Wednesday 30 September 2009

Douglas Hyde Conference 2009

The Douglas Hyde Conference 2009, called "Culture and the Economy, Creativity and Innovation in Post Boom Ireland", is taking place 16 - 18 October, in the Abbeyfield Hotel Conference & Leisure Centre in Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon.

While creativity is most evident or pronounced within the arts sector, in any sphere it is the characteristic essential to the development of new solutions. The lateral thinking, multiple intelligences and problem solving skills central to the arts and all the creative industries represent the same creative thinking employed in technology, the environment, education or industry - creativity is the quality that allows the next new step to be conceived.

Not only is it important that we continue to value the creative sector, but perhaps now, in the current climate, it is vital that we look to the creative sector and better examine the benefits culture, creativity and innovation can bring to our society, and to our economy.

The Douglas Hyde Conference brings together thinkers, academics, artists and political leaders to investigate the potential of the Creative Economy.

Some of the speakers include Martin Cullen, Minister for Arts, Sport & Tourism; Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Chairperson, Culture Ireland and Director of Irish World Academy of Music & Dance; Una McCarthy, Head of Festivals, Street Arts & Spectacle, The Arts Council; Sarah Glennie, Director, Irish Film Institute; Garry Hynes, Director, Druid Theatre Company; and Alice Lyons, Poet and Visual Artist

Details on fees and the application process are available on the web site.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Interviews about the National Campaign for the Arts

Here is a video of interviews conducted by Darragh Doyle last week, upon the launch for the National Campaign for the Arts. It includes discussions with Tania Banotti, Irish Theatre Forum; Bill Whelan, Composer; Colm Toibín, Author; Anne Enright, Author; Donal Gleeson, Actor; Fiach Mac Conghail, Director of the Abbey Theatre; Lenny Abrahamson, Filmmaker; Loughlin Deegan, the Dublin Theatre Festival; Don Wycherly, Actor; Sarah Bolger, Actress.

Art Can Make us Proud

The National Campaign for the Arts website has published the speech made by Roddy Doyle at the Theatre Forum / Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival event for Dublin TDs and Dublin City Councillors, which took place on September 24 2009.

It's called Art can make us feel proud of who we are, and in it Roddy lays out the case for how arts funding helped his career, and the career of those he worked with, to bring stories to Irish people about their lives.

Well-aimed support from the Arts Council, Culture Ireland, the Irish Film Board and from Dublin City Council can have, and does have, an enormous impact – sometimes years later. This week, one reason we feel proud of our city is because we come from the same place as Brendan Gleeson. I’m delighted – and very lucky. Because I saw – I experienced – Brendan acting in a play I wrote called BROWNBREAD. The play was produced by The Passion Machine, with support from the Arts Council, 22 years ago. I wrote it, Brendan acted in it, Paul Mercier directed it. At the risk of sounding arrogant, it was money well spent.

Winter Gay Festival

The Dublin Gay Theatre Festival is running a special winter programme for the first time.

From October 23rd to November 1st 2009 there will be productions from the UK, Ireland, the USA and Africa held in the city centre.

The ever popular Theatre shorts programme will run for a week in the Cobalt Cafe. Highlights include the play we had hoped to stage in May, Loupe, a production from Zimbabwe, that explores sexuality, HIV and brotherly love and Joe Steiff's storytelling Golden Corral from the USA, a play about growing up gay in deepest redneck territory. Nuala Kelly's And Then There Was Me - a lesbian coming out play, and many more. More details coming soon!

Monday 28 September 2009

Cullen Wants Irish Film Board

The Irish Times reported on Friday that Minister for the Arts, Martin Cullen, has come out in support of retaining the Irish Film Board as an independent body.

Mr Cullen agreed with Labour arts spokeswoman Mary Upton that a merger would mean the film board "will be gobbled up and become a non-entity. It will have no defined or separate role, which is very important for the film industry". She added that it earned net profit of €303 million last year, even allowing for tax breaks.

The Minister said there was a "strong rationale for the retention of the Irish Film Board because it is delivering jobs and is a positive international marketing message for this country".

Some 6,000 people are employed in the industry and "this success guides me in stating that the board should be retained as it is and with current functions. It is achieving the goals we set out for it."

Fine Gael arts spokeswoman Olivia Mitchell agreed that a merger with the Enterprise Board would be "inappropriate" but made noises about the need for the board's office in both Galway and Dublin, and a need for it to become more competitive.
"Is there a way to ensure that the board will become super-efficient in order that the entire industry might be more competitive when the good times return?"

She warned that the board should not be supporting "uncompetitive practices". Ireland appeared to be "extremely uncompetitive" in trade pay rates and "it costs more to make films here than it does in any other country".

Ah yes, those mythical good times that everyone foresees ahead of us. How about dealing with the difficult present time, which is going to be made more difficult with the slew of budget cuts facing us? Plus, apparently, those of us working in film have uncompetitive pay rates - compared to whom? Perhaps those residing in countries with lower wages and cost of living?

So, I guess they'll be asking for wage cuts next. A concept that will be met with grim amusement from Irish screenwriters, who are woefully underpaid already. Perhaps we should compare our pay rates with those in the UK or the USA? I think we'll discover then what market runs the cheapest bargain when it comes to screenwriting.

