Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Work in Progress...

In a post at the beginning of the month (here) I said I would write a post about multiple offers to individuals/companies in the same Irish Film Board funding rounds and take a look at the perception that Board members are somehow connected with an undue proportion of projects funded by the agency.

Well, I'm beginning to wish I hadn't because it's turned into an excel file that looks very like a minefield. There are more questions than answers.

If you've been around this business long enough in what is, after all, a very small country, you will know many of the personal and professional connections between people. But one-time joint directors of a company may no longer be on speaking terms. A former producing-directing partnership may have irreconcilable differences.

And, even if there is a connection, direct or indirect between individuals or between individuals and companies and any state funding agency, one cannot necessarily infer that the connection constitutes what might be termed an 'interest'.

It would be useful to know how the IFB defines such an 'interest'.

And again, when it comes to the disbursement of public funding, an offer of a development or production loan does not in itself mean that the money has been given over.

Might it mean, however, that other applications were turned down or not considered because scarce resources were already committed?

And what of those circumstances where loans are provided to projects submitted by third-party companies that then hire companies or individuals who, being paid subsequently for work or services, might be perceived to have benefited, indirectly, from decisions they had a part in? Might that be construed as an 'interest'?

It may be that this is just a matter of perception. Let's see what is on the record. Here is the relevant passage from the Irish Film Board's latest annual report (for 2008):

Board Members - Disclosure of Transactions
In the normal course of business the Irish Film Board may approve assistance to film projects and enter into other contractual arrangements with undertakings in which Board Members are employed or otherwise interested. The Irish Film Board has adopted procedures in relation to the disclosures of interests by Board members and these procedures were adhered to during the year. In 2008 the following loans were approved in which a Board Member was employed or had an interest:
Lesley McKimm Newgrange Pictures
Happy Ever Afters (Production) 250,000. Newgrange Pictures also received three unquantified offers of assistance for the production of Stella Days (Feature Film), Killing Time (Documentary) and Population (Documentary) in 2008.
James Morris Treasure Entertainment
The Eclipse (Production) 850,000
Tristan Orpen Lynch Subotica Entertainment
La Mula (Production) 500,000, Advance Party (Development) 15,000, An Evening of Long Goodbyes (Development) 25,000, Bernadette (Development) 30,000, Tillsonburg (Development) 21,000, Unless (Development) 25,000
Kirsten Sheridan Blindside Films
Some Rain Must Fall (Development) 20,000

Total €1,736,000

1. The actual loan figure given for Happy Ever Afters in the accounts is €1,000,000, perhaps €750,000 was committed in 2007? Also 197,500 is credited to Newgrange in the accounts under the Multiple Project Development scheme, perhaps the decision predates the appointment of the then Board, or the full value of the MPD scheme was accounted for in an earlier report?
2. A further €325,919 for Treasure Entertainment is in the accounts under the Multiple Project Development scheme, perhaps the decision predates the appointment of the then Board, or the full value of the MPD scheme was accounted for in an earlier report?
3. It is stated in the report, inter alia that the IFB will pay "serious attention" to submissions or applications where, "the amount of BSÉ/IFB’s investment corresponds to the level of involvement of Irish personnel, elements and facilities in the project." Should we presume that members of the Board absent themselves from decisions regarding projects which result in the hiring of "personnel, elements and facilities" with which they may be associated? Would the particular involvement of Irish personnel, elements and facilities be known at the time a project is submitted?
4. In 2008 the IFB had just over four production loan applications for feature films per month (51), of which about half were successful.
5. Approximately 60 fiction development loan applications were successful in 2008, giving a 'success' rate of about 25%.
6. How does the IFB provide financially for "unquantified offers of assistance"?
7. If the total quoted above - €1,736,000 - is accurate, what percentage does it represent of total production and development loans in 2008? Is that percentage higher or lower than in previous years, and how do 2009 and 2010 compare?
8. Should a funded production run into difficulties, may any Board members associated with the project be involved in decisions concerning that project?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

'Reel Art' 2010

I missed the details of this year's Reel Art documentary scheme when it was first announced so, in case anyone else missed it you can find the info on the Reel Art website here.

