Friday 30 January 2009

Belfast Book Festival

The first Belfast Book Festival (February 24 - March 1 2009) has announced its programme, which will include over 30 events at venues across the city, including the Linen Hall and Central libraries, and will be opened by Booker Prize winner John Banville.

The festival will feature readings, talks, open mics, discussions, films, and workshops on a variety of topics and themes about creative writing.

Belfast Book Festival director David Lewis said: 'The Belfast Book Festival is for everyone who reads and enjoys books, and we are delighted with the roll call of writers and artists who are set to feature in this, our inaugural year.

'We want to destroy any stuffy stereotypes. That's why Hot Press writer Peter Murphy, former NME editor Stuart Bailie and Ulster music legend Terri Hooley will be reading rock writing at the Oh Yeah Centre. And any budding poets out there will be given a rare opportunity to attend a masterclass with Claire KilroyCiaran Carson, director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry.'

Other unusual events include bilingual workshops for children in Irish and Ulster Scots with writer and illustrator Stephen Hall, a debate on historical fiction, a Dead Poets' Society with recordings of writers from beyond the grave and a tour of Bairds printers in Antrim.

Libraries and arts organisations across Northern Ireland, including the Linen Hall Library,, the Verbal Arts Centre and the Belfast Education and Library Board, have joined forces to create the new festival.

'By working together we can have a major impact next year and in the years to come,' Lewis added. 'The Belfast Book Festival will reflect Belfast's growing international reputation in the field of literature and our exuberant contemporary writing scene.'

Playwright Loses Court Battle

The Stage reports that a case taken by Irish playwright Gerard Mannix Flynn against the Dublin Theatre Festival, alleging breach of contract, was dismissed by Judge Jacqueline Linnane in the Irish Circuit Civil Court.

Flynn was suing for €38,000 in damages, claiming the Dublin Theatre Festival reneged on an agreement to include one of his productions in its 50th anniversary programme in 2007. Judge Linnane awarded costs against Mr Flynn, and said she was satisfied he had failed to prove the existence of the verbal contract he claimed to have made.

Flynn said later he will appeal the decision to the Irish High Court.

Thursday 29 January 2009

NI Screen Skills

Northern Ireland Screen (NIS) is open for applications for its 30-week Screen Skills development programme, which begins in March 2009.

It's a paid placement scheme (minimum wage), and participants will gain experience on NIS funded projects as well as within independent television production companies.

Participants will be mentored by former Northern Ireland Screen trainees who are now established freelance crew members working in the UK film and television sector. They will also be given an individual Training Needs Analysis and attend short courses run by Skillset accredited organisations.

The programme will provide training opportunities for 6 junior freelancers who have had at least one year’s experience at runner level.

Only legal resident of the UK can apply. The deadline for receipt of entries is Friday 20 February 2009, and application forms can be downloaded from the web site.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

JDIFF 09 Lineup

The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival announced its programme for this year's festival, and tickets are now on sale via their web site and box office. The festival will open with Oscar-nominated 'Doubt' as well as a variety of Irish features including 'Dorothy Mills', 'The Daisy Chain', and the recent winner at Sundance: 'Five Minutes of Heaven'.

Other big international films to screen include the Cannes-winning 'The Class' as part of the French Gala Event, the Swedish 'Everlasting Moments', 'Two Lovers' starring Gwyneth Palthrow and Joaquin Phoenix, and the film adaptation of the best selling book 'Marley and Me'.

Other Irish films will also feature including the IFTA-nominated psychological thriller 'Dorothy', the teenage drama 'Cherrybomb', Ivan Kavanagh's 'Our Wonderful Home', 'Eamon' by Margaret Corkery, and the Desperate Optimists-produced feature 'Helen'.

Director John Crowley will have two of his latest films screen - 'Is There Anybody There?' starring Michael Caine and the BAFTA-winning 'Boy A', There will also be a 50th Anniversary screening of documentary maker George Morrison's 'Mise Éire'.

Irish feature documentaries to screen include 'Stone Pastures', 'A Song for Dad' and 'Liam Clancy Live at the Bitter End'. There will be a range of Irish short films from the Short Cuts, Frameworks, Lasair, and Oscailt schemes on showcase also.

The premiere of Cartoon Saloon's animated feature 'The Secret of Kells' will close the festival on Sunday 22nd February.