Friday 25 September 2009

MEDIA New Talent Info

Filmbase, in association with MEDIA Desk Ireland and FÁS Screen Training Ireland, is hosting an information session for audiovisual professionals. The session is aimed at emerging talent within the film and digital media sectors (particularly emerging producers, directors, writers and writer/directors).

The session intends to give those unfamiliar with the full range of supports for Irish audiovisual professionals available under the EU MEDIA Funding Programme a better understanding of relevant opportunities. This will be a strong focus on the variety of Training opportunities provided under the MEDIA Programme as these have been particularly successful for Irish talent in the past.

The session will take place at Filmbase, Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin on Wednesday 14th October from 1.30 - 3.00 pm.

Places are free but must be reserved in advance. To register your interest in attending please RSVP to

StoryLand II

RTÉ is seeking submissions for 6 new pilot drama series to go online via its StoryLand site from January to June 2010.

We don't mind if you've made dozens of TV series or have never made anything before, as long as you have a good idea that will engage our over 18 audience for 6 episodes and can convince us that you have a team behind you to pull it off, then we want to hear from you.

RTÉ is hosting an information session at 7pm, Wednesday 30th September 2009 about the competition, in RTÉ, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

Places are limited, so please RSVP to to guarantee your place.

The application form, and details on how to apply, are available online.

The closing date for submissions is 1 November 2009.

ZeBBie Nominations Open

ZeBBie AwardsMembers of the Guild are asked to nominate Irish writers for the third ZeBBie Awards in the following four categories:

  • Best Radio script
  • Best Film script
  • Best Television script
  • Best Theatre script
Please take the time to nominate, and acknowledge, the hard work of Irish playwrights and screenwriters over the past year.

A master list of qualifying work is available on the Guild website. Members of the Guild are invited to nominate a maximum of three nominations in each of the four categories, however members can offer fewer, or no nominations in any of the categories.

The closing date for receipt of nominations is Monday 5th October at 17.30.

Nominations can be made by post, by hand, or by email. All members - full or associate - of the Guild are entitled to nominate.

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

The Awards Ceremony will take place on Thursday 26th November at the Sugar Club on Leeson Street, Dublin 2.

Thursday 24 September 2009

BBC Increases Drama Budget

The Stage reports that BBC2 is raising its drama budget by 50% over the next three years. At the BBC Vision Forum, director Jana Bennett announced the changes.

She added: "I believe the genre needs support. It will be targeted at distinctive, authored series that continue the great tradition of BBC2, with the aim of providing the next generation of television classics."

In addition, Bennett said investment in BBC children's programmes would be increased by at least £25 million over three years. ...

"It's our duty to take more risks with new forms and ideas. To commission home-grown content for British audiences. To offer different windows on the world. To be committed to a wide range of genres and subjects – and not just those with guaranteed mass appeal," Bennett said.

Ireland could do with some of this focus on the importance of home-grown drama.

Arts Campaign Launched

The National Campaign for the Arts was officially launched yesterday, and was supported by many famous artists, such as singer Mary Black, actress Sara Bolger, comedian Risteard Cooper, singer/songwriter Damian Dempsey, singer Lisa Hannigan, actress and novelist Amy Huberman, writer and director Neil Jordan, and composer Bill Whelan.

During a week in which the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival is kicking off its fifty-first year and an expected half million people around the country will enjoy Culture Night, the Campaign aims to put the importance of the arts centre stage. It calls for the retention of Culture Ireland, the agency for the promotion of Irish arts worldwide and the Irish Film Board, both of which face closure following the recent recommendations of the McCarthy Report. It also calls for the maintenance of existing levels of arts funding for the Arts Council as well as full representation at senior cabinet level.

The National Campaign for the Arts was established as the first ever umbrella organisation for the diverse arts' sectors in Ireland and provides a voice for the country’s artists and arts organisations. It petitions to ensure that the arts are on local and national government agendas and welcomes an open debate on the arts as a vital part of contemporary Irish life. Its membership has a national reach that includes major festivals, venues, producers and representative organisations in visual arts, theatre, film, dance, music, literature, architecture and collaborative arts.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

From Idea to Script

The Galway Film Centre is offering a new course over six Tuesday evenings - 6.30pm to 9pm - starting the 6th October and ending the 3rd November, for writers who have an idea for a short film and want to get it on paper.

Working closely with an experienced tutor, you will be guided through traditional screenplay structure, writing exercises,pitching your idea and group readings of your work. There will also be a talk on what is the next step to take, once you have written your script.

The tutor is available by email every week to look at participants' rewrites. To get the most out of this course, you should have time between each class to write. Any good screenplay requires work and effort and this course can help you to establish a weekly writing routine. The results can be very rewarding.

We encourage participants to email eachother with their work during the week. A lot can be learned from looking at how someone else writes and also, writing is often a very solo profession where writers sometimes miss the perspective of another's opinion.

Class sizes are kept small so that everyone's work gets plenty of attention and tea/coffee and biscuits during the break.

The course fee is €225 unwaged/ €255 waged (which includes membership to the Centre for the year).

