Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fleadh addition

A Kiss for Jed Wood has been added to the Galway Film Fleadh programme, getting its World Premiere screening at 5.15pm on Friday, July 9 at the Omniplex.

Produced by Tim Palmer at Ignition Pictures, the story about a girl on a reality show mission in New York is written by Barry Devlin and director Maurice Linnane and is due to be released in Autumn this year.

Sound & Vision

The BAI has announced the latest funding decisions of Sound & Vision II – the Broadcasting Funding Scheme which (like the equivalent Radio scheme) is financed from a levy on the national TV licence.

Grants amounting to about €7m have been awarded, in principle, to support the production of 38 television projects meeting the scheme's remit to deal with themes of Irish Culture, Heritage and Experience.

This is the first round of television funding to be approved by the BAI, which was established in October 2009, succeeding the BCI, and the ninth round of television funding to be operated since the commencement of the Broadcasting Fund in 2006.

The funding was approved, in principle, by the Authority at its meeting on 28th June "following the consideration of recommendations from the assessment process which involved the input of industry and thematic experts."

In total, 106 applications were received by the Authority in April requesting grants of €22.6 million. The BAI will now begin the process of contract negotiations with all successful applicants.

Since this is a blog about film I'll touch only on those 'programmes' which are of feature length, or correspond to known film projects. It was notable, about three years back, that the Sound & Vision awards were having a very positive impact on the financing of Irish feature films - Hunger, Garage, Kings and others.

In recent years, however, there has been a marked reduction in the number of feature films supported by the fund, perhaps because there has been a reluctance on the part of some broadcasters to give those projects their backing.

The BAI (and the BCI before it) are to be commended for the transparency of the funding information they make available. Stating the amount of the grant and the maximum percentage of budget makes it very clear for all concerned what the financial parameters for each project are.

The fact that the money is a grant, rather than a loan, also simplifies matters for the producers and, theoretically at least, should give them a stronger negotiating and recoupment position with regard to other sources of finance.

Harvest Films, Bi-lingual, Drama, Contemporary Society, RTE,
Up to a maximum of: €165,000; Max.% of total budget: 25%; 1 x 80 mins

Stella Days
Newgrange Pictures, English, Drama, History/Heritage, RTE,
Up to a maximum of: €270,000; Max.% of total budget: 10%, 1 x 90 mins

A Glacier Beneath
Image Now Films, English, Docum, Science/Nature/Environment, RTE
Up to a maximum of: €140,000; Max.% of total budget: 25%; 1 x 100 mins

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fleadh Time

The Galway Film Fleadh have announced their programme which, I suspect, contains more Irish features and feature documentaries than ever before. There are some unfortunate either/or choices that will have to be made by audiences.

Given the numbers, different venues and so on, the Fleadh will have a job on their hands to manage the voting system so every new Irish title has a transparent chance at the audience awards. Time / location are key determinants of what an audience can get to, especially if they also want to eat occasionally! But best, I suppose, to be spoilt for choice.

There are a few very interesting 'below-the-radar' productions and I hope they don't suffer from the time or location of their screening. I'd be interested to see Paul Farren and Stephen Walsh's collaboration Where The Sea Used To Be and Magma's Jack Taylor, together with the many funded debut features from PJ Dillon, Ian Power, Carmel Winters and others.

For ease of info, here's a list (with links) of the Irish feature-length drama and documentary in the Fleadh this year - July 06-11:

My Brothers (Opening Film)

Na Cloigne (120min version of TG4's three-part series)

Wild Cards Six low-budget features, showing all day Thursday 8th in the Cinemobile.

Nothing Personal

The Pipe

Seachtar Na Cásca (private screening)

Come On Eileen


In Dreams (Annette Bening tribute) rare chance to see the Neil Jordan film on the big screen.

Counting Sheep

The Fading Light

Jimmy Murakami - Non Alien


Where The Sea Used To Be

All Good Children

The Looking Glass


Seaside Stories

Five Day Shelter*
*Update: I have heard that the producers withdrew this film from the Fleadh after the programme went to press.

The Runway

Jack Taylor



Broken Tail

Between The Canals

A Prayer For The Windhorse

Many other Irish short documentaries, shorts and animation, all findable through the Fleadh website.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

His & Hers - Arts Council Film Bursaries

Interesting to hear the marketing push on the radio for His & Hers which goes on release tomorrow. It's a conscious decision, I imagine, to market the film to women given the perception that men are attending to the World Cup and little else for the next few weeks.

Given last weekend's box office results that would appear to be the way the land lies at the moment with S&TC2 and Letters to Juliet doing okay business while Brooklyn's Finest in the third spot didn't quite hit €80k from 33 prints.

The lacklustre business should work to the benefit of His & Hers, allowing it to build some decent word of mouth over a couple of weeks with less pressure on screens from incoming product and before the primary schools close at the end of the month.

It will also be interesting to track the demographic response to the film. It is one of those Irish films that could play well to an older or cross-generational audience with stronger percentage admissions than usual from outside the greater Dublin area.

Within Dublin it will be interesting to see the comparative audience numbers for those 'art house' cinemas that usually do not compete with each other on the same titles. Will the strategy increase the audience significantly or split it between the venues?

It is a film I liked very much when I saw it last year. It is entertaining and moving but above all it is life-affirming, which is perhaps the best we can hope for when we go to the cinema. The easy rapport with its subjects is its greatest achievement, captured with some formidable composition which only once or twice strays momentarily into self-consciousness.

