The Times reports on an recent article in Film Ireland, in which Kevin Moriarty, head of Ardmore Studios, criticises the Irish film industry.
Pointing to the "depressing" box-office performance of movies made in Ireland last year, Moriarty says it's because Irish film-makers are preoccupied with artistic aspirations and do not take on board the need to engage the audiences that pay to see films.
"At the very least there has to be a story that engages you, characters that interest you. I don't walk out of films but there are times I think to myself 'Why am I wasting my time here?' because I don't care about what happens to these characters; I'm no longer interested in them. Sometimes people forget that the purpose of film-making is storytelling and entertainment. That doesn't mean that you have to sell out your artistic integrity," said Moriarty.
Although a record number of Irish people went to the cinema last year, indigenous films accounted for just 1.3% of box office receipts, earning just over €1.5m out of the €117m taken.
Only two Irish titles made it into the top 100: Lenny Abrahamson's Garage, starring Pat Shortt, which was 90th; and Strength and Honour, starring Vinnie Jones and Michael Madsen, which ranked 100th.
Moriarty believes Irish films need to focus more on developing scripts before shooting begins. Writing in the current issue of Film Ireland magazine, he says: "My first instinct is to recall too many Irish films that would have benefited from further script drafts before getting to the screen. There is an absence of a core structure, a surface (even superficial) storyline that allows the audience to navigate its way.
"The film-maker has an obligation to every member of the audience. We all pay for our tickets. Some may only be looking for a night of entertainment. The creative artist should be able to provide that while still satisfying all other artistic aspirations through a multi-layered approach."
Since Moriarty focuses on the need for stronger scripts, it would make sense for him to mention in his piece that Mark O'Halloran wrote Garage, and Mark Mahon wrote Strength and Honour.
Later in the article, David Kavanagh from the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild is quoted:
"The writer sells everything to the producer and is paid the same whether the film is good or bad. If we could design a system whereby the writer was paid more if the film was a success, as is the norm everywhere else, maybe we would get the kind of successful film that Kevin, and indeed everyone else, wants."
Unlike in America, Irish writers are paid a one-off fee for delivering a script and then have no control over the film. Most earn between €10,000 and €15,000 a year. "I don't disagree with Kevin that Irish feature film has been disappointing at the box office," said Kavanagh. "We've got stuck in a strange loop whereby many of the people involved in production [derive] no benefit from the film being successful."