has increased fivefold.

What we are seeing, in other words, is a new wave of commercialism in French cinema. Rather than wowing the world - as the New Wave did with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in Jean-Luc Godard's À bout de souffle or Truffaut's Les quatre cents coups - with a new style or a new film grammar, France has positioned itself as a powerhouse of production, cultivating a domestic scene that also feeds international reputation and demand.

Friday 14 November 2008

ZeBBies Voting Open

Voting is now open to members of the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild for the 2008 ZeBBies Awards.

Voting will close on Tuesday, the 18th of November at 17:00.

Here is the final short-list of nominees for the 2008 ZeBBie Awards.


  • Marcus Fleming for Running Mate (Episode 1)
  • Graham Linehan for The IT Crowd (Series 2: Episode 1, "The Work Outing")
  • Mark O'Halloran for Prosperity (Episode 3, "Georgie's Story")

  • Lucy Caldwell for "Girl From Mars"
  • Roddy Doyle for "Two Men Meet"
  • Garret Keogh for "Nancy"

  • Bisi Adigun and Roddy Doyle for The Playboy of the Western World
  • Sebastian Barry for Pride of Parnell Street
  • Christian O'Reilly for Is this about Sex?

  • Martin McDonagh for In Bruges
  • Mark O'Halloran for Garage
  • Mark O'Rowe for Boy A

The winners will be announced at the ZeBBies Awards Ceremony on Tuesday the 25th of November, at the Sugar Club, 8 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2.

Tickets are on sale now, and cost €0 or €25 each (depending on the goodwill of our members). Numbers are limited, so please contact the Guild to book your ticket(s) quickly. No one will be admitted to the Awards Ceremony without a ticket.

Thursday 13 November 2008

BBC Writer Interviews

Over on the BBC Writers Room you can read an interview with screenwriter Russell T Davies about his career, as well as an interview with poet and playwright, Amanda Dalton, about her recent radio adaptation of the classic silent film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.

Fighting Babes Competition

The American theatrical company, Babes with Blades is running an international playwriting competition to increase the number of quality scripts that feature fighting roles for women.

The theme for this year's competition is "Film Noir": the website features a black and white image as an inspirational point for the proposed play, and the scene must appear in the finished work.

The winning playwright will receive a $1000 cash prize.

The deadline for entries is February 28, 2009. More information on the competition, its guidelines, and submission requirements are available on the web site.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Skin Up

E4 is running a screenwriting competition for young writers, and the prize is the chance to write a Skins mini episode, which will be screened online (and possibly on TV) in summer 2009.

Each entry must be a short comedy-drama under 1,600 words that doesn't use an existing Skins character, but contains a minimum of three characters in fewer than five locations. The deadline for entries is 6pm on December 9th 2008.

Before you get too excited about this opportunity it's best to read the restrictions: entrants must be aged between 18 and 23 years and resident of the UK. Proof of age and identity will be required.

A set visit will take place one day between 15th and 19th December 2008, which you will be required to attend.

On the 12th January, you will be required to attend the first meeting with the rest of your team. Another three meetings will be arranged subsequently, and will take place between January 13th and 16th March 2008.

Your time attending the writer's room will begin mid January. We expect you to attend a maximum of 10 sessions. There's a chance that once these 10 sessions have been attended, you may be invited back to the writer's room as a contributor, this decision is at the discretion of Company Pictures.

The filming of the Skins mini episode will take place between 16th March and 20th March 2009 in Bristol. You will be required to attend the four day shoot where you get to witness the mini episode being filmed.

For all meetings, set visits and shoots, accommodation and travel (if necessary) will be paid. You will also be paid a day rate for your time (amount to be confirmed with the winner).

Tuesday 11 November 2008

New Irish Writer 08

At a gala awards ceremony last night author Sally Nicholls was named Glen Dimplex New Writer of the Year 2008 for her novel Ways to Live Forever, published by Scholastic Children's Books.

The winner of the Fiction category was Allan Bush for his book Last Bird Singing (Seren); the Biography/Non-fiction book category was won by Nia Wyn for Blue Sky July (Seren) ; the Poetry prize went to Will Stone for Glaciation (Salt Publishing); while the prize for best Irish-language book went to Simon Ó Faoláin for Anam Mhadra (Coiscéim).

Each category winner received a cheque for €5,000, with a further €20,000 going to Sally Nicholls for securing the overall prize.