Other events include the inaugural Jameson Film Experience, which is themed around graphic novels: British actor Clive Owen (Sin City) will be interviewed onstage by Mark Dinning, Editor of Empire magazine.

There will also be the Creative Cinema Panel Discussion, and a public discussion with screenwriter / journalist / novelist Frederic Raphael.

Storyland 10

RTÉ has announced the ten finalists of its Storyland project:

Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
By Thomas Martin & Steven Byrne

Morbid & Sons
By Patrick Kavanagh, idea Nicholas Kavanagh
Moocow productions

Hardy Bucks
By Martin Maloney & Chris Tordoff
Hardy Productions

Happy Slapper
By Gary Duggan

By Patrick O'Driscoll
Vico Pictures & Sound Ltd

Chez Spuds
By Pat McCabe & Johnny Ferguson
Igloo Films

Psych Ward
By Luke & Sam McManus
Blinder Films

What Does Joe Know?
By Eoin Rogers
FastNet Films

Rental Boys
By Gemma Creagh
Mixed Bag Media

Running Low
By Diarmuid O'Brien
Happy Endings Productions

The competition kicks off on Friday 13th March when all 10 episodes will be online, and up for a vote. Voting closes on Friday 27th March, and only nine projects will go forward to make the next episode.

Critics' Circle Awards: Theatre

The Stage announces the winners of this year’s Critics' Circle Awards:

  • Best New Play - August: Osage County by Tracy Letts (National Theatre presentation of the Steppenwolf Company).
  • The Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical - La Cage aux Folles (Menier Chocolate Factory and West End).
  • Best Actor - Kenneth Branagh in Ivanov (Donmar West End).
  • Best Actress - Margaret Tyzack in The Chalk Garden (Donmar).
  • The John and Wendy Trewin Award for Best Shakespearean Performance, awarded jointly to - Derek Jacobi in Twelfth Night (Donmar West End) and David Tennant in Hamlet (RSC).
  • Best Director - Michael Grandage for Ivanov and The Chalk Garden (Donmar West End and Donmar).
  • Best Designer - Neil Murray for Brief Encounter (West End).
  • Most Promising Playwright - Alexi Kaye Campbell for The Pride (Royal Court).
  • The Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer - Ella Smith in Fat Pig (Trafalgar Studios and West End).

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Low Budget Short-List

Last week Northern Ireland Screen announced the five projects picked for this year's Northern Ireland Screen Low Budget Fiction Fund:

  • Honeymoon Hangover – by Cecilia McAllister
  • The George Best Reunion Tour – by Tom Jonstone
  • Wee Buns – by Christine Murphy
  • Keeping Mum – by Deirdre Alexander
  • Outpost Alaska – by Scott Martin
By April one script will be selected to go into production, with a view to completing principal photography by the end of 2009.

This is the third year of Northern Ireland Screen's low-budget fiction scheme. The first recipient was Peacefire, which just won the Prix Special Du Jury award at the Angers European First Film Festival.

Peacefire Wins

Northern Ireland Screen reports that Peacefire, a new drama from first time feature writer-director Macdara Vallely, and starring John Travers (Song For a Raggy Boy, Closing the Ring), won the Prix Special Du Jury award at the Angers European First Film Festival.

Peacefire is an adaptation of Vallely's play, which won the Edinburgh Fringe First Award, and was also shortlisted for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.

The film was shot entirely in location in Craigavon, Co. Armagh, where Vallely grew up, and it was the first feature funded through Northern Ireland Screen's low-budget feature fund.

Screenwriting the Future

De Montfort University in Leicester is hosting a one-day seminar on TV screenwriting on Saturday 7th March 2009 at the Leicester City campus, and the focus will be on Fantastic Writing - science fiction, fantasy and magic: Writing the future, the past and other worlds.

Confirmed guests include James Moran (Doctor Who, Torchwood and Spooks), Phil Ford (Sarah Jane Adventures, Dr Who and Torchwood), Stephen Volk (Afterlife) and Graham Joyce - winner of the World Fantasy Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Angus Award and the O Henry short story prize. Graham has also written screenplays for Hollywood studios and is currently commissioned to work on the story line for the computer game DOOM 4.

Stephen Volk created and was lead writer of the award-winning ITV drama series Afterlife starring Lesley Sharp and Andrew Lincoln, called 'terrific television' (The Guardian) and 'Unmissable' (Mail on Sunday). A BAFTA-winning screenwriter, his TV and movie credits include Ken Russell's Gothic, Octane, Shockers and the notorious, almost legendary, BBC 'Halloween hoax' Ghostwatch.

