The main industry film festival in Ireland took place last week in Galway (the Galway Film Fleadh) and arrangements for it and attendance at it took over most of the last two weeks. In response to your queries our replies are as follows:

  1. Screen Ireland (formerly the Irish Film Board) was set up as a statutory body under the Irish Film Board Act (1980) as amended (“The Act”). The funding provided to it which is invested in film production (€14.4m in 2018) comes from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and is categorised as capital funding i.e. the same fund that covers the construction of theatres, art galleries and arts centres etc. This is different from the Irish Arts Council which is funded out of current government expenditure from the same Department. Screen Ireland also receives approximately €3m out of current expenditure from that Department to cover staff and overheads to run the organisation. As a statutory agency it is independent of government with a specific remit as set out in Section 4 of the Act as follows:

 

(1)In addition and without prejudice to any specific functions given to it by this Act, the Board shall assist and encourage by any means it considers appropriate the making of films in the State and the development of an industry in the State for the making of films, and may engage in any other activity (including the establishment of a national film archive) which it is empowered by this Act to engage in.

 

(2) In so far as it considers it appropriate, the Board shall have regard to the need for the expression of national culture through the medium of film-making.

 

(3) The Board shall have all such powers as are necessary for or incidental to the performance of its functions.

(4) Without prejudice to the generality of subsections (1) and (3) of this section, the Board shall have power to participate and promote participation in international collaborative projects in accordance with any of its functions under this Act and, where appropriate, to enter into agreements with comparable bodies outside the State, subject to the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance and, where appropriate, to consultation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

 

  1. Screen Ireland does provide funding for feature films, feature documentaries, TV drama (currently development only) and TV animation. It does not provide funding for factual or entertainment television and doesn’t provide funding for computer games. The recently published Olsberg Report/ SPI with Nordicity Report makes recommendations in relation to Screen Ireland funding as per link https://www.o-spi.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Olsberg-SPI-Analysis-of-the-Audiovisual-Sector-in-the-Republic-of-Ireland.pdf

 

        3.You use the word “commercial funding”. The genres of works we support range from the experimental to those that generate significant revenue and we would not distinguish between “commercial” and “non-commercial” work.

We do not have any specific requirements in relation to spend in Ireland (apart from our creative coproduction funding where the Irish producer is a minority co-producer and we require a certain level of “Irish Admissible Expenditure” see link https://www.screenireland.ie/funding/production-loans/fiction-creative-co-production). Our support is for Irish creative talent lead by Irish writers, Irish directors and Irish creative producers. We do take into consideration production in Ireland as one of the criteria in our assessment of projects but there have been examples of projects Screen Ireland has supported which undertook principal photography elsewhere (e.g. “Room” where the writer Emma Donoghue was Irish, the director Lenny Abrahamson was Irish and the producers Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe were Irish but the film was shot in Canada and the story was US set).

As to the development of the Irish screen industry the primary Irish government measure in support of this is the tax credit known as Section 481. Our role is to support Irish creative talent so that a strong indigenous sector can develop and grow.  This is in addition to the inward production and indigenous production which section 481 supports. Screen Ireland also fulfils the role of a Screen Commission promoting Ireland as a location for inward production.

You ask about “culturally valuable productions” and how “cultural value” is measured. Irish creative talent telling the stories on screen they want to tell is in our view innately culturally valuable. We do have a strong preference for Irish stories drawing on and depicting Ireland’s culture, history, way of life, view of the world and of itself but again we do not exclude stories with no overt Irish storyline as long as the story is told by Irish creative talent. This is set out in detail in our Principles and Criteria -  https://www.screenireland.ie/funding/principles-criteria

Screen Ireland was modelled originally (in the 1970’s) on the New Zealand Film Commission as well as on the various national film agencies throughout the European Union. It sees itself as a cultural organisation but also with an industry remit and it was this duality that was seen as important to combine in one organisation (as opposed to the Arts Council on the one hand and Enterprise Ireland on the other hand) so that both remits could be fulfilled in a coordinated manner.

The growth of an indigenous film industry and encouraging non Irish productions to shoot in Ireland are both part of Screen Ireland’s remit. The indigenous industry is supported by promoting Irish creative talent through Screen Ireland funding and Section 481. Inward production is supported by Section 481 and Screen Ireland undertaking a Screen Commission role both in relation to locations and promotional visits (to encourage inward production) both at home (“fam” tours that is familiarisation tours) and abroad (trade missions).

Screen Ireland also incorporates Screen Training Ireland with a remit for training and skills needs. Screen Ireland’s roles could be described as follows:

i)             To promote Irish creative talent on in film and screen content (the development, production and cinema distribution funding which is paid out by Screen Ireland goes towards this remit).

ii)           To promote inward production which is done by our Inward Production Manager and his team and includes expenditure on location scouting, “fam” tours, international delegations etc.

iii)          Training and skills needs through Screen Training Ireland.