Over the last couple of years the scheme has resulted in a number of very interesting documentary projects. Reel Art intentionally affords a high degree of creative freedom to the film-maker, helped by the fact that the documentaries are intended for the big screen rather than television.

The closing date for applications is October 18, 2010.

IFB hires Deloitte

In a repeat of the process that selected Simon Perry as new CEO in 2005, the Irish Film Board is going through Deloitte Executive Selection to find a replacement who will take up the reins on January 1st, 2011.

This is good news because there was a possibility that the public service recruitment ban might have been applied. This has resulted, for instance, in the loss of frontline nursing services for the elderly in this part of the world.

If you are interested in the CEO position at the IFB you should forward a CV in confidence to Mark O’Donnell, Director, Executive Selection, Deloitte, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, Ireland. (Tel: +353 1 417 2580 Email: The closing date for applications is Friday, 8th October.

The person being sought will have strong people management, negotiation and financial management skills; will require proven experience and qualifications to ensure the ongoing progress and development of a distinct and creatively led Irish Film Making sector; [and] will also be expected to oversee the implementation of policies to develop the broader Film and Television production industry.

Salary is not mentioned but I believe it is currently in the region of €110,000pa (contingent on increments, payment of a 2.5% public service pay increase, and recent salary reductions in the public service).

There is also a 20% performance 'package', plus an Accommodation Allowance. The latter allowance is not that common in the public service and may only apply because the agency is split between its HQ in Galway and its Dublin offices where many of the 16 staff are based full-time.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Donal Gilligan RIP

Just the other day I passed a sign for 'Gilligan's' on the roadside on the way home from Roscommon town. I thought of Donal and made a mental note to ask him if he had Roscommon roots the next time I ran into him. It turns out that he had those roots, but it was shocking to learn it from an obituary for a man so young.

I recall Donal almost exactly 21 years ago, helmet on, puttering around on his bike - was it a Honda 50 or a Yamaha? - as we got ready to shoot The School Bus.

It was a paying gig which, in the days before funded schemes and the restitution of the IFB, was pretty unusual on a short film. The shoot was fraught for a variety of reasons, all of them usual enough on a short film.

1989. The country lanes around Roundwood. The Norseman. It seems like several lifetimes ago now. Rest in peace, Donal.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Essentially Irish?

Compare and contrast the following press regarding the new Jerzy Skolimowski film Essential Killing which picked up three important awards at the recent Venice Film Festival.

I think I saw one Irish commentator remark in passing that it was 'largely filmed in Ireland'. I believe the film was actually shot in Israel, Norway and Poland, but I'm open to correction.

The film did employ a couple of Irish crew members and sound post-production took place in Ireland. It wasn't on the list of films using the Section 481 tax break that I listed back in May, but it may have been certified subsequently.

The film (as Essence Of Killing) received either €250,000 or €250,000 x 2 (€500,000) from the Irish Film Board. The confusion being that loan offers of €250,000 seem to have been made twice, once in August 2009 and again in early 2010.

from FNE:
Essential Killing to compete for Oscar
15 September 2010 By FNE Staff
WARSAW: Following Essential Killing winning the special jury prize this year in Venice, Agnieszka Odorowicz has announced that the Polish Film Institute ( ) will try to enter Jerzy Skolimowski's film into regular distribution in the United States so it can compete for the Academy Awards in all the feature film categories.
The Polish candidate for best foreign language film is All That I Love, directed by Jacek Borcuch and produced by Prasa & Film ( ) but because Essential Killing has no dialogue it can compete outside this category.
"Essential Killing is a masterpiece," Odorowicz said, "a film from a director who creates cinema that is artistic and formally tasteful. It is worth pointing out that Vincent Gallo was awarded for best actor even though the movie has no dialogue. It is a universal story about a man who is terrified and fights for his life."
The film was financed by the Polish Film Institute (, produced by Skopia Film of Poland (, Hungary's Mythberg Films (, Ireland's Element Pictures and Norwegian Cylinger (sic) Productions. Hanway Films ( is handling international sales.