Event organiser and course leader for the unique MA, Christopher Walker says "This is a rare opportunity for scriptwriters of all levels, from complete beginners through to those who have already had some success in the industry, to hear from industry professionals - there are two keynote speakers and two question and answer panels. Events like this are usually restricted to London so it's a way of giving opportunities to writers from the East Midlands to meet with industry professionals, network and get inspired to boost their writing careers."

A place on the course costs £65 per person including lunch, refreshments, and parking, and can be booked via the web site.

Monday 26 January 2009

Sundance 09

At the weekend the Sundance Film Festival announced its Award Winners:

Of particular interest are:

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award - Nicholas Jasenovec and Charlyne Yi, Paper Heart

World Cinema Screenwriting Award - Guy Hibbert, Five Minutes of Heaven

Five Minutes of Heaven is an Irish Feature Film, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, and Hibbert's previous credits include his BAFTA-winning television drama, Omagh. Shot in Northern Ireland during the summer of 2008, the film stars Liam Neeson (Taken, Michael Collins) and James Nesbitt (Murphy's Law, Jekyll) as two Ulstermen; one a murderer, the other the brother of the man he killed, who discover that the past is never dead.

London Theatre Up

Today The Stage reports that revenue from London's theatre box office was up last year, despite the global recession.

Box office revenue totalled £480.5 million, up 3% on 2007's already record figure, while attendances for the year totalled 13.8 million - up 1%.

Musicals ended 2008 1% up year-on-year, while plays suffered a slight loss, ending the year 1% down. This figure could have been worse, but for a very strong final quarter, which saw attendances across the board improve significantly.

In fact, had it not been for a Christmas period which was "significantly" stronger than last year, the end of year figures could have shown a slight – perhaps 1% - drop overall.

Nica Burns, chief executive of Nimax and the president of the Society of London Theatre, which compiles the results, said: "It was a quite remarkable year. Behind these figures are many very talented hard-working people putting on and selling world-class shows that people actually want to see. There's a lot of economic doom and gloom out there, but it would seem people still want to be entertained and stimulated in numbers."

Friday 23 January 2009

Kildare Film Bursary

The Kildare County Council has announced its Arts Service Awards and Opportunities 2009.

Of particular interest is the Film Bursary Award:

Kildare County Council Arts Service Film Bursary award is open to both established and emerging filmmakers in all genres
  • To support and encourage original film production
  • Enable formal or informal training : Participation in a professional or post-graduate course, mentoring, or other initiative, which will expand existing practice

The application form can be downloaded from the web site.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 5pm Wednesday 18th March 2009.

Thursday 22 January 2009

Oscar Nominees

The nominations for the 81st Annual Academy Awards have been announced.

Of particular interest to our members are the following categories:

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

  • Frozen River (2008): Courtney Hunt
  • Happy-Go-Lucky (2008): Mike Leigh
  • In Bruges (2008): Martin McDonagh (Irish writer)
  • Milk (2008): Dustin Lance Black
  • WALL·E (2008): Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Jim Reardon

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008): Eric Roth & Robin Swicord; based on the short story by F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Doubt (2008/I): John Patrick Shanley; based on the play by John Patrick Shanley
  • Frost/Nixon (2008): Peter Morgan; based on the play by Peter Morgan
  • The Reader (2008): David Hare; based on the novel by Bernhard Schlink
  • Slumdog Millionaire (2008): Simon Beaufoy; based on the novel by Vikas Swarup
Irish screenwriter/director Steph Green has also received an Oscar nomination in the category Best Short Film, Live Action, for her short film "New Boy", which is adapted from a short story by Roddy Doyle.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

360° Scriptwriting Festival

BBC Northern Ireland and Tinderbox Theatre Company present a four-day festival of script writing skills and talks in conjunction with the Tony Doyle Bursary 2009.

These are advanced workshops and talks for people interested in making a living from script writing in TV, radio, film, theatre or online, and take place from Wednesday 28th — Saturday 31st of January in Studio One, Broadcasting House, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast.


