Thursday 31 January 2008

DIFF '08

The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival will be on from February 15-24, and will feature a large selection of Irish and international films, a Jonas Mekas Retrospective, an examination of the impact of Music on Film, and a focus on New Italian Cinema.

The festival will also showcase a special screening of Irish Film Board funded short films. It will offer an opportunity for festival-goers to see both established and emerging Irish filmmakers. Many of the films have been acclaimed both in Ireland and internationally, and cover a diverse range of subjects and genres.

New Media Course in NI

IFTN reports that Campbell Ryan Film productions in association with Northern Ireland Screen will host a free New Media Writers workshop in Belfast. Nuno Bernardo, creator of the interactive TV series Sofia's Diary, will tutor the course.

The New Media workshop is an opportunity to learn about this rapidly evolving medium from one of the acknowledged global experts. The workshop will run on the 9th and 10th February at Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast.

Nuno Bernardo is Manager of beActive Produções Interactivas and creator of the interactive TV series 'Sofia's Diary'. She is considered to be a leading world expert in New Media and has given seminars at Venice Digitale, MIPCOM France and BAFTA London.

The workshop is free and split into stages over two days. A the end of the first day writers who are interested in developing their own New Media project, and also the possibility of working with Campbell Ryan Productions, will leave their contact details at the seminar and be given the chance to pitch their ideas in the final part of the workshop the next day.

Campbell Ryan Productions are seeking new individual writers for an upcoming new media production series so the workshop is an opportunity to showcase your writing skills.
Places on the course are limited and the closing date for applications is Wednesday 6th of February. Details about how to apply are on the web site.

Wednesday 30 January 2008

The Big Secret

Robert J. Elisberg, writing in the Huffington Post discusses the great secret of filmmaking as discussed by legendary Hollywood executive, Irving Thalberg.

Irving Thalberg knew both the craft and business of movie-making together as well as anyone ever in Hollywood. Here's what Irving Thalberg said about writers:

"The most important part in filmmaking is played by the writers. We must do everything in our power to keep them from finding out."

The writers have found out.

And the AMPTP corporations have only themselves to blame. They opened the hidden door, turned on the overhead light, and let writers inside to read the magic book.

Here's what the Book of Secrets says. There's only one chapter.

"In order to make anything, we need a script.

"Audiences pay or tune in to see actors, but actors need something to say. Directors bring everything together, but directors can't direct a blank page.
According to Elisberg, once writers have realised their originating power then they should go out and create their own projects and bypass the studio system, thanks in part to the Internet. Which some writers are already doing because the current strike has prompted them into this action. Elisberg believes the AMPTP have made a huge mistake in forcing the writers into examining their traditional relationships with the studios:
It's a blunder of epic proportions, because the door the AMPTP opened also leads to copyright ownership for writers. And this has been their Holy Grail for decades. And the AMPTP corporations brought this all on themselves.

Tuesday 29 January 2008

3m Increase for NI Arts

According to The Stage the arts in Northern Ireland have obtained a £3 million boost in funding after a protest campaign against the original inadequate budget.

The announcement comes after a several years of "chronic under-funding" and a proposal in the Assembly's draft budget that arts council chairman Rosemary Kelly described as "tantamount to sounding a death knell over large areas of arts activity". The new allocation of £7.55 million for 2008/11 represents a 67% increase on the original sum proposed for the period and includes £1.7 million for the year ahead.

While welcoming the new money, arts council chief executive Roisin McDonough also noted that the allocation still fell short of the funding necessary for Northern Ireland's arts sector to achieve parity with its British and Irish neighbours.

"It means we are now in a better position to look after the needs of our core organisations," she said. "But the additional £1.7 million for 2008/9, while certainly an improvement, won't be enough to sustain all of our clients and falls well short of the extra £9 million per annum needed to help us to develop a truly healthy and vibrant arts sector."
The finance minister, Peter Robinson, also announced a £5 million Creative Industries Seed Fund that will be administered by the Arts Council.

Monday 28 January 2008

WGA Sign More Deals

Even though the WGA is in a media blackout over its ongoing talks with the AMPTP, the Union is still signing interim deals with Hollywood studios. United Hollywood reports that independents, Lionsgate and Marvel Studios, have agreed to the WGA's terms.

The other companies that have already signed to the deal are: United Artists, The Weinstein Company, Worldwide Pants, Spyglass Entertainment, MRC, Jackson Bites, Mandate Films, and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment.