Hanway Films PR
VENICE, Sept 12 - "Essential Killing", a Jeremy Thomas presentation directed by Jerzy Skolimowski, has won an unprecedented three awards at last night's ceremony in Venice, taking home the Special Jury Prize, Best Actor (Vincent Gallo), and the Cinemavveniere Award for Best Film in Competition (youth jury).
In a rare coup, "Essential Killing" received both the Best Actor and Special Jury Prizes. Traditionally at Venice, Best Actor is not twinned with any other major awards for the same film. This year's jury, headed by Quentin Tarantino, was forced to ask Festival head Marco Mueller to break the rules. It is said that Tarantino particularly argued to recognize the film, and he led a standing ovation from the jury as Skolimowski accepted the Special Jury Prize.
Centring on an Afghani political prisoner (Gallo) who escapes from a secret detention centre into a vast snowy woodland in Eastern Europe, "Essential Killing" achieved an uncanny prescience earlier this week when the existence of CIA black sites in Poland were acknowledged by the Polish government.
Gallo, an enigmatic presence throughout the Festival, did not attend to accept his Best Actor award. Taking the stage on his behalf, Skolimowski entreated Gallo to take courage and reveal himself in the audience, leading a chant of "Vin-cent".
HanWay films is handling international sales and marketing.
"Essential Killing", a Jeremy Thomas presentation, directed by Jerzy Skolimowski. Written and produced by Ewa Piaskowska and Jerzy Skolimowski, and Executive-produced by Jeremy Thomas.
Thomas has had a long history with Venice, premiering many titles at the Festival such as Takashi Miike's "13 Assassins" this year, and recently Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Dreamers", Takeshi Kitano's "Brother" and Claire Peploe's "Triumph of Love".
Under his Recorded Picture Company banner, Thomas has produced or executive-produced over fifty films, including the nine-time Oscar winner "The Last Emperor". RPC is known for its strong relationships with leading directors such as Bernardo Bertolucci, Takeshi Kitano, David Cronenberg and Stephen Frears, and has films with Phillip Noyce, Terry Gilliam and Vincenzo Natali upcoming.
RPC is currently in post-production on David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method" starring Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender and Vincent Cassel.
HanWay Films' current slate includes Andrea Arnold's "Wuthering Heights", "13 Assassins" by Takashi Miike, "Made In Dagenham" by Nigel Cole starring Sally Hawkins, "Super" starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Paige and Liv Tyler, and the animated feature "Chico and Rita" by director Fernando Trueba and the artist Mariscal.

From the Irish Film Board
Irish Feature ESSENTIAL KILLING Wins Three Awards at Venice Festival
ESSENTIAL KILLING, directed by Jerzy Skolimowski, picked up both the Special Jury Prize and the CinemAvvenire Award while lead actor in the film Vincent Gallo scooped the Best Actor award at the 67th Venice International Film Festival which ran from 1st - 11th September.
ESSENTIAL KILLING tells the story of Mohammed (Vincent Gallo), a Taliban fighter who is captured by the US military in Afghanistan, and is transported to a secret military black site somewhere in the Eastern Europe. When the armed convoy he is riding in plummets off a steep hill, Mohammed finds himself suddenly free and on the run behind the enemy lines, among a hostile, snow blanketed forest. Relentlessly pursued by an army that officially does not exist, Mohammed must constantly confront the need to kill in order to survive.
The war thriller is an Irish/Polish/Norwegian/Hungarian co-production between Element Pictures (Garage, The Wind That Shakes The Barley), Skopia Film Production, Cylinder Productions and Mythberg Films with Andrew Lowe the executive producer for Element. The film has recently been selected for screening at both the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival next month.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Irish screenwriter does well in Intl. competition

I don't normally reprint press releases, but since it's about a writer...