Wednesday 28th January

  • 5.30 - 7.15 pm – Talk by Tony Jordon on Writing for TV
  • 7.30 pm onwards – Story Brainstorm Extravaganza for all festival participants.
Thursday 29th January
  • 2pm - 4.30pm – Workshop with Nuno Bernardo on Online Drama
  • 5.30 - 7.00pm - BBC Writersroom Roadshow.
Friday 30th January
  • 2pm - 4.30pm – TV Drama talk.
  • 5.00pm - 7.30pm - Tony Doyle Bursary announcement.
Saturday 31st of January
  • 10.30am - 1pm – Workshop with Conor Mitchell on text and music
  • 2pm - 4.30pm - Workshop with Moira Buffini on stage writing

Places are free, but to book a place on any of the sessions send an email or letter stating which sessions you would like to attend, your contact details and a short paragraph about your writing experience.

Information on how to apply for the events is available on the web site.

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Rising Stars Nominees

Yesterday, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB) and the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) announced the Rising Star Award nominees for 2009. The winners of which will be announced at the Irish Film and Television Awards Ceremony on February 14th.

Selected by a special jury and sponsored by the IFB, the Rising Star Award aims to highlight exceptional new talent working in all areas of the Irish film industry. The 2009 nominees are; Sarah Bolger (Actress, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Tudors); Lance Daly (Writer/Director, Kisses); Michael Fassbender (Actor, Hunger) and Enda Walsh (Writer, Hunger).

Simon Perry, Chief Executive, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board said:

"Nurturing new talent is a key objective of the Irish Film Board and the Rising Star Award acts as an excellent showcase of talent both in front of and behind the camera. This year's nominees have all broken through in significant films and we are delighted to see their talent and recent achievements recognised in the award."

Aine Moriarty, Chief Executive of the Irish Film and Television Academy said,

"This important Award puts the spotlight on great Irish talent making a significant mark in the film industry at large. These four exciting Irish stars have shown themselves to be world class talents in their respective fields and I have no doubt that they will be counted among the wealth of leading Irish talents over the coming years. IFTA is proud to put the international spotlight on Ireland's Rising Stars and acknowledges the Irish Film Board's ongoing support of new Irish industry talent."

Digitisation Grants

Bord Scannán na hÉireann / the Irish Film Board and the Arts Council have announced the organisations that will receive grants under the Cinema Digitisation Scheme:

  • Light House Cinema: €200,000
  • Irish Film Institute: €150,000
  • Screen Cinema: €110,000
  • Cinema North West: €75,000
  • Cinemobile: €75,000
  • Mermaid, Wicklow Arts Centre: €70,000
  • Town Hall Theatre, Galway: €70,000
The Cinema Digitisation Scheme is an initiative of the Cultural Cinema Consortium, a strategic partnership between the Arts Council and the Irish Film Board. The purpose of the scheme is to provide capital grants for the purchase and installation of digital projection equipment to cinemas that offer a cultural cinema programme on a year-round basis.

Films are increasingly being made available in digital formats and these grants will ensure that audiences in Dublin, Wicklow, Galway, the west and north west will have access to the best and most current releases in cultural and Irish cinema programming.

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Children's Playwriting Competition

Imaginosity Children's Museum, in conjunction with the The Natural Confectionery Company (TNCC), has issued a call for entries to an inaugural playwriting competition for Children's theatre. Imaginosity will have first option on producing the winning play for the "TNCC Kids Stage" at Imaginosity, which attracts almost 130,000 visitors each year.

The panel that will adjudicate the entries include: Victoria Smurfit (Actress and Writer), Peter Sheridan (Writer and Director), Marie Louise Fitzpatrick (Children's writer), Jim Culleton (Artistic Director, Fishamble) and Orla Kennedy (CEO, Imaginosity).

The competition is open to writers 18 years and over. The first prize winner will take home a cheque for €1,000, with €300 for second place, and €200 for the third placed play.

The panel is looking for plays with originality and flair that will appeal to children up to 10 years of age.

Outlining what he is looking for in entries, Peter Sheridan explained, "I am looking for imagination, humour, emotional engagement, good characterisation and writing that deals with contemporary concerns of children."

Submissions will be accepted between January 19thMarch 13th 2009, and the winner will be announced on Monday March 30th 2009.

The details on how to enter and the application form are available from the web site.

Theatre in Cinemas in UK

The Guardian reports that the National Theatre in London will begin broadcasting its plays to approximately 50 cinemas across the UK, beginning with Helen Mirren in the French classical tragedy Phèdre, written by Racine.