Friday 25 January 2008

Masterclass Bursaries

FÁS Screen Training Ireland has announced two special bursaries each worth €10,500 to attend the Entertainment Masterclass.

The deadline for applications for the Entertainment Masterclass is the 3rd of March 2008. Applicants who are successful in securing places on the Master Class will be considered for bursaries.

The Entertainment Masterclass, a one-year part-time advanced training programme, is aimed at developing a Format Academy for the entertainment television industry. In a unique education programme, a select circle of talent will learn the craft and business of formatting from leading figures in international entertainment television.

Renowned creators, producers, managers, distributors and lawyers offer lectures, presentations and one-on-one sessions that give invaluable insights about how the business runs, directing the participants through the process of developing, pitching, casting, producing, scheduling, marketing and distributing a format.
The participation fee for the full programme, including hotel accommodation and full board, is €15,000.

Wednesday 23 January 2008

BBC 3 Plans Integration

According to The Stage the BBC3 controller Danny Cohen plans to turn the channel into a "multi-platform experience", where TV and the internet combine to create a single, integrated offering.

Also as part of BBC3's new look, Cohen said user-generated content will be put at the "heart of the peak time schedule" and viewers will be able to record their own introductions to programmes, that will then be broadcast on BBC3.

"BBC3 should be known for pioneering risk. It should be obsessed with everything new - new talent, new programmes and new relationships with TV and the web," he said.

In terms of drama, Cohen said BBC3 was "committed to creating a consistent supply of imaginative drama" and added he had lined up six original pilots that will be shown from next month.

Tuesday 22 January 2008

David Simon Talks Strike

American screenwriter David Simon started his career as a journalist, and eventually wrote a novel that became the basis of the series Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-1999) (executive producer Tom Fontana). He wrote the book The Corner, which became a six-part series, and he is the creator, executive producer, and head writer of the hit American television series The Wire.

He will be in the Irish Film Institute tomorrow, Wednesday 23rd, from 5pm to 6pm to bring members of the IPSG up to speed on the current status of the screenwriters' strike in the USA.

Will the Oscars go ahead? Is the new deal agreed by the Directors Guild a template for a writers' deal? Will the pilots' season go ahead? Are the writers still united? Are the companies completely mad?

Behind all the noise the fact remains that this strike will decide the way in which writers are paid for the use of their material on the internet, and by extension will have a dramatic effect on the development of a market for all writers.

This meeting for Guild members is designed to give Irish writers an inside look at the issues from the American writers' perspective, and to allow members the opportunity to ask questions about the strike.

New Drama Competition

The Windsor Fringe Marriott Award for New Drama Writing has announced its call for submissions. The deadline for entries is the 29th of February.

The award is for amateur writers only, and only one script, under 30 minutes long, can be entered. Scripts will not be accepted by email. Plays must not have been previously performed, must be the original work of the entrant, and should be suitable for staging in a studio theatre with no more than six actors.

Three authors' works will be shortlisted and performed on the last three nights of The Windsor Fringe Festival during October 2008. The winner of the £500 award will be announced on the final night.

Euroscript 08

The deadline for entries for the 2008 Euroscript Competition is the 31st of March.

The winning writer will receive one-on-one professional guidance to develop his/her screen story from treatment or first draft. Working closely with one of Euroscript's professional script consultants, the writer will have the opportunity to complete up to three drafts with a full script report at each stage of the development process. In addition, the writer will have regular scheduled meetings with his/her consultant and continuing email and telephone support. At the end of the process, which will take place over a period of between six to nine months, the winning writer will be given help and advice on marketing the script.
To enter applicants need to submit a two-page prose outline of the story they want to develop, plus ten pages of sample script, and an entry fee of £35.

Monday 21 January 2008

Irish Theatre Awards Shortlist

RTÉ reports that the nominees for the 2008 Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards have been announced.

The playwrights nominated in the Best New Play category are: Sebastian Barry (The Pride of Parnell Street), Michael Harding (The Tinker's Curse), Sean McLoughlin (Noah and the Tower Flower) and Mark O'Rowe (Terminus).

The winners will be announced in Dublin on Sunday 24 February.

Frameworks Deadline

The Irish Film Board has announced the deadline for the short animation scheme Frameworks as Wednesday, March 12th.

Frameworks is an established scheme for the making of animated short films which has been incredibly successful in stimulating ground-breaking new work from Irish animators. Projects selected for funding will combine creative exploration with an ability to appeal to a broad audience.