Writer/Director Shane McCabe’s feature script Probable Cause, has been placed 3rd at the 24th Annual Write Movies International Writing Competition 2010. Selected from over a thousand internationally submitted scripts, Probable Cause is a whodunit thriller set off the Florida Keys. The festival organisers will now pitch the winning scripts to all the major studios, as well as many of the top production companies.

McCabe said, "I'm tremendously excited at being placed at such a prestigious competition as Write Movies International [it] validates a lot of hard work and shows that Irish screenwriters can find a voice in the international market place."

McCabe describes the feature as Rashomon meets The Usual Suspects, a high stakes crime/thriller in which the audience is given a revolving perspective of just who is the guilty party.

This success comes hot on the heels of McCabe’s feature, The Base, scooping top prize at the Back in the Box Screenwriting Competition 2009. The Base will go into production next year with Shane attached to direct. Previous to that his Latin-themed script, Next of Kin, received the “LSC Honourable Mention Award” at the 3rd Annual Latino Screenplay Competition 2008 and is currently being considered by Echo Lake Productions in the US, having attracted the attention of top Colombian actress Sofia Vergara.

A die-hard movie fan, Shane is passionate about Irish film and the Irish film industry. “I believe it is not necessary to have huge budget movies to have box office success, but compelling stories, stories which resonate with international audiences. As an industry we need to become more than just facilitators for US made films to create and sustain lasting jobs. I believe that we can crew, shoot and produce universally-themed films here in Ireland. To that end I have written a number of features, set in other parts of the world but which could be shot here.”

Shane was born in Dublin and graduated with a joint honours degree in economics and business studies from Trinity Collage Dublin. After working for several years in Germany, Shane returned home to study acting, enrolling in the Gaiety School of Acting, and has been involved as a writer/director in the industry for a number of years.

Working on Veronica Guerin inspired Shane to go on to write, direct and produce, and he has to date written six features and numerous shorts. In 2007 Shane wrote, produced and directed, Lucky Escape, a four-minute film, shot on location, using an all-Irish cast and crew in Rathfarnham, Dublin, but set in an upmarket New York City restaurant.

The film has screened at numerous festivals, including Academy Award® accredited festivals, Rhode Island 2007, LA Shorts Fest 2007, Palm Springs 2008, Cleveland 2009 and was picked up for distribution by Premium Films in France who sold it into all of Latin America and the Caribbean via the Latin American Discovery Channel. Shane has since signed a worldwide distribution deal with Network Ireland Television, who have sold it to NBC Universal, (Italy), HBO, (Central and Eastern Europe), top comedy website and recently to UK Broadcaster Channel 4.

Shane is currently developing a number of projects including a television series, and an interactive web series in addition to writing his next feature.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Funding Round Up

This is a round up of loan offers from the Irish Film Board over the last few months. I do seem to recall that the Board issued a notice to the effect that there would be no production decisions made in August. Perhaps I imagined it?

I think I have noticed an increase in recent rounds of individuals and companies receiving more than one funding offer in the same round? In my next post I will have a proper look at this area, and the perception in some quarters that Board members are somehow connected with an undue proportion of projects funded by the agency.

Round: 31st August 2010
Project Director(s) Writer(s) Prodn Co. Funding Award
First Draft Loans
Before Midnight Alan Brennan €12,000
Grooskill Mark O'Connor €12,000
Scumbot Ciaran Foy €12,000
Fiction Development Loans
Cycle Jamie Hannigan Samson Films €30,000
Mister John Christine Molloy & John Lawlor Christine Molloy & John Lawlor Samson Films €10,000
Cell Six Brendan Muldowney David Cairns, Brendan Muldowney & Brendan McCarthy Fantastic Films €10,000
Your Girlfriend & Me Brendan Grant Brendan Grant Unstoppable Entertainment €15,000
Jericho David Timmons David Timmons Fastnet Films €15,000
Gold Niall Heery Niall Heery & Brendan Heery Subotica Limited €10,500
Pilgrimage Jamie Hannigan Savage Production €18,000
Animation Development Loans
Cú: The Hound Of Ulla Paul Bolger Paul Bolger & Barry Devlin Pillarstone Productions €29,000
Zig & Zag Joel Simon Mick O'Hara & Conor Morrison Flickerpix Productions Provisional Offer of Commitment