"It is something of an experiment," said the National director, Nicholas Hytner. "But we felt that somebody has got to try it and if somebody has got to try it then it has got to be us."

The season will be called NT Live. Initially there will be four plays beamed live by satellite for one night only to independent and arthouse cinemas across the UK to audiences that will have paid £10 a ticket. To try to regain some of the estimated £50,000 that it will cost to broadcast each play, the National also proposes to sell them for broadcast abroad.

Monday 19 January 2009

IFB Berlin Events

Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board will be attending the 59th Berlin Film Festival (February 5th - 15th) and are organising a number of activities to promote Irish films at the festival.

If industry professionals are attending the festival they should download and return the registration form that is available on the IFB web site.

We will have a stand in the European Film Market again and are organising a number of promotional activities which include:
  • Distribution of a list of the Irish delegates attending the festival. Irish industry professionals attending the festival should complete the registration form, including the dates that they will be attending the festival before close of business on Wednesday 21st January if they wish to be included.
  • Distribution of promotional flyers detailing Irish films screening in the festival and market. If your film is screening and you would like it included on the flyers you need to get in touch with the details.
  • Hosting a networking reception at the Movenpick Hotel on Sunday 8th February.

Writers For Peace

On Tuesday the 20th of January, in St Anne's Church, Dawson St., Dublin 2, from 6.30pm - 8.30pm Poetry Ireland in association with Trócaire and Amnesty International have organised a public reading by some of Ireland's best writers in response to the situation in Gaza.

Each writer will read for 5 minutes at this non-partisan event, and confirmed readers include:

Anne Enright, Colm Toibin, Susan McKay, Hugo Hamilton, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Evelyn Conlon, Lia Mills, Ronit Lentin, John F. Deane, Macdara Woods, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Peter Sirr, and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

Dublin Critics Awards

The Sunday Tribune reports that the Dublin Film Critics Circle has announced its Best Films of 2008:

  • Best Film: There Will Be Blood; written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.
  • Best Irish Film: Hunger; written by Steve McQueen and Enda Walsh, and directed by Steve McQueen.
  • Best Actress: Kristin Scott Thomas in I've Loved You So Long
  • Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood
  • Best Breakthrough: Steve McQueen

Friday 16 January 2009

Drip Action Plays

The Drip Action Theatre Trail Writers Competition in West Sussex is looking for plays between 30 - 40 minutes long, with simple casting and prop demands, which are suitable for daytime performances.

The seven best plays will be selected by the reading committee to be performed alongside a newly commissioned play by Simon Brett in the 2009 Arundel Town Festival at the end of August. The seven finalists will be announced in May 2009.

The deadline is the 31st of January, 2009, and information on how to apply is on the web site.

Thursday 15 January 2009

The Gate Expands

The Stage reports that Dublin's Gate Theatre has opened its €6 million wing, which took three years to fund and build.

The expansion provides not just a rehearsal room and a workshop area for set assembly, but also storage space for the Gate’s important theatre archive and accommodation for production and office staff. In addition, the new wing includes a theatre laboratory to be used by playwrights for work in progress and to encourage creative talent.

A high-profile committee had been established to raise funds for the project from private sources. The Department of Arts contributed €2.2 million to the cost and the Ireland Fund, an international support group of people of Irish ancestry, donated €300,000. The opening of the new wing marked a triple success at the Gate. The theatre has just celebrated its 80th anniversary, while director Michael Colgan also had cause for celebration, having chalked up 25 years in charge.

First to benefit from the new facilities are director Alan Stanford and his cast for Tom Stoppard's award-winning play, The Real Thing. It is currently in rehearsal at the Gate and is due to open there early next month.

Meanwhile, another award-winning playwright, Dublin's Conor McPherson, has booked a place in the new theatre lab to work on his latest project, an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's The Birds. The world premiere of the play will be staged at the Gate later this year.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Belfast Roadshow

The BBC Writersroom Roadshow is coming to Belfast on Thursday the 29th of January, from 5:30pm - 7:00pm, in Studio One, Broadcasting House, Ormeau Avenue.

Here's your chance to put your questions to the people who assess up to 10,000 scripts a year for the BBC. You can also bring your script to hand in to us in person - but please make sure it meets our guidelines.

For a place on the guest list email your full name in the body of the email, with the subject heading Belfast Roadshow, to:

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Red Ladder Bursary

The Red Ladder Theatre Company in Leeds is searching for new writing talent from writers over 18 who are no longer in full time education.