Recent Short Successes

Here's a list of Irish short films that have been garnering awards around the world recently:

  • Writer/director Brian Durnin's short film "Of Best Intentions" was selected by Liam Neeson for the top prize at the Kerry Film Festival last weekend.
  • "Frankie", written and directed by Darren Thornton, won a Special Jury Award at the Austen Film Festival for Ryan Andrew's performance as Frankie earlier this month.
  • The Oscailt short film, "Rolla Saor", directed by Cathal Watters and written by Brendan Griffin, picked up the Audience Award at the Santiago de Compostela Film Festival, Spain. The short also picked up the Audience Award at the Sapporo Short Film Festival in Japan earlier this year.
  • Paul Brady picked up the Best Short Subject Award (Hollywood Discovery Award) for his film "Janey Mary" at this year's prestigious Hollywood Film Festival. He adapted the short film from the short story by James Plunkett.
  • The Northern Irish short 'The Morse Collectors' won first prize in the Live Action Film or Video category — awarded by the Adult Jury — at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival. It was written by Pól Mag Uidhir and directed by David Cooke.
  • 'The Battle of the Boyne' directed by Lee Cronin, won the Best International Historical Documentary at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.

Monday 10 November 2008

No Contract Yet for US Actors

According to an article in the LA Times the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in America is no closer to forging a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP).

Instead, the AMPTP is turning its attention back to International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the smaller union.

IATSE and the studios have set aside three days next week in an effort to wrap up negotiations that were put on hold in April when the studios turned their attention to the Screen Actors Guild. More than six months later, however, the studios still don't have a contract with the actors. A federal mediator has met with each side but so far has not convened a joint meeting to resume formal bargaining. And sources on both sides of the divide have little confidence that the process will yield a breakthrough, moving SAG closer toward a potential strike early next year.

Feature Films for YouTube?

The Washington Post reports that Hollywood executives are in discussions with Google over the possibility of streaming full-length feature films on YouTube.

Besides the challenge of becoming a cash cow, YouTube also must now face the hurdle of upping its quality and garnering content. YouTube is infamous for its grainy video and spotty audio. If Google cannot somehow rev up the quality, will people want to check it out at all? I wouldn't want to watch a blurry and distorted two-hour film when crisper options exist in the land of Hulu and the now multi-platform "Watch it Now" Netflix service.

In terms of content, Hulu has an exclusive partnership with NBC and News Corp., which owns all Fox-related programming, so the prospect of YouTube nabbing any of those companies' content is doubtful at best. But with YouTube getting 80 million visitors each month, it definitely has a great consumer backing and could use that to bolster negotiations.

The rumor is that this service could arrive as soon as early as next month. So far the only official word from Google comes from a spokesperson who told CNET, "We are in negotiations with a variety of entertainment companies. Our goal is to offer maximum choice for our users, partners, and advertisers."

Friday 7 November 2008

2008 ZeBBies Short-list

The short-list for the 2008 ZeBBie Awards to date has been announced.


  • Marcus Fleming for Running Mate (Episode 1)
  • Graham Linehan for The IT Crowd (Series 2: Episode 1, "The Work Outing")
  • Mark O'Halloran for Prosperity (Episode 3, "Georgie's Story")

  • Lucy Caldwell for "Girl From Mars"
  • Roddy Doyle for "Two Men Meet"
  • Garret Keogh for "Nancy"

  • Bisi Adigun and Roddy Doyle for The Playboy of the Western World
  • Sebastian Barry for Pride of Parnell Street
  • Christian O'Reilly for Is this about Sex?

  • Martin McDonagh for In Bruges
  • Mark O'Halloran for Garage
  • Mark O'Rowe for Boy A

Members will be able to vote on the scripts from Friday, the 14th of November until 5pm on Tuesday, the 18th of November.

The winners will be announced at the ZeBBies Awards Ceremony on Tuesday the 25th of November, at the Sugar Club, 8 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2.

Tickets are on sale now, and cost €0 or €25 each (depending on the goodwill of our members). Numbers are limited, so please contact the Guild to book your ticket(s) quickly. No one will be admitted to the Awards Ceremony without a ticket.

Congratulations to all the nominees so far. A special thank you to the agents, producers, broadcasters, publishers, and nominees, for their assistance.

Thursday 6 November 2008

Guild Blog Twitters

People who use twitter — the 140-character text update system — can now follow the Guild blog, and receive tweets every time the blog is updated.

TULCA 2008

TULCA, the annual Galway contemporary visual arts festival, is running in the city and country from the 7th - 23rd November. Its theme this year is: I-podism: Cultural Promiscuity in the Age of Consumption.

Tulca 2008 will examine the role of curator as cultural researcher and consumer. I-podism will explore the bombardment we experience through the influx of overwhelming levels of cultural production in contemporary art, text, music, dance, architecture and media. Many artists today use their I-pod to carry their images of their work. This technology influences not only the way we experience music but can be the way we might first encounter an artist’s work.