Recent successes of this scheme include Blind Man's Eye directed by Matthew Talbot-Kelly made Official Selection at the prestigious Venice Film Festival 2007 while it was announced earlier this week that The Crumblegiant, directed by John McCloskey has been nominated for a BAFTA for Best Short Animation.

The scheme is co-funded by BSÉ/IFB, the Arts Council and RTÉ.

Friday 18 January 2008

IFB in Berlin

The Irish Film Board will have a presence at this year's Berlin Film Festival (February 7th - 17th) in the European Film Market. The IFB will be sharing a stand with Film Holland, and will be distributing promotional material about Irish films and festivals.

The IFB will also be distributing promotional Irish film flyers detailing the times of all Irish films screening in the festival and market. If you would like the screening details of your film to be including please forward all details to me ASAP.

The IFB will be distributing lists of Irish delegates attending the festival. If you would like to be listed as one of the Irish delegates please fill out the attached form and return to Suzanne Murray (

The IFB is also organising a networking reception again this year at the Movenpick Hotel on Sunday 10th February. Irish delegates are invited to attend. Again please send us your details if you are traveling to the festival so that we can forward invitations early next week.

Future Planning

The Guardian has an interesting article on how entertainment companies are planning on making money in the future with the advent of new technologies and the establishment of on-demand television.

Mobile Comedy

The Stage reports that ITV has created 50 two-minute episodes of a new comedy series called The Gym specifically for mobile phone platforms.

The Gym is being made by multi-platform production company Hub TV and is designed to be watched on all mobile phone networks through ITV Mobile, the broadcaster's mobile portal that can be accessed on all WAP-enabled phones.
The new series will be available for download to mobile phones daily from Monday, and a week later it will appear on ITV's website.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

New Media Signs Deal

The WGA continues to make interim deals with companies, this time with new media company MRC.

Though not a household name, MRC is an independent film, television, and digital studio with backing from significant institutional investors, including Goldman Sachs and AT&T. Most importantly, they have over a dozen original made-for-the-Internet properties with many more to come. This is a significant signing in that it hails the paradigm shift to original content for new media, produced and distributed under a WGA contract without the involvement of a major studio or network.

This deal began as an effort to get Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane and his writers a WGA contract on fifty webisodes which are being produced for Google. It quickly developed into a negotiation with MRC that would cover all of its Internet content (including projects with Larry David, Gordon Ramsay, and Second City), as well as a full slate of independently financed feature films and television series.

Tuesday 15 January 2008

Bite-sized plays

White Room Theatre is running a competition to discover the best five new 10-minute plays. Winners will be performed in the Brighton Fringe Festival in May 2008.

The pieces should require few set/props, and pieces that are edgy, funny and/or poignant, highly engaging, accessible, and even eccentric are welcomed.

White Room Theatre is also seeking scripts that have an educational / entertaining slant on organisational life for their organisational development work.

The deadline for emailed entries is the end of February. In March or April the company will offer performed readings in Brighton of the best 20 applicants. A judging panel of professional experts will evaluate and provide feedback to the writers, and nominate the winners. Check the web site for details on the application process.

Pitch in Time

The UK Screenwriters Festival is holding a "Pitch in Time" competition in association with Channel 4's More Talent.

To enter, write a pitch for a feature film in 25 words or less, and on a separate page expand the synopsis to 150 words and email it to the organisers (information on the website).

Ten writers will be chosen to appear at the live pitching event at the Festival, and will receive a free ticket to the entire festival, as well as a personal coaching session from pitching session agent Julian Friedmann. All the pitchers will get feedback on their pitch, and three pitchers will be selected as winners. They will then get the chance to talk directly with Film4 executives about their ideas.

Closing Date for entries is midnight Friday 29th February 2008, and the short-listed winners will be informed the week of Monday 17th March 2008.

Monday 14 January 2008

Weinsteins sign WGA Deal

The WGA and the Weinstein Company have signed an interim deal that allows writers to go back to work and into development with The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films, the genre division under the TWC banner.

David Young, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, West and WGA chief negotiator, said: "The Guild is proud to move forward with The Weinstein Company and hopes that other studios will follow its example. The conglomerates walked away from bargaining and have refused to resume negotiations, but this shows we can sign deals that are fair for writers and the companies that employ them."

The terms of the agreement are similar to the Guild's recent deals with Worldwide Pants and United Artists.

David Simon Masterclass

On the 24th of January, in the Fizwilliam Hotel, Dublin, there will be a half-day masterclass on writing for television with David Simon, writer, producer, and creator of the TV series The Wire.

