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