TULCA 2008 manifests itself as a collection of works spread across a range of conventional and un-conventional venues. This a-contextual structure will facilitate a collection of works, which have found their way onto the I-pod or cultural storage device of the above curator during this time period. The resulting exhibitions and projects will be the manifestation of curatorial decision-making, memory and the transitory nature of interest or engagement. Essentially removing the notion of an umbrella like context for curating a large festival project. The curator will act as a visual D.J. showing mixtapes of separate areas of interest within contemporary art practice.

Nakata Directs Walsh Film

Variety reports that Hideo Nakata, the Japanese director of "Ringu" "The Ring Two," and "Dark Water," will direct "Chatroom", written by Enda Walsh as an adaptation of his play of the same title. The movie is being sold by new sales company WestEnd Films.

Movie is produced by Alison Owen and Paul Trijbits at Ruby Films ("The Other Boleyn Girl," "Brick Lane") and "Hunger" producer Laura Hastings-Smith. It was developed and co-financed by Film4, and exec produced by Film4's Katherine Butler. Lensing will begin in the spring in the U.K.

"Nakata has come up with something very visual, very conceptual, and situated somewhere between 'Disturbia' and 'Cube,' " said WestEnd founder Eve Schoukroun.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

French Film Festival 08

The IFI in Temple Bar, Dublin is running a French Film Festival from 11-20th of November, 2008.

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the programme is our screening of the restored French version of Max Ophuls' masterpiece Lola Montès. Technology now allows us to see this film as it was originally meant to be seen. This screening of the gleaming new print from the Cinémathèque française will truly be a major cinematic event. We are also delighted to offer families a chance to revisit Albert Lamorisse's classic children's film Le Ballon rouge/The Red Balloon. Guests are an important part of any festival and the IFI is honoured to welcome three important faces of French cinema to Dublin. Actress Elsa Zylberstein, who has recently charmed IFI audiences in I’ve Loved You So Long, will introduce her new film La Fabrique des sentiments. The much loved character actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin will present Robert Guédiguian's new film Lady Jane, and veteran director Jean Becker will return to Ireland with his recent film Deux jours à tuer, which was partially shot in Galway.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Francies 2008

At the weekend the Clones Film Festival announced that "Together" won the Francie for Best Short Drama.

"Together" was developed as part of RTÉ Dance on the Box. It was directed by Mary Keane, and choreographed by Steve Batts and Ursula Laeubli. "Together", and the other three shorts produced for the series, can be viewed on its web site.

The 2nd Scanbitz Short Film Challenge was awarded to "Moustache", which was created over the weekend by Little Warrior Films.

The Francie for Best Documentary went to "What I Am" by Fiona Hynes.

Develop Your Drama

FÁS Screen Training Ireland is offering a three-day course in Dublin on Television Drama Development, which starts on November 26th, and will be taught by the following tutors: Valery Ryan, Guy Meredith, Jane Gogan, John Yorke, Manda Levin, Tony McHale, Billy Ivory, Michael Parke, Andrew Fitzpatrick, Danny Stack, Brigie de Courcy, Niall Leonard, and Rochelle Stevens. The course costs €200.

Participant Profile:
Irish professionals involved in producing, writing, development and script editing in the television industry. Participants should be involved in developing current television drama projects.

Course Profile:
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, evaluating successful TV drama concepts and ideas, TV drama co-production, breaking into the UK market, scheduling and acquisitions, writing for long-running series vs. authored drama, and writers room models in Ireland and the UK.

The course will cover the following:
  • Structure
  • Formats and genres
  • Co-production
  • UK market
  • Writers room models
  • Scheduling
  • Acquisitions
  • Writing for long-running series
  • Roles and responsibilities – writers, script editors, producers.
The course will take the form of a two-day seminar, along with a full day session on structure by John Yorke.

The deadline for applicants is Friday 14th November 2008, and submissions will be processed via the web site.

Monday 3 November 2008


The 4th STAGE (Scientists, Technologists and Artists Generating Exploration) Script Competition is looking for plays that explore scientific and/or technological stories, themes, issues and/or events.

Science and technology must figure prominently in the script, whether in form or content or both. Biographical dramas, history plays, and medical dramas are discouraged unless they significantly employ science and/or technology. Authors are strongly urged to avoid the stereotypes often assigned to science, technology, and those who engage in these disciplines. This competition is not open to plays written in the genre of science fiction.

The deadline for entries is December 15, 2009.

More information about the guidelines for competition and the application process are available on the web site.

Friday 31 October 2008

BAFTA Nom for Skunk

Skunk Fu!, the children's animated television show, produced by the Irish company Cartoon Saloon with Telegael and Cake Entertainment, has been nominated for a Children's BAFTA in the Animation category.