The masterclass will explore such issues as the writing process, the writer as exec producer, developing story and character, and the current US television drama landscape. Go to the FÁS Screen Training Ireland web site for details on how to apply.

Scene Analysis in Galway

FÁS Screen Training Ireland is running a 6-day Scene Analysis course in February in the Harbour Hotel in Galway, which will be taught by Beth Serlin. The aim of the course is to explore the precise craft of writing scenes for film. Through the medium of course work participants will apply their learning to their own scripts. All details about how to apply are on the web site.

Globes 08

The 65th Golden Globe Award Winners have been announced. The best screenplay for a motion picture was won by Ethan and Joel Coen, for No Country for Old Men, and Daniel Day Lewis won best actor for his performance in There Will be Blood.

Friday 11 January 2008

Irish Digital Futures

The Irish Film Board is holding an information session on filmmaking for the digital generation to coincide with the launch of its new Virtual Cinema scheme. It will take place on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 2.30pm in Filmbase, Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

The discussion will focus on opportunities for online content, and what applicants need to know about the new scheme -- including the application procedure. The discussion will not be about digital distribution.

Eamon Keane 08

The Listowels Writers Week (May 28 - June 1) has established a range of writing competitions, including the Eamon Keane Full Length Play Award.

One act plays are not eligible. Plays submitted should be for stage presentation only and should not have previously been staged. Plays can only be submitted once for this competition, re-submissions will automatically be disqualified.
First prize is €1,000. All entries must be accompanied with a €20 fee.

Deadline for applications is Friday February 29th, 2008.

Thursday 10 January 2008

2008 IFTA Nominees

The short list for the 2008 Irish Film & Television Awards has been announced. Of interest to Guild members are two categories:

Script – Film
Tom Collins – Kings (Newgrange Pictures)
Mark O'Halloran – Garage (Element Pictures)
Mark O'Rowe – Boy A (Cuba Pictures)
Stuart Townsend – Battle in Seattle (Insight Film Studios)

Script - Television
Marcus Fleming – The Running Mate (Rubicon Films)
Mark O’Halloran – Prosperity (Element Pictures)
Daniel O’Hara, Paddy C.Courtney – Paddywhackery (Dough Productions)
Aisling Walsh – Damage (Subotica Entertainment)

A full list of all nominees can be obtained from the web site.

Wednesday 9 January 2008

The Shaw Reel

IFTN reports that Future Shorts Ireland is starting a new monthly event called "The Shaw Reel", on Saturday January 12th at The Bernard Shaw pub, 11 - 12 Sth. Richmond Street, Portobello, D2 at 4pm.

The screening, which will present 'The Best of 2007', will feature innovative films from around the globe as well as homegrown projects. The evening will also include visuals and interactive media, and finish with music provided by Bodytonic, with DJs until close.

The line-up includes Jonas Odell's animation about lost virginity 'Never like the First Time' (Sweden); Patrick Daughter's music video '1,2,3,4' (USA); the multi-award winning Czech thriller 'Tricko' ['The T-Shirt'] and Vincent Patar and Stephanie Aubier's short 'Le Relax' (Belgium).

The event is aimed at filmmakers and film lovers, or anyone looking for an alternative evening's entertainment.

Tuesday 8 January 2008

UA sign with WGA

The WGA has announced that it has signed another interim deal, this time with United Artists:

This company, now co-owned by Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise, has been legendary for its collaborative and cooperative relationships with writers and the talent community, so it is only fitting that it be the first film studio to make an agreement with us.
Rumours have it that several other smaller studios are keen to sign to the agreement, and get scripts and development back on track.

The Idea of the Writer

David Milch (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, Deadwood) delivered a series of free lectures in New York in December entitled The Idea of the Writer, which are now all online to view.

Monday 7 January 2008

Actors Boycott Globes

The BBC reports that the Screen Actors' Guild (SAG) in the USA has decided to boycott the forthcoming Golden Globes Awards to support the continuing WGA strike.

Union president Alan Rosenberg said there was "unanimous agreement" not to cross picket lines set up by writers who are on strike over royalties.

The Golden Globes, awarded to actors in television and film, are second in prestige only to the Oscars.

Without top actors present, TV networks may not bother to screen the event.
It appears that the Oscars ceremony is under threat also, if the strike is not resolved in the coming months.

Update: The Golden Globes ceremony has been cancelled and will be replaced by a a press conference and scaled-back red carpet event.

