Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Meanwhile, from Belfast...

Comes news of Northern Ireland Screen's annual report for 2009-2010 (they run on the UK budgetary year which ended on March 31st, 2010). Allow me as an aside to point out that we are still waiting for the IFB's Annual Reports for 2008 and 2009. (Update 30/7/2010: the IFB's annual report for 2008 has just been published on the agency's website, dated June 22, 2010)

The headline grabber is Northern Ireland Screen’s main production investment fund returned £22 million to the local economy at a ratio of 5.5:1, on an investment of £3.9 million.

Whether the gearing would be quite so positive across total production spend is another matter, but it is a good return nonetheless and it would be useful to know the methodology they use in coming to that figure.

A recent evaluation by KPMG found that over three years, 2007-2010, Northern Ireland Screen Fund exceeded its target, delivering an economic return of around £45 million into the Northern Ireland economy – a ratio of 4.6:1, against investment of £9.8m.

More than half of last year's £22m spend came from Universal's Your Highness which made use of one of Northern Ireland's greatest production assets, the Painthall Studio. Production has just started there on the HBO series, Game of Thrones which will give another major boost to spend in Northern Ireland this year.

The era of cross-border co-production with the IFB seems to have reached a hiatus with, I hear, little inclination from the latter agency to support projects such as Killing Bono shooting in Northern Ireland. I'm open to correction on this.

Tellingly there is no reference to the UKFC's demise on NI Screen's website although there must be some concern as to how funding that came from or through the UKFC to NIScreen will be channelled in future, particularly the Irish Language Broadcast Fund.

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