The only issue I have with the marketing I have heard so far is that it seems to infer that it's exclusively a film for women. It isn't.


The Arts Council announced artists' bursary awards last week. For many disciplines this was the first of two rounds this year, but not for film. It's disappointing therefore that only four bursaries were given to film makers. There is a second round bursary awards deadline of July 15 for Architecture, Dance, Literature, Traditional Arts, and Visual Arts. The bursary grant ceiling is €15,000.

The Council received 650 applications in Round 1 and offered 111 awards across eleven disciplines, as follows:
3 Architecture
4 Arts Participation
7 Dance
4 Film
22 Literature (in English)
4 Literature (in Irish)
14 Music
11 Theatre
3 Traditional Arts
5 Young people children and the arts
34 Visual artists

The film makers recieving the bursary award which supports professional individual artists working in the field of experimental or non narative [sic] film making to develop their arts practice are -

Agnieszka Grandowicz, Dublin - €12,000

Patrick Jolley, Waterford - €15,000 (Multi-annual, for the second year 2011)

Nicky Larkin, Offaly - €12,000

Joe Lawlor, International - €15,000

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Working hypotheses...

I watched Neil Jordan's The Butcher Boy on TG4 last night. It's one of the most Irish of films in front of the camera, and perhaps only slightly less so (at HOD level) behind the camera.

From time to time I paused the credits as they rolled, noting the Irish crew members established by then in their careers. Then there were the once familiar names that have become less familiar, and those others that have in the intervening years risen to the top of their particular craft. I have to say there were few enough of the latter.

It occurred to me then that there's a very basic but useful piece of research to be done by going through the credits for features and major TV drama produced in Ireland from 1993 to, say, 2003, and doing a 'where are they now?' exercise.

How many are still working in the business in Ireland? How many are still working in the business but not in, or only occasionally in Ireland? How many are no longer working in the business, and why?

It would give us a reasonable overview of the reality of career development in the 'industry', and the levels of attrition due to the freelance/temporary nature of the employment.

I think the methodology would be no less credible than that used in other employment research in the sector. There have been few longitudinal studies, that I am aware of, and survey focus has usually been quite diffuse.

It might confirm what one hears anecdotally, that for all the funding that has been poured into sector since 1993 - somewhat over €1.3bn - it would seem that comparatively few permanent jobs or upper-grade crew careers have been established here in Ireland.

For example, it seems true that there are more Irish DOPs now than ever there used to be, but how many working days are there for DOPs in Ireland each year, and how many of the jobs are filled by non-Irish DOPs since non-Irish directors filming projects part-financed in Ireland often, if not always, use their regular DOP.

Irish DOPs very often work, or may be based outside Ireland - like Brendan Galvin (Immortals), Seamus McGarvey (We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Robbie Ryan (Wuthering Heights)*, or James Mather who's co-directing Lock Out for Luc Besson's Europa Corp.

So, the amount of work in Ireland in any given year, and the arc of individual careers do not necessarily correlate. And if one were to look at other heads of department the picture might not appear quite so positive.

To reiterate the questions I posed earlier - of the Irish crew members working in Ireland between 1993 and 2003, how many are still working in the business in Ireland? How many are still working in the business but not in, or only occasionally in Ireland? And how many are no longer working in the business, and why?

The answers might give us a more realistic basis for discussions about employment in the sector on programmes like this one (about 20 minutes in) back in February.

*Edit - I should have noted that Wuthering Heights was offered a €330,000 production loan by the IFB under the Fiction Creative Co-production heading on November 24, 2009. The film was shot in Yorkshire. The Irish co-producer is Fantastic Films.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Irish Film Distribution

My article how Irish films have been faring at the Irish box office is in today's Irish Times and can be read online here.

There wasn't sufficient space for the following tables of Irish box office grosses for Irish films 2007-2010.

Irish Films Released in 2010
Title ------------------ €Total
Perrier's Bounty 318,067
Leap Year 286,056
Ondine 220,420
Zonad 36,000*
Eamon 11,200*
Cherrybomb 8,107
Trafficked 2,900*
The Fading Light 1,771
Foxes 380*
Dorothy Mills 312
8.5 Hours n/a
The Daisy Chain n/a

SOURCE: Ted Sheehy

Irish Films 2007-2009

Title ------------------ €Total
Becoming Jane - 441,486
Garage - 305,952
Once - 272,559
Shrooms - 245,141
Strength and Honour - 234,184*
The Ugly Duckling and Me - 188,597*
How About You - 135,000
Kings - 86,000
Speed Dating - 44,264
Small Engine Repair - 14,323

*see also 2008

Title ------------------ €Total
Hunger - 561,508
City of Ember - 290,543
Kisses Element - 180,000
A Film With Me In It - 112,431
32A Janey Pictures 55,000
The Escapist - 47,190
Niko and the Way to the Stars - N/A
Ugly Duckling and Me* - 25,834
Strength and Honour* - 24,284
Saviours - 16,974
Alarm - 16,000
Summer of the Flying Saucer - 4,633
Botched - 2,000
Anton - N/A

*initially released in 2007

Title ------------------ €Total
Fifty Dead Men Walking - 267,470
Waveriders - 125,000
The Secret of Kells - 73,452
Happy Ever Afters - 41,599
The Yellow Bittern - 23,000
Wide Open Spaces - 19,500
Cracks - 16,000
Situations Vacant - 12,000
The Dead (Reissue) - 5,099
Helen - 4,248
WC – 1,293

SOURCE: InProduction Box Office Review