The writers of the series are: Greg Grabianski, Thomas Krajewski, Eric Shaw, Aimee Keillor, and Scott Sonneborn.

The awards ceremony will place on 10 November in London.

Austin Round-Up

IFTN has posted the diary of new screenwriter, Eilis Mernagh, from her time pitching and networking at the Austin Film Festival.

Screenwriters who are considering attending Austin's four-day conference — which provides access to A-list producers, studio executives, agents and managers, screenwriters, and filmmakers — will find the article useful.

Arts Council Bursaries

The Arts Council, in its latest newsletter, has announced a new closing date for its first round of Bursary Awards in 2009: Thursday 27 November 2008 at 5.30pm.

The purpose of an Arts Council bursary is to support professional artists at all stages in their careers and in the development of their arts practice. The aim of the award is to allow artists, working in any context or in any artform, to buy space and freedom to concentrate on a body of work and provide the equipment, facilities and third party expertise to develop practice. Recipients can receive up to a maximum of €15,000 per year through the Bursary award. A number of multi-annual bursaries, which offer artists funding for up to a three-year period, are available each year.

Applications can be made using the online application system or by completing a paper form. The Arts Council encourages all those with internet access to apply using the online application process. Applicants using the online system will have an additional week – up to Thursday 4 December 2008, 5:30pm – to provide supporting documentation for their application.

All information on how to apply is available on the web site

SIOL Picks Six

SÍOL, an initiative to promote new screenwriting in the Irish language, has announced the six writers whose projects will progress into production:

Fiona Ní Eidhin ­- "Cinneadh"
Louise Ní Fhiannachta - "Crochta"
Medb Johnstone ­- "Ab initio"
Clíona Ruiséil - "Náire"
Kevin Lavelle agus Diarmuid Goggins ­ - "Papa Joe"
Fiona Ní Dhuibhir ­- "Ena"

SÍOL is supported by the Broadcast Commission of Ireland, Údaras na Gaeltachta, Gréasán na Meán and TG4.

The initiative will assist the chosen Irish language writers to develop and produce a television script that will be broadcast as a part of a major drama series on TG4.

The writers will develop their projects under the direction of series script Editor, Paul Mercier. The development will take place during writing masterclasses commencing at the end of November.

The series will be broadcast on TG4 for the Autumn/Winter schedule of 2009.

Thursday 30 October 2008

IFTA Nominations Open

IFTA has issued a call for nominations for the 6th Annual Irish Film & Television Awards.

The deadline for entries is Monday 17th November 2008 at 5.30pm.

The guidelines and criteria for nomination are available on the web site.

Niko Wins Double

Filmbase reports that the animated feature film Niko & the Way to the Stars won both the Jury and Audience awards at Cinekid, the children's film festival in Amsterdam last weekend. It's the first time in the festival's history that a film has won both prizes.

Ireland-based Marteinn Thorisson co-wrote the script with Hannu Tuomainen, and it was directed by Michael Hegner and Kari Juusonen. The film was co-produced by Finnish film company Anima Vitae, Ulysses Films in Germany (daughter company of Galway-based Magma) and Afilm in Denmark.

Speaking on the win Moe Honan producer with Magma Films says: "We are delighted with these prestigious awards and doubly happy that the film has not only impressed the main jury at Cinekid so much, but has also reached out to our main audience - the children, who also voted it as their favourite. It's a must see film this Christmas."

The film has been sold to more than 100 territories, with The Weinstein Company handling the English-language rights.

"Niko is currently on release in Finland and enjoying the highest audience figures ever for a children's movie after its second week. Altogether it has sold to over 120 countries and the Weinstein Company has bought the film for the US market and Pan Latin America," explains Ralph Christians, executive producer with Magma.

The film tells the story of a boy reindeer who longs to fly, and dreams of meeting his father who is a celebrity member of the famous Santa's Flying Forces. He is accompanied on his adventures by his friend Julius, a flying squirrel, and Wilma a singing weasel whom they meet along the way.

The Film will arrive to Irish cinema screens on November 28th.

FSTI Bursary Awards

Screenwriters should note that the FÁS Screen Training Ireland Bursary Award Scheme has funds available for industry practitioners who wish to undergo training overseas, or need funding for customised work programmes.

The scheme may also be in a position to support individuals who have secured an agreement with a high profile industry expert for the purpose of shadowing/mentoring.

We would encourage applicants to apply for programmes which would be beneficial to their career development.

Screen Training Ireland has supported Irish Industry Professionals through the Bursary Award Scheme to attend programmes such as Moonstone, North by Northwest, Arista, Showrunneres etc.