Fiction Feature Films
Secret Scripture Justin Chadwick Johnny Ferguson Ferndale Films Provisional Offer of Commitment
Where We'll Never Grow Old Ivan Kavanagh Ivan Kavanagh & Colin Downey Ripple World Pictures €600,000
Standby Rob & Ronan Burke Pierce Ryan Black Sheep Productions €250,000
Lotus Eaters Alexandra McGuinness Alexandra McGuinness & Brendan Grant Fastnet Films €100,000
Grabbers Jon Wright Kevin Lenihan Samson Films Provisional Offer of Commitment
Dollhouse Kirsten Sheridan Kirsten Sheridan Warehouse Pictures €180,000
Run & Jump Steph Green Ailbhe Keogan Samson Films Provisional Offer of Commitment
Sanctuary Norah McGettigan Norah McGettigan & Gabriel Vargas Vasquez Venom Limited Provisional Offer Of Commitment
Fiction Creative Co-production
Flowers Of Desire Simo Staho Simo Staho Subotica Limited €300,000
Snake Dance Manu Riche Patrick Marnham West Park Pictures West €80,000
Moon Man Stephan Schesh Stephan Schesh Cartoon Saloon €300,000
Catching An Antelope Aisling Ahmed Crow Hill Films €5,000
Martin Hayes In Five Ways Art O'Briain Moving Still Productions €90,000
Art Will Save The World Niall McCann Happy Endings €90,000
I Was A Soldier: The Return Michael Grigsby West Park Pictures West €60,000
Land Vittoria Colonna Ripple World Pictures €15,000
Muerte & Me Ross McDonnell Fastnet Films €15,000
A Stranger In A Strange Land Pamela Drynam Subotica Limited Provisional Offer of Commitment
The Cause Of Progress Chris Kelly Zanzibar Films €15,000
The Summit Nick Ryan Image Now Films €160,000
For One Night Only David Blake Knox Parallel Film Productions €100,000
Showrunners Des Doyle Black Sheep Productions €10,000
Otunnu Anna Rodgers & Zlata Filipovic Crossing The Line Films €10,000
Completion Fund
Jimmy Murakami: Non Alien Sé Merry Doyle Loopline Films €15,000
Regional Support Fund
Stella Days Thaddeus O'Sullivan Antoine O'Flatharta Newgrange Pictures €120,000
Short Film Schemes
Umbra Alan Holly Alan Holly And Maps And Plans
Her To Fall Kris Kelly Kris Kelly Blacknorth
After You Damien O'Connor Damien O'Connor Cel Division
We, The Masses Eoghan Kidney Eoghan Kidney & Robyn O'Neill Still Films
Short Shorts
Riders To The Sea Orla Walsh Orla Walsh Dig Productions €15,000
Downpour Claire Dix Claire Dix Zucca Films €15,000
An Rinceoir Elaine Gallagher Elaine Gallagher Underground Films €15,000
And They Found Love In The Strangest Places Dylan Cotter Dylan Cotter Umbrella Productions €15,000
Origin James Stacey James Stacey Souljacker €15,000
Jonny Boy Laura Way Laura Way & Shirley Weir Stitch Films €15,000
Print Provision
One Hundred Mornings Conor Horgan Conor Horgan Blinder Films €30,000
Colony Ross McDonnell & Carter Gunn Fastnet Films €9,000