The course tutor is Ivan McMahon who has a Masters in Screenwriting from the Huston School of Film, and is a working writer and filmmaker based in Galway. Ivan will shortly be directing an Irish Film Board-funded short film, "The Parting", which he co-wrote with Molly O'Driscoll.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Frank Deasy

There have been many tributes to Frank Deasy, the Irish Emmy award-winning screenwriter, who died last week after waiting for a liver transplant for seven months.

Among his credits were The Grass Arena (1999), which starred Pete Postlethwaite, Captives (1994), and Looking After Jo Jo (1998).

His biggest success came in 2006, when he wrote the miniseries Prime Suspect: The Final Act, in which Helen Mirren resumed her role as Det. Supt. Jane Tennison. Deasy was nominated for the best writer Bafta award in 2007, and later won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Mini-series.

Most recently he wrote the BBC mini-series The Passion, and his Dublin-based crime thriller Father & Son, which aired on RTÉ during the summer.

Frank wrote about his experiences on the donor list for the Observer just a few days before he died. It would be a fitting tribute to Frank if people filled out a donor card today.

Monday 21 September 2009

Writing Emmys 2009

The 2009 Primetime Emmys were awarded last night in Los Angeles.

Here are the nominees and winners for the writing categories:

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
* Ron Weiner for 30 Rock (episode "Mamma Mia") (NBC)
* James Bobin, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie for Flight of the Conchords (episode: "Prime Minister") (HBO)
* Jack Burditt and Robert Carlock for 30 Rock (episode: "Kidney Now!") (NBC)
* Robert Carlock for 30 Rock (episode: "Apollo, Apollo") (NBC)
* Matt Hubbard for 30 Rock (episode: "Reunion") (NBC)

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
* Kater Gordon and Matthew Weiner for Mad Men (episode: "Meditations in an Emergency") (AMC)
* Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof for Lost (episode: "The Incident") (ABC)
* Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton and Matthew Weiner for Mad Men (episode: "Six Month Leave") (AMC)
* Robin Veith and Matthew Weiner for Mad Men (episode: "A Night to Remember") (AMC)
* Matthew Weiner for Mad Men (episode: "The Jet Set") (AMC)

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special
* Andrew Davies for Little Dorrit (PBS)
* David Simon for Generation Kill (episode: "Bomb in the Garden") (HBO)
* Michael Sucsy and Patricia Rozema for Grey Gardens (HBO)
* Michael Strobl and Ross Katz for Taking Chance (HBO)
* Hugh Whitemore for Into the Storm (HBO)

Outstanding Writing For a Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
* The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central) Steve Bodow, Head Writer; Jon Stewart, David Javerbaum, Josh Lieb, Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Jason Ross, Tim Carvell, John Oliver, Sam Means, Rob Kutner, J.R. Havlan, Rich Blomquist, Wyatt Cenac, Elliott Kalan, Rachel Axler.
* Late Night with Conan O'Brien (NBC)
* Late Show with David Letterman (CBS)
* Saturday Night Live (NBC)
* The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)

Plus Irish actor Brendan Gleeson won his first Emmy award in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie category for his performance as Winston Churchill in the UK drama Into the Storm.

Irish director Dearbhla Walsh was awarded the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special category for her work on the BBC drama Little Dorrit.

10 Arguments for the Arts

Those of us looking to construct an argument about the relevancy of the Arts to society would be well advised to notice that the Council of Europe recognises this vital connection, and funds an organisation, Culture Watch Europe (CWE), whose remit is "the presentation and exchange of information and good practice in the broad sectors of culture and cultural and natural heritage. Based on the Organisation's fundamental principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, CWE offers an innovative and evidence-based understanding of cultural and heritage developments in Europe."

It offers a document called "Culture: A Tool For Reversing Recession: Ten Arguments For Use By Ministers".

This paper sets out ten arguments that Ministers of Culture can use in discussions with their colleagues – especially Finance and Prime ministers – when annual budgets come under scrutiny. It suggests reasons why cultural investment can be an important tool in combating the effects of recession and – perhaps more importantly – leading the way back to prosperity. The arguments also help Ministers of Culture make common cause with those responsible for employment generation, social cohesion, security and education. Every country will have its own examples and statistics to back up the arguments. Similarly each can develop new proposals based on them for restructuring and regeneration. The arguments are as useful at the intergovernmental, regional and local levels as they are at the national. Indeed they can be part of any municipality’saction plan.

I think it's wonderful for the EU to offer us this coherent strategy for combating budget cuts in relation to culture. If European ministers can use these arguments, so can you!

Thursday 17 September 2009

Meet Channel 4

Channel 4 is organising a series of regional briefings, one of which will be held in Belfast on 30th September.

These briefings will give you the opportunity to learn about Channel 4's respective plans for 2010, meet the commissioners, hear what they’ve learnt from 2009 and share some background on the projects commissioned so far as well as answer your questions on any of the above.

The sessions should be really useful for start-ups, agencies, production companies or freelancers in the digital media sector thinking about pitching an idea to Channel 4.

Belfast briefing date: 30th September, 2:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Request an invitation
There’s limited room but if you want to come along send an email to

Channel 4 will confirm whether you've got a place and other details via an email reply. You must include your name, role, company name, and a contact number in the email.