Applications can be made via the web site.

Son of Pitch Extended

The UK's Screenwriting Festival has extended the deadline for its Son of a Pitch competition (which it is running in association with 4Talent) to 17.00 on Friday 14th November 2008.

Ten lucky finalists will be chosen to come to the SWF'09 (for free), where they will receive a crash course in the art of pitching courtesy of agent Julian Friedmann. After this, each of the ten finalists will take to the main stage and 'wow' the festival delegates - and a panel of terribly serious dragon-like judges who will proceed to quiz you on the strengths and weaknesses of your idea. Simple as that. Of the ten... three will win (1st, 2nd and 3rd place). There are prizes but the real prize is the exposure that this event bestows on all ten of its pitchers. Exposure that can lead to... who knows where.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Google Book Search Expands

Market Watch reports that the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and Google have come to a settlement agreement regarding online access to millions of in-copyright books, and other written materials, in major U.S. libraries participating in Google Book Search.

The agreement, reached after two years of negotiations, would resolve a class-action lawsuit brought by book authors and the Authors Guild, as well as a separate lawsuit filed by five large publishers as representatives of the AAP's membership. The class action is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The agreement promises to benefit readers and researchers, and enhance the ability of authors and publishers to distribute their content in digital form, by significantly expanding online access to works through Google Book Search, an ambitious effort to make millions of books searchable via the Web. The agreement acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright owners, provides an efficient means for them to control how their intellectual property is accessed online and enables them to receive compensation for online access to their works.

Adapting Work

FÁS Screen Training Ireland is running a course on Adaptation in the Radisson Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8, from 12 — 16 December.

Participant Profile:
This course is designed for professional screenwriters and development executives working in the Irish film and television industry. Participants ideally should have an adaptation project currently in development.

Course Profile:
The purpose of this course is to explore the process of adapting pre-existing material to the screen. Writers will analyze how a variety of source material: novel, stage play, short story, magazine article, graphic novel and history, can transform into a successful cinema story. We will have group discussions to identify the challenges posed by each source. Writers will also explore the process by conceptualizing adaptations of pre-assigned short stories and discussing the results. Combining the creative and analytic will give students a deeper understanding of what it means to adapt stories from one medium to another. The course will explore the following:
  • Where stories come from
  • Conceptualisation
  • Comparative adaptation exercises
  • Adaptations from novels (case study: Remains of the Day)
  • Adaptations from plays (case study: Taming of the Shrew)
  • Adaptations from history/articles (case study: Saving Private Ryan)
  • Adaptations from short stories (case study: Rear Window)
  • Adaptations from comics/graphic novels (case study: American Splendor)

The tutor is L.A.-based writer and story analyst Beth Serlin, and the course costs €350. Applications can be made online, and the deadline is the 7th November 2008.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Financial Squeeze

Colum Kenny in Sunday's Independent offers analysis of the recent financial crisis and how it is affecting the Irish media market, for instance:

The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland has, in principle, awarded the Irish DTT franchise to a Swedish/Irish company, backed by Denis O'Brien, in order to provide extra new bundles of programming. A new Irish film channel is among other delights promised, but current conditions may not augur well for the future of DTT.

RTE must build a transmission system to deliver DTT to Irish homes. But it has yet to to reach agreement on terms with O'Brien's consortium Boxer. It could cost RTE €100m to build the planned system, and nobody is sure where that money can be found or how much Boxer will agree to pay for using it. There is a danger that RTE may have to borrow the cash, thus building up big debts for the station and possibly subsidising BOXER's private service with public money.

Eleven years ago, in 1997, RTE received just over €77m in TV licence fee payments from members of the public -- and earned €110m more by selling advertising space. By last year, those two streams of income had risen to more than €195m and €245m respectively. That was before the financial crisis, and already now RTE is trailing its projected income by €25m.

Recent figures on Irish advertising suggest a modest annual growth up to last summer, but the figures do not reveal discounts on the asking price, or take into account the sudden downturn that is now happening.

It's In The Can

Fimbase reports that the black and white thriller, Tin Can Man, written and directed by Irishman Ivan Kavanagh, won three international awards at this year's Melbourne Underground Film Festival: Best Foreign Film, Best Foreign Director (shared with British Director Thomas Clay for his film Soi Cowboy), and Best Foreign Actor for Michael Parle.

The film also scooped Best Cinematography for DOP Colin Downey at the Strasbourg International Film Festival. Last year the film won the Boundary Breaking Best Feature, and Patrick O'Donnell won Best International Actor at the Sydney Underground Film Festival.

Friday 24 October 2008

New Media, New Audience?