Three writers will gain the opportunity to develop their work, with the support of a seeding bursary. One of these will lead to a full commission.

What's the Scheme?
  • A £500 seeding bursary awarded to three chosen writers to develop their initial idea into a treatment with support from Red Ladder Theatre Company
  • One of these treatments will lead to a £1,500 commission, the support of a Dramaturg along with workshops and readings of your script as it develops
The deadline for entries is January 31st 2009. Information on how to apply for the bursary is available on the web site.

Broadway Up in 2008

The Stage reports that despite a global recession last year's takings on Broadway were up in 2008, compared to 2007.

Commenting on the totals, Charlotte St Martin, executive director of the Broadway League, noted: "Even though the last few months of the year were challenging, these last two weeks encompassing the Christmas and new year's holidays grossed nearly two million dollars more than the same two-week period last year. This reflects that even in tough economic times, theatregoers go to the theatre."

While more shows than usual are closing on Broadway as 2009 dawns, there is a lot of product coming up in the next few months and St Martin is optimistic about 2009. Among the shows set to open on Broadway in 2009 will be Impressions with Jeremy Irons, Blithe Spirit with Angela Lansbury, Waiting for Godot with Nathan Lane, and Mary Stuart with Janet McTeer - the latter a London transfer.

Monday 12 January 2009

Awards '09

The international awards season for film and television has kicked off. Last week the National Society of Film Critics Awards were announced.

The critics picked Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky for Best Screenplay, as well as Best Director, with the surprise pick of Best Film going to the animated feature, Waltz with Bashir, which was written and directed by Ari Folman.

Last night the Golden Globes were awarded.

Slumdog Millionaire, written by Simon Beaufoy, won Best Screenplay, garnered Best Director for Danny Boyle, and also picked up Best Motion Picture - Drama.

Irishman Colin Farrell won Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy for his performance in In Bruges.

Best Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy was won by Vicky Cristina Barcelona, written and directed by Woody Allen, and Best Animated Feature Film went to WALL-E, which was written by Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, and directed by Andrew Stanton

Waltz with Bashir won Best Foreign Language Film.

Best Television Series - Drama was scooped by Mad Men.

Irishman Gabriel Byrne won the Best Actor In A Television Series - Drama for his performance in In Treatment.

Best Television Series - Musical Or Comedy was won by 30 Rock, and HBO's John Adams won Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television.

Steven Spielberg was presented with the Cecil B DeMille Award for his "outstanding contribution to the entertainment field".

Friday 9 January 2009

IFTA '09 Shortlist

The Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) announced the shortlist of nominees for the 6th Annual Irish Film and Television Awards, which will take place on Saturday 14th February at the Burlington Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin.

There are 37 award categories that range across film and television. A full list of all the nominees is available from the web site, but here are the two categories that should interest our members most:

Best Script Film

  • Lance Daly, Kisses - (Element Pictures Distribution)
  • Mark Doherty, A Film With Me In It - (Parallel Film Productions)
  • Martin McDonagh, In Bruges - (Universal Pictures International)
  • Enda Walsh, Hunger - (Blast! Films)

Best Script Television
  • Stuart Carolan & Barry Murphy, Little White Lie - Element Pictures (RTÉ)
  • Rob Heyland, Whistleblower - Saffron Pictures (RTÉ)
  • Graham Linehan, The I.T. Crowd - (Talkback Thames)
  • Peter McKenna, The Clinic - Parallel Film Productions (RTÉ)

Thursday 8 January 2009

Volunteer for DIFF

The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (12th - 22nd of February 2009) is looking for volunteers to fill various roles:

  • Venues
  • Administration & Production
  • Event Hospitality
The festival is a charitable, not-for-profit event, and depends upon the support and dedication of its volunteers.

Information on how to apply as a volunteer is available on the web site.

Tuesday 6 January 2009

TV's Future in NI

On Monday the 19th of January, 2009, from 6-8pm at the BBC's Blackstaff House in Belfast, Equity is offering a free seminar on the future of television, called "Television Is Changing - Are You Ready?"

It's open to Equity members, producers, agents, casting directors and other industry professionals.

Join Equity at this interactive seminar designed to give you the opportunity to find out about the work that Equity has been doing in response to the expansion and development of new technology in the world of television production, broadcasting and throughout the entertainment industry.