Script Editors Needed

FÁS Screen Training Ireland is seeking two script editing participants for its Story Development for Film & Television course. These two participants will work with the writers on the course, under the tutelage of Valery Ryan, who has worked as a script editor on such shows as Cracker and Prime Suspect, and leads the two courses for script editors run by BBC Training.

The aim of this course is to enhance participants' understanding of the story development process for both for serialised content and feature films. The course will mentor eight projects through 3-4 months of development from idea to first draft stage – four television projects, and four feature projects. Through project development, participants will gain an understanding of the TV drama and feature film development process, the different drama formats, how cinematic and televisual storytelling differ, and the roles and responsibilities of writers, script editors, directors and producers in the development process.

The script editing strand of the programme seeks two participants to apply without a project, and collaborate on writer-only participating projects. These script editor participants will attend all project sessions and also partake in additional sessions in order to enhance their story development, communication, and production skills. These two participants can be freelance script editors seeking to enhance their skills, development assistants in production companies, assistant script editors on television, or development personnel seeking to enhance their understanding and engagement in the script development process.

At the end of the programme, these script editors will have the option to partake in a work placement scheme, during which they will receive an allowance while working on a television drama, shadowing an experienced script editor and being trained in the production skills pertinent to the role of script editor. This work placement will take place between October and December 2009.

For further details, please contact Sorcha Loughnane at 6077468, or email

Preservation Assistant Needed

The Radharc Trust - an independent charitable organisation working to promote Christian and positive human values in the media - manages the Radharc Archive of 400 documentaries produced by the Radharc production team between 1961 to 1997.

The Radharc Trust needs a preservation assistant to undertake a preservation assessment and documentation project for the Radharc Collection at the Irish Film Archive resulting in a detailed collections management report.

The Preservation Assistant will be employed on a 12-month contract by the Radharc Trust and will work under the day-to-day direction of the Head of the Irish Film Archive at the Irish Film Institute.

A full job description can be found at the IFI web site.

Applications (C.V. and cover letter) must be received by Friday the 25th of September.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

First World Conference of Screenwriters

The first World Conference of Screenwriters will take place in Athens, Greece during the 6 & 7 of November 2009.

The Conference will bring together all of the member Guilds and Unions of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe – who initiated the project – and the members of the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds.

Two hundred representatives from 30 guilds around the globe are expected to attend the meeting: they will be representing over twenty thousand writers worldwide.

During the two days of the conference the delegates will focus on the following topics:

  • The environment for production
  • Distribution of creative content
  • The role of multinational conglomerates
  • The writers' response.
Additionally a number of debates on related topics will take place over the course of the conference.
Among those already committed to be present will be Guillermo Arriaga (Golden Lion for the Burning Plain, Golden Palm for Best Screenplay for Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for Babel, as well as several awards for 21 Grams, Amores Perros), Mateo Gil (Oscar for Mar Adentro and several awards for Abro los ojos, Vanilla Sky, Agora), Vincenzo Cerami (Oscar for La Vita e Bella and several awards for Porte Aperte a.o.), Marcos Bernstein (Golden Bear and Golden Globe for Central do Brasil), Milcho Manchevski (Golden Lion for Before the Rain and several awards for Dust and Shadows), Paolo Sorrentino (Jury Prize in Cannes for Il Divo), Sergio Sanchez (Goya for Best Original Screenplay for The Orphanage), Stefano Rulli (several awards for La Meglio Gioventu, Mio fratello e figlio unico a.o.), Guy Hibbert (Sundance Screenwriting Award 2009 for Five Minutes of Heaven), Razvan Radulescu (several awards for The Paper Will Be Blue and The Death of Mr. Lazarescu), Mark O'Halloran (several awards for Adam and Paul and Garage), Srdjan Koljevic (several awards for The Trap and Red Colored Grey Truck).

Countries represented include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United States of America.

The Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild will be sending delegates to this historic conference, to participate and discuss the important issues that face screenwriters around the world.

FSTI Bursaries

FÁS Screen Training Ireland is looking for applications for the Screen Training Ireland Bursary Award and Work Placement Scheme.

The purpose of the scheme is to expose industry practitioners to the best training expertise, work situations and mentoring internationally. The scheme is open to experienced industry professionals and enables successful bursary recipients to participate in international training programmes, work placements and mentoring to assist their professional development.

Bursaries are awarded to ensure professional development and skill enhancement in line with international work standards.

FÁS Screen Training Ireland offers two types of bursaries to applicants:
  • Funding to attend training courses and workshops abroad
  • Support funding to participate in a structured work programme within international companies and organisations
For further information please contact Emer MacAvin on 01-6077423 or email

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Europeans Still Like Cinema

Last week the European Audiovisual Observatory released a report that summarises cinema attendance across Europe for the first half of 2009.

With an estimated 348 million tickets sold between January and June 2009, cinema admissions in the big 5 European Union markets increased by 3.8% year-on-year. Cumulative growth was primarily driven by an impressive 14.5% rise in the UK, representing the strongest result in seven years, as well as increasing cinema attendance in Germany (+6.5%) and in Spain (+7.9%). Among the most successful films during the first six months of 2009 was Angels and Demons making it into the top 10 in all five major markets and topping the charts in Germany, Italy and Spain. Other films appearing in multiple top 10s included Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as well as Gran Torino and Fast & Furious. The 4.4% year-on-year decline France is due to the exceptional success of Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis in the first half of 2008, though strong results in July and August may reverse the full year trend.