Round: 9th July 2010
Project Director(s) Writer(s) Prodn Co. Funding Award
First Draft Loans
The Trial Ursula Rani Sarma €12,000
Fiction Development Loans
Twelve Twenty Three Stuart Townsend Eoin McNamee Parallel Film Productions €22,500
Blinky & The War Machine Ruiari Robinson Ruairi Robinson Floodland Pictures €45,000
Killing Tom Ron Hutchinson Soho Moon Pictures €10,000
Harm's Way Cathal Black John Banville Nightingale Films €15,000
Julius Winsome Cathal Black Kathryn Jackson Nightingale Films €15,000
Reading In The Dark Tom Collins Ronan Bennett DeFacto Films €10,000
The Leviathan Ruairi Robinson Floodland Pictures €48,000
An Exact Replica Of A Figment Of My Imagination Lauren MacKenzie Newgrange Pictures €15,000
Animation Development Loans
Oops...Noah Is Gone! Mark Hodkinson & Richie Conroy Magma Films €10,000

Fiction Feature Films
Losing It Macdara Vallely Macdara Vallely Samson Films €235,000
Stella Days Thaddues O'Sullivan Antoine O'Flatharta Newgrange Pictures €600,000
The Runway Ian Power Ian Power Fastnet Films €65,000
The Truth Teller Malin Andersson Solas Productions €15,000
Making A Show Of Myself Conor Horgan Blinder Films €10,000
Evil 2 Amy Berg LeBrocquy Fraser Productions €10,000
Little Matador Sandra Jordan Element Pictures €30,000

9th June 2010
Project Director(s) Writer(s) Prodn Co. Funding Award
First Draft Loans
The Fourth McHenry Christian O'Reilly €12,000
Honoured Jasmina Kallay €12,000
Peacekeepers Jane Doolan €12,000
Clovis Teazle Andrew Legge Andrew Legge €12,000
The Islanders Pierce Ryan €12,000
Fiction Development Loans
Objects Of Interest Stephen Burke Stephen Burke Mammoth Films €20,000
6 HoursMichael Lavelle Michael Lavelle Samson Films €25,000
Future Fathers Conor Morrissey Conor Morrissey Happy Endings €10,000Easy Does It Marian Quinn Marian Quinn Janey Pictures €5,000
Julia Here Sonya Supple Gildea Sonya Supple Gildea Newgrange Pictures €12,000
Blackrock Lenny Abrahamson Malcolm Campbell Element Pictures €22,500Animation Development Loans
I'm A Monster Alistair McIlwain Richard Morss Monster Distribution €48,000
Fiction Feature Films
Good Vibrations Glenn Leyburn & Lisa Barros D'Sa Glenn Patterson & Colin Carberry Canderblinks Limited Provisional Offer Of Commitment
Gold Niall Heery Niall Heery & Brendan Heery Subotica Limited Provisional Offer of Commitment
The Straits Johnny Gogan Johnny Gogan & Joe O'Byrne Bandit Films €370,000
Fiction Creative Co-production
Istanbul Ferenc Torok Ferenc Torok Ripple World Pictures €178,000
Song Of The Sea Tomm Moore Tomm Moore & Will Collins Cartoon Saloon Provisional Offer Of Commitment
The Pipe Richie O'Donnell Underground Films €30,000
Doodle James Caddick Venom Limited €15,000
Nuala O'Faolain: A Life P. Farrelly & K. O'Callaghan Deer Lake Films Provisional Offer of Commitment
Completion Fund
The Liberties Shane Hogan & Tom Burke Areaman Productions €15,000
Stand Up: My Best Friend Maurice Linnane €10,000
Regional Support Fund
The Rafters John Carney John Carney CDS Limited €120,000
Print & Advertising
Trafficked Simon Hudson Simon Hudson Stoney Road Films €12,000
His & Hers Ken Wardrop Ken Wardrop Element Distribution €75,000
Savage Brendan Muldowney Brendan Muldowney Eclipse Distribution €20,000
Print Provision
His & Hers Ken Wardrop Ken Wardrop Venom Limited €2,062
Savage Brendan Muldowney Brendan Muldowney SP Film €55,000
The Herd Ken Wardrop Ken Wardrop Venom Limited €2,265