The Irish Arts Council has organised a working seminar, entitled New Media, New Audience?, on November 25th in Dublin Castle. The event is designed to discuss how new social networking technologies can help promote the arts.

"The Arts Council is pleased to bring together national and international experts from the arts, social media and broadcasting in this one day working seminar to explore the ways in which artists and the public are adapting and adopting new ways of producing, presenting and promoting the arts.

This seminar is open to artists, organisations and policy makers interested in the potential that new media has on the way in which they work, and in the way it can attract and broaden audiences.

The event is free, but registration is essential, and must be completed via the web site.

Maura McHugh, the webmaster and blogger for the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild, will be participating at the seminar.

Thursday 23 October 2008

Roles for Women on Stage & Screen

The results of a recent Europe-wide survey of female actors — as reported in The Stage — may be of interest to writers.

The results showed that:

79% of female performers consider their gender puts them at a disadvantage in relation to the number of roles on offer, while 73% feel their sex works against them in terms of role variety.

By contrast, 74% of male performers feel their gender is an advantage in relation to the number of roles available and 70% feel being male helps in terms of variety of roles.

Equity vice-president Jean Rogers, who was behind the formation of the survey, said the findings would be taken to governments across Europe in a bid to change the perception of women, claiming how women are portrayed on television and stage can impact on the way they are treated in society.

"We are finding in so many areas - not just where women are concerned - society is not being properly represented in the media," said Rogers. "It is getting very selective and it has such an impact on values and people’s perceptions - even if they don’t consciously realise it. If they only see people of a certain kind, that’s what they think is the norm." ...

Although its exact findings have yet to be finalised, its initial conclusions suggest men enjoy longer careers in television, film and theatre, with 71% of the 71-80 age group bracket being male.

Respondents were asked to state whether they felt age and gender is represented in a realistically varied way across all mediums. Although the majority of women said television is not realistic in its portrayal, theatre fared better, with 51% of female respondents claiming the medium does realistically portray age, compared with 75% of male participators.

The survey found that 57% of women feel theatre also represents gender in a realistically varied way, compared with 85% of men.

Wednesday 22 October 2008

The Emotional Toolbox

FÁS Screen Training Ireland is organising a course on The Emotional Toolbox – Creating Successful Television Drama, Online Series and Feature Films.

Writing Consultant Laurie Hutzler examines the emotional content of a television, online or film project and analyses how the production succeeds or fails in connecting with its audiences. Starting with an experiential exercise, she progresses, in stages, to help writers, producers and executives clarify the emotional bond between characters and the audience. The starting point of Laurie’s programme is the Character MapTM, which provides an accurate litmus test of the emotional experience in any creative project. Laurie Hutzler helps content creators get to the heart of the story.

The course will cover the following:
  • Principles of the Emotional Toolbox, including character types
  • Creating a character map
  • Sharpening character focus and strengthening ensembles
  • Strengthening a character’s function in the ensemble
  • Emotion and storytelling
  • Balance and diversity in an ensemble to create dynamism
  • Transitioning and repositioning characters
  • Creating stories from the ensemble: allies and enemies
  • Balancing guest stories and serial stories
  • Keeping characters relevant
  • Interactivity with the audience.

The course will take place on 17 — 18 November, 2008 at Adelaide Chambers, Peter St, Dublin 8, and costs €150.00.

Apply online on the web site. The deadline for applications is Thursday 6th November 2008.

Writer applicants can also email a synopsis for a TV drama, online series or feature for optional one-to-one meetings with Laurie on the 19th November. Places are limited so one-to-ones will be scheduled on a first-come basis.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Wednesdays Shortlisted

The Irish Film Board reports that the Irish short film, "The Wednesdays", has been selected as one of six finalists for the TCM Classic Shorts Competition.

The short was co-written by Luke Clancy and Conor Ferguson, and directed by Conor Ferguson.

The winners will be announced at an awards night on 29th October at London's National Film Theatre following a screening of all six shorts in contention for £10,000 in prizes. The shorts will later be broadcast on the TCM channel during a special Classic Shorts weekend.

This year's judges include directors Wolfgang Peterson (Perfect Storm, Troy) and Agnieszka Holland (The Wire), and legendary actor Rutger Hauer (Bladerunner, Batman Begins).

Ferguson's second short film, "Atlantic", which he wrote and directed, was also Highly Commended in the competition.

Virtual Cinema 2

The Irish Film Board is looking for applications for another round of its Virtual Cinema project.

Virtual Cinema is a new scheme for the making of high-quality short films that are suited to the new forms of digital video consumption. Films made under the scheme can be live-action or use any kind of animation technique. The deadline for Virtual Cinema 2008 is November 21st. The scheme aims to encourage exploration of fresh filmmaking ground, with no creative holds barred. Deliberately, no guidelines are offered at this stage with regard to content or style, though material likely to give serious offence is unlikely to be funded.