The European Audiovisual Observatory estimates that the cumulative results for France, the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain account for about 76% of total admissions in the European Union. The development of these five markets generally serves as good indicator for the overall European trend. The growth in the big 5 markets as well as strong half-year results in many other European countries such as Sweden (+27%), Poland (+16%), the Netherlands (+12.3%), Norway (+8.1%), Denmark (+7%), the Czech Republic (+6.8%), Hungary (+6.2%), Ireland (+1.8%) or Portugal (+1.3%), suggest that despite the difficult economic environment cinema admissions across Europe increased in the first six months of 2009.

BAFTA New Writing Forum

The BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum is accepting scripts submissions for the next two forums taking place at the 2009 International Screenwriters Festival in Cheltenham on 28 October, and at BAFTA headquarters in London on 30 November 2009.

An application form with full details on how to apply can be downloaded from the web site.

There is a a fee of £5.00 per script submission.

The closing date for submissions is 17.00 on 25 September 2009.

Monday 14 September 2009

Creative Arts Emmy Winners

The 2009 Creative Arts Emmys were awarded last night in Los Angeles.

There were many awards given out, but here are the nominees and winners for the writing categories:

Outstanding Writing for Nonfictional Programming
* Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (HBO) - written by Joe Bini, P.G. Morgan and Marina Zenovich
* American Experience (episode: "The Trials Of J. Robert Oppenheimer") (PBS) - written by David Grubin
* American Masters (episode: "Jerome Robbins: Something To Dance About") (PBS) - written by Amanda Vaill
* Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business Of America (episode: "When I'm Bad, I'm Better--The Groundbreakers") (PBS) - written by Michael Kantorand Laurence Maslon
* Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (episode: "New Age Medicine") (Showtime) - written by Penn Jillette, Teller, Star Price, Rich Nathanson, Michael Goudeau, David Wechter, Cliff Schoenberg, and Sheryl Zohn

Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special
* Chris Rock for Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger (HBO) - written by Chris Rock
* 81st Annual Academy Awards (ABC)
* Louis C.K. for Louis C.K.: Chewed Up (Showtime)
* Will Ferrell for Will Ferrell: You're Welcome America. A Last Night with George W. Bush (HBO)
* Ricky Gervais for Ricky Gervais: Out of England (HBO)

The 2009 Primetime Emmys will be awarded next Sunday, the 20th of September. They were shifted back a week to avoid a clash with MTV's Music Awards ceremony.

Venice 66 Awards

The winners have been announced at the 66th Venice Film Festival.

  • Golden Lion for best film: Lebanon by Samuel Maoz (Israel, France, Germany) - co-written by Samuel Maoz and Maoz Shmulik
  • Silver Lion for best director: Shirin Neshat for the film Zanan-e bedun-e mardan (Women Without Men) (Germany, Austria, France) - written by Shirin Neshat
  • Special Jury Prize: Soul Kitchen by Fatih Akin (Germany) - written by Fatih Akin
  • Coppa Volpi for Best Actor: Colin Firth in the film A Single Man by Tom Ford (USA) - co-written by Tom Ford and David Scearce
  • Coppa Volpi for Best Actress: Ksenia Rappoport in the film La doppia ora by Giuseppe Capotondi (Italy) - co-written by Alessandro Fabbri, Ludovica Rampoldi and Stefano Sardo
  • "Marcello Mastroianni" Award for Best New Young Actor or Actress: Jasmine Trinca in the film Il grande sogno by Michele Placido (Italy) - co-written by Doriana Leondeff, Angelo Pasquini and Michele Placido
  • "Osella" for Best Technical Contribution: Sylvie Olivé for the film Mr. Nobody by Jaco van Dormael (France) - written by Jaco van Dormael
  • "Osella" for Best Screenplay: Todd Solondz for the film Life during Wartime by Todd Solondz (USA)

Thursday 10 September 2009

Darklight X Announced

Darklight X: New World Order (October 8 - 11), Ireland's celebration of art, film and technology, is a three-day event involving performances, screenings, workshops, seminars, symposiums, visual art happenings and much more. This year the festival is taking over Dublin's Smithfield district, where the Lighthouse Cinema and other venues will host a feast of events.

Highlights include:

  • A public interview and workshop with legendary music video director Mark Romanek. Mark directed the classic video for "Hurt" by Johnny Cash, and has worked with everyone from Michael Jackson and Madonna to Nine Inch Nails and Jay-Z.
  • The Irish premier of a major new video instillation, Three Potential Endings, from two-time Turner Prize nominee Willie Doherty, on Smithfield Plaza.
  • A celebration of Oscar-nominated Irish animation company Brown Bag.
  • Collaborations with cutting-edge Irish companies thisisnotashop, Synth Eastwood, Nartystation and Performance Corporation.
  • A discussion with Anna Troberg, the Vice-Chairwoman of Sweden's Pirate Party the political outfit dedicated to radical copyright reform who recently won two seats in the European elections.
  • Ten Irish filmmakers conspire to produce a brand new feature film in seven days! It's our latest DIY movie spectacular, Hotel Darklight!
  • The World Premiere of Vincent Moon's stunning Irish-lensed concert movie R.E.M. Live At The Olympia.
  • The debut of Virtual Cinema 2.0, the Irish Film Board's latest round of cutting-edge on-line short films.
  • A screening of Brendan Muldowney's Savage, the most controversial Irish film of 2009.
  • A weekend long Performance Lab with acclaimed artist Amanda Coogan.
  • The EA Hub Gaming Station, a spectacular outdoor gaming extravaganza.
  • O Canada! Screenings celebrating 70 years of the Canadian Film Board.
  • Plus: The Straylight visual art trail and unexpected happenings aplenty...
Booking information will be available on the web site from Friday, September 11 2009.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Herald Angel Sings for the Gate