The key themes covered include:
  • TV Is Changing: The way actors work and are paid will change as a result of the revolution that is taking place in broadcasting. This campaign is part of Equity’s effort to provide you with the information you need to help you make informed choices about the implications of the coming changes.
  • Pan-Industry Negotiations: Equity has been meeting with representatives of all the major broadcasters and independent producers in the British television industry with the goal of negotiating a pan-industry agreement that will bring together the best of the many individual deals that currently exist.
  • New Media Deals: Find out about the work the union has already done in areas such as mobisodes, podcasts, internet-only productions and games.
Places are limited, so if you wish to attend you must book a place in advance: details are listed on Northern Ireland Screen's web site.

Barry Wins Costa Prize

According to The Irish Times Irish playwright, poet, and author Sebastian Barry has won the Costa Prize for fiction for his novel The Secret Scripture.

AFI's 8 2008 Moments

At the end of last year the American Film Institute (AFI) announced its 2008 Moments Of Significance: eight noteworthy events "determined to have had an impact on the world of the moving image during the calendar year 2008."

This is a decidedly American perspective, but contains some perceptive insights into how the industry has shifted in the past year:

Slumdog Millionaire – A celebration of the global film

The AFI called the film "a monument to the possibilities of cross-cultural storytelling", and "a signpost in America's search for greater authenticity in its stories." Other films deemed to reflect this cultural shift included Gran Torino, The Visitor, Australia and television's Heroes.

Television and new technologies provide a global oracle for America's Presidential race.

The race to the White House saw "television and web coverage played to each other's strengths, as every nuance of the long, arduous campaigns was accessible for public celebration and scrutiny."

NBC coverage of summer Olympics brings the world together

The AFI praised Zhang Yimou's direction and choreography for the opening and closing ceremonies in Beijing, as well as the news coverage provided by American TV channel NBC during the Olympics.

"Age Of Anxiety" as business models for the arts evolve.

The writers' strike and ongoing threat of an actors' strike underscored tensions between artists and executives. "The one certainty in these uncertain times is that the film and television communities continue to redefine their business models for the digital age."

Tina Fey – America's First lady of laughs

Tina Fey, former Saturday Night Live head writer, and writer, producer and star of 30 Rock, returned to the SNL with her acclaimed impersonation of Vice Presidential candidate hopeful Sarah Palin.

Independent film artists face distribution crisis

Several specialty and smaller labels like Warner Independent Pictures, Picturehouse, THINKFilm, New Line and Paramount Vantage folded in 2008. "Despite the unprecedented availability of filmmaking tools and the explosion of opportunity in on-line exhibition, the challenge for independent voices in American film is perhaps greater than ever. Now, an artist outside the studio system must also master finance and distribution to have their stories told."

Film critics lose voice

"In 2008, many of the ardent voices of film criticism were silenced. Full-time posts at Time, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice and Newsday, among others, were eliminated as the circulation of newspapers and magazines declined. As a result, writing about film has moved to the Web-a world where authority can be lost among the voice of the masses."

Dr Horrible operates in explosion of short form

Writer-director Joss Whedon's comedy musical, Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, became an international hit after it was released online for free as three 13-minute webisodes. " This movement was catalyzed in part by the Writers Guild strike of 2007, when artists from film and television came together in greater numbers to express themselves in the short form, an integral part of the moving-image experience since the dawn of cinema."

3e Replaces Channel 6

The Irish Times reports that Channel 6, one of the Irish television channels, has rebranded itself 3e and it claims to be focusing on offering "pure entertainment" to its viewers.

Last July TV3 bought Channel 6 in an attempt to consolidate its position as the biggest commercial broadcaster in Ireland. TV3 is also revamping its brand, and plans to offer more news coverage.

David McRedmond, chief executive of the TV3 Group, said: "Our strategy is to develop a multi-channel Irish broadcaster and that's why we acquired Channel 6. We have put the two channels under a single programming team, which means that over the coming months, the schedules will become entirely complementary."

Mr Redmond said programming on TV3 such as Champions League football would be offset by shows such as Sex and the City on 3e. "We will also try to air more Irish programmes and we'll take some risks with 3e," he added. "It's a channel we hope will be talked about."

Monday 5 January 2009

First Award of '09

A reminder that applications for the first Filmbase/RTÉ Short Film Award of 2009 opens on the 16th of January and closes on 5pm, Friday 30th January 2009.

All information about the application process is available on the web site.