Films may be made in Irish or English.

Parameters of the Scheme
  • Number of films: up to 10 per year
  • Duration: maximum 2 minutes
  • Budget per film: maximum €2,000
  • Origination on any digital format or flash animation
  • Delivery on digital format suitable for distribution/exhibition

All information on how to apply is available on the web site.

Monday 20 October 2008

Cork Winners 08

The Cork Film Festival has announced the winners of its Short film Awards:

Best Irish Short Film
"Féileachán/Driving Lesson" written & directed by Cecilia McAllister

Special Mentions:
"Danger High Voltage" written by Thomas Martin; directed by Luke McManus
"An Foireann Codladh" written by Guy Fee; directed by Danann Breathnach

Claire Lynch Award for Best First-Time Irish Director of a Short Film
"The Door" written & directed by Juanita Wilson

Special Mentions:
"Out Of The Blue" written & directed by Michael Lavelle
"The Rooster, The Crocodile And The Night Sky" written & directed by Padraig Fagan

Best International Short Film
"2 Birds" written & directed by Rúnar Rúnarsson, Iceland

Special Mentions:
"Clean Hands, Dirty Soap" written by Adam Mourad; directed by Karim Fanous, Egypt
"Giants" written & directed by Fabio Mollo, Italy

Prix UIP Cork for Best European Short Film
"14" written & directed by Asitha Ameresekere, England

'Made In Cork' Award for Best Short Film
"Matty Kiely's Last Day" written & directed by Ed Godsell

Special Mentions:
"Afternoons With Johnny" written & directed by Maximilian le Cain
"Rock With Your Cork Out" written & directed by Egomotion

Youth Jury Award for Best International Short Film
"Giants" written & directed by Fabio Mollo, Italy

Gradam Gael Linn for Best Short Film in the Irish Language
"An Foireann Codladh" written by Guy Fee; directed by Danann Breathnach

Award of the Festival for Best Short Film
"Journey To The Forest" written & directed by Jörn Staeger, Germany

Outlook Award for Best LGBT Short Film
"James" written & directed by Conor Clements

Audience Award for Best Irish Short Film
"Out Of The Blue" written & directed by Michael Lavelle

Audience Award for Best International Short Film
"On The Line" written by Reto Caffi & Philippe Zweifel; directed by Reto Caffi, Switzerland

Often short films are written and directed by the same person, however this is not always the case as can be seen in the above sample.

Most film festivals (including the Irish ones) never credit the writer. In order to complete this list I had to conduct investigative research in order to discover if there were separate writers for the above films - quite a number turned up.

It's downright shameful to laud the director, and often the producer, of a short film and omit the writer. Film Festivals should make it their policy to credit the writer of any film - short or feature-length.

Otherwise they are participating in a type of creative theft.

Friday 17 October 2008

ZeBBies Nominations Close

Nominations are now closed for the second annual ZeBBies Awards.

The short-list of nominated scripts will be available to all current members for reading and voting via the guild website during November.

Tickets for the Awards Ceremony, which will take place on Tuesday 25th November, are now on sale. Numbers are limited, so please contact the Guild quickly to book your tickets and avoid disappointment.

Tightening the Belt

Maurice Foley, Deputy Chair of the Irish Arts Council has responded to the recent budget announced by the Irish government, which has resulted in a 10% reduction of the Arts Council's budget:

"In these difficult times, the enrichment of our lives by the arts is more necessary than ever. The arts are not a luxury and they have massive public support - just look at the huge attendances at the summer/autumn festivals all over the country and the sell out of the current 40 venue Gate Theatre tour. Arts Council support is essential for all such events and for many, many more.

"The arts also make a pivotal contribution to our tourist industry and towards maintaining Ireland as a creative, knowledge-based, high-value economic hub.

"For most of the organisations we fund, our support is essential and it is well leveraged by talented artists, capable managers and enthusiastic volunteers. Public funding of the arts increased considerably in recent years, from a low base, and it was well spent. The inevitable cuts will jeopardise much of this investment. The public can expect fewer festivals, fewer exhibitions, less theatre and less music. Individual artists can expect fewer bursaries. There are also likely to be job losses.

"The Council will continue to do its best to maximise the value to the public and the arts community of the funds it has to invest. However, significant grant cuts are unavoidable, conditional commitments will have to be reviewed and some organisations will need funds from other sources if they are to survive. The Council will vigorously make the case for better funding in 2010. However, for now we recognise that the arts are in a new funding environment and that we must all plan accordingly and face up to very difficult decisions."