On Saturday the Gate Theatre won the prestigious Herald Angel Award at Edinburgh for its Gate|Friel festival - a trilogy of plays by Irish playwright Brain Friel: Faith Healer, Afterplay, and The Yalta Game.

The Arts Council chairwoman Pat Moylan said: "coming hot on the heels of the success of Elaine Murphy's Little Gem [co-produced by Gúna Nua and Civic Theatre Tallaght], this is more great news from the Irish arts sector. Once again we see an example of the way Irish theatre holds its own all over the world, and it is fitting that the work of Brian Friel, in the year of his eightieth birthday, should be honoured in this way."

Ms. Moylan went on to say: "this demonstrates how the strategic partnership between the Arts Council, as the funder of so much original and innovative Irish work, and Culture Ireland, as the agency responsible for promoting that work overseas, can achieve significant results of which all Irish people can be rightly proud. Here's to more home-grown work wowing audiences at home before taking the world by storm in the years ahead -- despite the economic gloom! The message which can be taken from these successes when it comes to Ireland's international reputation is clear and simple: art matters."

There will be twenty performances of the Gate|Friel season at the Gate Theatre in Dublin, from today until Saturday 19 September.

SWF Approaches

The 4th International Screenwriters' Festival, takes place 26-29 October 2009 at the Cheltenham Ladies College in the English Cotswolds.

The festival will provide an opportunity for writers to connect with directors, producers, agents, development and studio execs, financiers and commissioners. It is a meeting place for screen storytellers in film and television, as well as in the fields of digital/online and gaming.

At the festival projects get picked up, new partnerships and alliances are forged and delegates are offered a menu of events that include keynote speeches, seminars, screenings, masterclasses, workshops and limitless networking opportunities with commissioning, production and agency talent.

The festival programme embraces all genres and attracts writers (both established and new), producers, directors, agents, developers, financiers and film executives. Last year saw some 600 attendees from 15 countries that included Australia, Spain, USA, Canada, France and Italy.

A 2 Day Ticket costs £246.00, and a 4 Day Ticket costs £389.00.

Also, Nicola Depuis is looking for writers with experience writing LBGT characters for film and television to take part in a symposium she is hoping to arrange at the Screenwriters Festival on the subject of writing LGBT characters for the screen. Please contact Nicola at 085-7874149 if you are attending the conference and have some background in this area.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Artists Tax Exemption is Deadweight, says Tax Commission

The Irish Times points out today that while the Tax Commission recommends the scrapping of the Artists Tax Exemption because it is a "deadweight" element, it proposes maintaining the Sportsperson's relief (subject to a cap) partly because of their "encouragement of positive role models which younger people may seek to emulate."

Here is the entire text of the reasoning behind the scrapping of the Artists Tax Exemption, as listed in the Tax Commission's report:

13.23 Artist’s exemption

Income derived from original and creative artistic works (of artists, writers, composers and sculptors), which are recognised as having cultural or artistic merit, is exempt from income tax.

This exemption is not compatible with the equity principle. In addition, it is likely that the exemption involves a significant deadweight element in that the beneficiaries of the relief are likely to engage in their creative activities regardless of the existence of the relief. It is of no benefit to artists whose income does not reach the taxable threshold.

While the tax exemption may have created an environment in which the arts can flourish, considerations of equity and efficiency outweigh this factor and, accordingly, we recommend that the exemption be discontinued. To the extent that there is a need for recognition of income from artistic activity in the tax system, this should focus on those who derive their income solely or predominantly from creative work and in this context, income averaging may have a role to play.

In making this recommendation we note also the fact that the Arts Council operates a system of grants in support of all arts disciplines.

Recommendation 8.98
The artist's exemption should be discontinued; consideration should be given to introducing income averaging in the taxation of income from creative work.

The emphasis in the quoted material is my own.

The concept that Artists should not receive any relief for their work because they would engage in it anyway is simply a leap of imagination on the part of the Tax Commission entirely without any factual basis, and implies an utter disdain for the work of Artists and their contribution to Irish culture. It also implies that Art has no cost: as if the time, materials, and tools that Artists require to perform their work is free.

In relation to the gross generalisation about the Arts Council funding, it is imperative to point out that there is intense competition for those grants, not everyone is in receipt of that aid, and the Arts Council is facing a vicious cut of its budget, which will result in a significant reduction of those few grants.

Thus the Tax Commission is going to scrap the Artists Exemption partly based on the concept that Artists are receiving grant aid - which most Artists don't receive on any kind of regular basis!