Critics Vote for Garage

RTÉ reports that Garage, written by Mark O'Halloran and directed by Leonard Abrahamson has been named Best Irish Film of 2007 by the Dublin Film Critics Circle. Second and third place went to Once and Kings respectively.

08 Galway Script Awards

The Deadline for the 2008 RTE/GFC Short Script Awards is 5pm Monday 28th January 2008.

The Short Script Awards are open to emerging filmmakers with original scripts that display a strong cinematic vision and a fresh Irish perspective. We welcome applications for films up to 15 minutes.

Designed to promote filmmaking throughout the regions, the scheme is open to filmmakers from all over Ireland. Three awards will be allocated from a total production fund of €30,000 with use of the facilities of Galway Film Centre a key constituent of these awards.

Friday 4 January 2008

Filmbase Deadline Jan 08

The Filmbase/RTÉ Short Film Awards 2008 opens for applications on the 11th of January and closes at 5pm on the 25th January 2008.

Awards are open to drama, animation and experimental works to be completed on film or broadcast quality video. The award will comprise of approximately €10,000. Successful candidates will also receive a production package with up to 5 days of production equipment hire and 3 weeks of post-production hire.

For more information on the application process go to the web site.

PJ O'Connor Awards '08

The deadline for applications for the RTÉ P.J. O'Connor Radio Drama Awards is March 18th 2008. Entry forms and competition rules are available on the web site.

The awards "...were established in 1983 to honour the late P. J. O'Connor, former Head of Drama in RTÉ Radio 1, who was noted for his encouragement of new talent. The aim of the competition is to encourage new writers to radio drama and to increase awareness of the possibilities and scope of radio as a medium in the field of drama."

Thursday 3 January 2008

Seminar on USA Visa

Richard Burke, a British actor based in LA, is running a one-day seminar on the ins and outs of the USA visa application process.

Not only will this seminar focus on the legalities of the 3-Year Unrestricted Work Visa, but Richard will impart his expertise on "How to make it in Hollywood".

His advice includes basics of the business such as Agents/ Managers, info on how to get into SAG/AFTRA, were to train, who is worth contacting, the pros and cons of Pilot Season verses the Independent Film Industry, all sound practical information, tried and tested that will save you time and money.

This seminar will give you a step by step guide, with all the information on making the transition from being an artist based in Ireland to one living and working in Los Angeles.
The seminar is taking place on Saturday the 5th of January, 2008, from 11am - 2.30pm at Filmbase in Temple Bar, Dublin2. It costs €70 on the door. For more information check out the web site.

Wednesday 2 January 2008

Coen Films in Dublin

The IFI in Temple Bar, Dublin is hosting a Coen Brothers Retrospective from Jan 5th - Jan 27th. Classics such as Barton Fink, Fargo, Miller's Crossing, etc. will be available to see in their full glory on the big screen.

New Year New Deals

The WGA has struck an independent deal with David Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company, and as of this evening both Late Night with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson will be broadcast on CBS with scripts completed by their writers. This deal has been possible because Worldwide Pants owns both the shows and licenses them to CBS.

The agreement would bind Mr. Letterman’s company to the proposals the guild was prepared to propose to the producers before talks broke off earlier this month, including payment for material used on the Web and in other new media.

"We are a writer-friendly company," Rob Burnett, the chief executive of Worldwide Pants, said in a telephone interview. "We don't have a problem giving the writers what they are asking for. We think they deserve it, and we're happy to give it to them."
Other talk shows are also returning to the airwaves tonight, but without their writers. They include: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel Live in Los Angeles, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien in New York.

The WGA has decided to picket the studios where these shows are being broadcast:
Our picket will not be of the hosts themselves but the companies for which their shows are produced. Our purpose is to continue awareness of our strike and the media conglomerates against which we strike, and to encourage performers, politicians and others to honor our picket line and not appear as guests on these struck programs.

Nothing at all personal or defamatory is intended and we will take all measures to make sure the public and press are aware of our motives and issues.

If the companies want these shows to be back on the air with the writers whose creativity and talent make them so successful, the answer is simple. Bargain in good faith, negotiate, make a deal.

Virtual Cinema Deadline

Irish Film Board has announced that Friday, February 14 2008 is the deadline for the new short film scheme Virtual Cinema

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 can use any kind of animation technique.

The scheme aims to encourage exploration of fresh filmmaking ground, with no creative holds barred and films may be made in Irish or English.

The IFB are funding up to 10 films with a maximum duration of 2 minutes and a maximum budget of €2,000.