Thursday 16 October 2008

Budget Changes

Bord Scannan na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board has commented on the Irish government's 2009 budget, which brought a 12% reduction in the IFB's funding.

James Morris, Chairman, Bord Scannan na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board said:

"The Budget announcement of a reduction in the Irish Film Board's funding for 2009 masks the real increases in the agency's funding in 2005, 2006 and 2007, which have been retained for next year. In the current economic climate the retention of funding to the level of 2007 indicates the importance placed by the Minister and the Department of Arts Sport and Tourism on supporting the Irish film and television production sector. The Board will be prioritizing its investments into production activity levels in 2009 and on this basis expects to maintain the current levels of production."

"In the context of the reduction in direct industry funding, the Irish Film Board's submission to the Minister for Arts Sport and Tourism to seek specific enhancements to Section 481 is of particular importance. The submission focuses on enhancements that would significantly restore Ireland's competitive edge as a location for international film production, generating economic activity well in excess of any cost incurred. In this regard discussions are on going between the Department of Arts Sport and Tourism and the Department of Finance with a final outcome expected with the publication of the Finance Bill in November."

Whilst the Government's 2009 Budget focused on creating new business and enterprise, this year IFB-funded film and television projects contributed an estimated total of over €70 million to the Irish economy, showing a significant return on government investment in this sector. The industry continues to provide local jobs and sustained international investment to the economy. A wide range of feature film productions filmed in counties all across Ireland bringing much needed expenditure to local business in regional areas and promoting Irish culture to international audiences around the world.

Media NI Closes

Northern Ireland Screen has announced that Media Service Northern Ireland will close down this month.

From November 1st the UK MEDIA Desk based at the UK Film Council in London will assume the promotion of the MEDIA Programme and provide advice to the professionals based in Northern Ireland.

NI Shorts

Northern Ireland Screen, in conjunction with the UK Film Council, have announced their new Digital Shorts Scheme 2008/09 in Northern Ireland.

There are three different sources of funding:

Digital Shorts

*Eight projects will be selected from writer/director and writer and director teams to go through an initial development process starting in December 2008.
* Applicants can submit up to three projects for consideration under the Digital Shorts Scheme.
* Four films of up to ten minutes in duration will be selected in February 2009 to go into production in May 2009.
* The production budget for a Digital Short film is £10,000. A production company will be attached to the four projects through the production process.
* Final delivery will take place in August 2009.
* The deadline for entries to Digital Shorts is Friday 14 November 2008.

Digital Nation (formerly Digital Shorts Plus)
* Digital Nation invites applications from writers, directors and writer/directors who are ready to make the leap to more ambitious cinematic short films.
* Following the Digital Shorts interviews, the UK Film Council and Northern Ireland Screen will select filmmakers to be put forward for the Digital Nation talent pool.
* In March 2009 the UK Film Council will select the filmmakers who will participate in the Digital Nation talent pool.
* The UK Film Council will select up to 28 filmmakers or up to 2 filmmakers from each region or nation.
* The budget for a Digital Nation film will be between £18,000 and £20,000.
* The deadline for entries to Digital Nation is Friday 14 November 2008.

4Mations Animated Digital Shorts Scheme
* 4mations Digital Shorts will open for applications on 10th October and close on the 10th November.
* Short-listed applicants will need to be available for interview in London on Monday 8 December 2008 at 12pm.
* If you are an animator then you should apply to that scheme through the 4mations website

Application forms and more information are available from the web site.

Wednesday 15 October 2008

IT up for Emmy

The Stage reports that the short-list for the International Emmy nominations has been released.

The International Emmys acknowledge excellence in international television programming outside of the USA.

The IT Crowd, created and written by Irish screenwriter Graham Linehan, has been nominated for best comedy.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

What the BBC Wants

On the BBC Writersroom Blog they've put together a collection of links to video interviews with various BBC Execs, in which they discuss matters to do with commissioning work for the BBC.

Tony Doyle Bursary 09

BBC Northern Ireland is once again looking for applicants for the Tony Doyle Bursary for New Writing.

The aim of the bursary is to encourage television drama about Ireland by writers new to the medium. This may include writers experienced in other forms of fiction as well as new writers.

The winner will receive a cash prize of £2,000. The winner along with 3 finalists will be invited to a residential seminar run by the BBC Northern Ireland Drama Department. The aim of the seminar is to introduce the writers to the world of television drama through a series of intensive sessions with the BBC Northern Ireland development team and experienced practitioners - producers, directors, actors and fellow writers. We intend to announce the winner and runners-up in January or early February 2009 and to hold the seminar in April 2009.

More details on the submission process are available on the web site. The deadline for applications is 30 November 2008.