At no point is it noted that the payment of Artists in Ireland is calculated upon the fact that they are tax exempt, and if the exemption is scrapped Artists will need an equivalent pay increase - which no theatrical/production/publishing company or gallery is going to be able to match in this economy.

The dirty secret in Ireland is that writers/artists/musicians on the whole are vastly underpaid, not even matching the hourly minimum wage. It's true that many Artists' incomes don't meet the taxable threshold, but this horrific fact is not given any consideration.

The only argument in favour of getting rid of the tax exemption would be if it resulted in an improvement of Artists' wages (which would bring in a proper revenue stream for the government). This would require a mandatory overhaul of the payment schemes for Artists in Ireland. Yet, clearly this idea has never entered the consciousness of the Tax Commission.

It's going to scrap a scheme that has allowed Artists to endure the long process of establishing a career (often reckoned at ten years) on low and inconsistent incomes. The Tax Commission makes a throwaway concession that Artists often endure on erratic wages (one large payment may have to cover several years work), but doesn't offer any comprehensive solution for this issue.

And apparently sportspeople make excellent role models for young people, but Artists do not.

If the Tax Commission's recommendation comes to pass then certainly Artists won't be role models for young people, because they will be on the streets, broke.

BBC Radio Sketches Needed

The BBC 4 sketch comedy radio show, Recorded for Training Purposes, is searching for new writers.

The third series went out in January 2009. For that run there was a core writing team of people who’d written on the first two series but the show was also opened up to, well, anyone who wanted a go. Of the 110 sketches broadcast, exactly half were from the core writers, with the other half being sent in by non-commissioned writers.

Every sketch sent in (about 2,000) was read by at least two people from BBC Radio Comedy, with the best stuff gradually being filtered towards the recording scripts, and the stuff that got most laughs getting on air.

It has a cast of six - three men, three women - who can, between them, play most ages.

Series four will, like series three, be written by a mix of a) some people who have written on previous series and b) everyone else in the world.

Only two sketches will be accepted per applicant - details on how to apply on are on the web site.

The deadline for entries is: 12:00 (midnight), 2 October 2009

Hardy Bucks Win Storyland

The winners of RTÉ's Storyland webisode competition is Hardy Bucks. The final episode will be online today.

The series is co-written by Martin Maloney and Chris Tordoff, directed by Tordoff, and produced by Maloney.

Monday 7 September 2009

Irish Times on Artists Tax Exemption

The Irish Times also reports on the recommendation to end the Artist's Tax Exemption, and quotes Pat Moylan, Chairwoman of the Arts Council, extensively in the piece:

Ms. Moylan warned that the loss of the tax exemption could discourage people from continuing a career in the arts, and denied it was a "rich man's relief".

"The greatest number of its beneficiaries struggle for financial viability on a year-on-year basis. This is true of relatively unknown beneficiaries, as well as certain of Ireland’s most internationally renowned and critically acclaimed artists," she said.

"Arts Council research has shown that over half the beneficiaries of the Scheme have average earnings of less than half the minimum wage. Of the two per cent who are considered high earners, most of whom are in popular music and writing, only one-third of their income qualifies for the relief."

Ms Moylan said having high profile artists such as U2, Louis le Brocquy, Seamus Heany, Jim Sheridan, Roddy Doyle, John Banville and others resident in Ireland was important for the country's profile.

"Apart from the global perception this creates for Ireland, it has helped put in place world class local infrastructures in artistic management and technical expertise. For up and coming artists, this is of considerable assistance. Without the high earners, who support the infrastructure in a major way, this professional layer would be lost to Ireland," she said.

Artist's Tax Exemption Information

I reported recently on the recommendation in the latest report by the Commission On Taxation to scrap the Artist's Tax Exemption.

Since our members are most likely in the process of petitioning their government representatives I thought it useful to inform everyone that there is a .pdf copy online of the 550-page report.

To save anyone wading through the document I can point out that the part in relation to the Artist's Tax Exemption is a mere two lines on page 27:

8.98 The artist's exemption should be discontinued; consideration should be given to introducing income averaging in the taxation of income from creative work.

It's astonishing how such a bald statement can impact so many lives so severely.

Storyland Final

Voting closes today at 5pm for RTÉ's webisode competition Storyland. The Finalists are:

  • Hardy Bucks
  • Rental Boys

Friday 4 September 2009

Screenwriting for Beginners

Ferdia Mac Anna -- Novelist, Playwright, Screenwriter and Lecturer in Film and Drama -- is offering a Screenwriting for Beginners course, starting on Sunday, September 20, 2009 from 10am - 1pm.

The 8 sessions are aimed at beginners or those with some script writing or fiction writing experience and will cover Character Creation, Writing Treatments and Loglines, Emotional Writing, Visual Writing, Scene Breakdowns, Plot, The Three Act Structure and Dialogue.

By the end, the participant should have written several key scenes and established key plot points and crucial story structure elements for their screenplay. They should also have created one or more plausible characters.

The course will cover some TV drama as well as feature film writing.

It will take place every Sunday morning at Sundrive Road, Kimmage, Dublin 12, and the fee is €600.

Those interested in attending the course can contact Ferdia on 087-2957433.

Thursday 3 September 2009

EU People's Choice

Voting is open in the People's Choice Award, which allows film fans across Europe to elect their favourite film.

Every year, when the European Film Academy invites its members, Europe's greatest film stars, directors, producers, cinematographers, screenwriters, designers, but also industry representatives and the international media, to attend the European Film Awards, the People's Choice Award sheds a spotlight on the people films are made for: the audience.

Those who vote could win a chance to attend the 22nd European Film Awards on Saturday the 12th of December in Germany’s Ruhr Metropolis, the European Capital of Culture 2010.

The nominees are:

Director: Uli Edel
Screenwriter & Producer: Bernd Eichinger

Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Screenwriter: Pedro Almodóvar

Director: Anne Fontaine
Screenwriters: Anne & Camille Fontaine

Director: Saul Dibb
Screenwriters: Jeffrey Hatcher, Anders Thomas Jensen & Saul Dibb

Director: Ben Stassen
Screenwriter: Domonic Paris

Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Screenwriters: Rasmus Heisterberg & Nikolaj Arcel

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Screenwriter: John Ajvide Lindqvist

Director: Gianni di Gregorio
Screenwriter: Gianni di Gregorio

Director: Danny Boyle
Screenwriter: Simon Beaufoy

Director: Olivier Megaton
Screenwriters: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen

Free Abbey Tickets

For Culture Night, on Friday 25 September, the Abbey Theatre is giving out 25 free tickets for both the Abbey Talk with Enda Walsh (6-6.45pm) and The New Electric Ballroom (8pm) on the Peacock stage.

To get a free ticket ring the Abbey Theatre Box Office on (01) 87 87 222 or call in on 25 September from 10.30am. Tickets will be given out on a first-come first-served basis.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Little Gem Wins Award

At the weekend the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award, the highest honour at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, was awarded to Little Gem written by Elaine Murphy and directed by Paul Meade, produced by Gúna Nua Theatre Company and the Civic Theatre, with support from Culture Ireland.

Carol Tambor and members of her Foundation, along with The Scotsman's arts writers Joyce Macmillian, Jackie McGlone and Mark Fisher, chose the winning production.

Carol Tambor said: "Little Gem is a little gem. It has exciting language and exciting acting, and the moment I sat down I was totally involved. I loved the family in the play, and the special relationship between the three generations of women felt really authentic."

Eugene Downes, CEO of Culture Ireland, commented: "For a new Irish play to win the most prestigious award at the world's largest arts festival is an extraordinary achievement for Elaine Murphy, for Gúna Nua and the outstanding cast of actors. It's striking evidence of Ireland's world-class success in the arts. This award opens the door to New York and Culture Ireland looks forward to working closely with the Carol Tambor Foundation to promote Little Gem.'

The Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation was established to bring excellent dramatic work to the New York audience by funding a New York run. The mission to support artists in their desire to be seen and produced is carried out with no financial or commercial involvement in their future success.

Free Theatre Tickets

Ulster Bank, the main sponsors of the Dublin Theatre Festival, are offering free tickets to the Indian production Manganiyar Seduction at the Gaiety Theatre available on a first-come first-served basis.

The 1,000 free tickets will be valid for the September 23rd show. According to the festival programme the play is "the most colourful, joyous and inspiring show likely to be seen this year."

Register for the free tickets via their web site.

Bursary Deadline Extended

The Arts Council announced recently that the deadline for the next round of Bursary awards (originally 5 November 2009) has been extended and the new deadline is 21 January 2010.

The Bursary Award is focused on individual artists. The primary purpose of the Bursary Award is to support professional artists in developing their art. It aims to provide artists with the time, resources and freedom to think, research, reflect and develop their practice.

Revised application forms and guidelines will be available shortly.

Edinburgh Fringe Prize 2009

The winners of the Edinburgh Fringe Prize 2009 were announced on Monday:

The prize was awarded to three of the most innovative theatre makers appearing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2009. All three will be invited to present a work in progress as part of the Edinburgh International Festival's Behind the Scenes programme in 2010.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Don't Make Me Laugh

The Irish Film Board has announced that it is organising a panel discussion at the Dingle Film Festival called Don't Make Me Laugh, which will explore the art of writing comedy for the screen

Don't Make Me Laugh will be chaired by IFB Development Executive Andrew Meehan and panelists will include Emmy Award winning screenwriter Marc Flanagan; stage, radio, screen and TV writer Pearse Elliot, (Man About Dog); and producer Ned Dowd. The seminar will explore the challenges of writing comedy for the screen, different ways of developing character, the role of TV in developing talent as well as looking at what makes comedy travel.

Marc Flanagan is a two-time Emmy award-winner, writer and producer of the very funny Tracy Ullman Show while Pearse Elliot wrote and directed the Irish comedy box office success Man About Dog as well as The Mighty Celt. Ned Dowd is producer of a number of comedies including Shanghai Noon and The Wonderboys. The panel will take place in the Festival Marquee, Garden Café on Friday 10th September.

Following on the theme of comedies there will be a special screening of award winning Irish short comedies on Sunday 13th September at 11am in The Phoenix Cinema. The mix of animated and live action shorts include Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty, Whatever Turns You On and The Wednesdays.