Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sunday Times article...

An article I've written will appear in the Sunday Times Irish edition tomorrow. It follows up on this earlier post here. You will have to buy the hard copy edition if you don't have a subscription to get you behind the pay-wall.

There was a lot more detail that space wouldn't allow so I may do a supplementary post here on some of the issues. If you see the article and want to comment on it you can use the 'reactions' button below.


Anonymous said...

Why can't you just post the article here instead of asking people to buy that rag?

irish film portal said...

Hmm, maybe I'll do that when you're prepared to pay for the content of this blog? In the meantime... they who pay the piper... etc.

That said, there's a lot of space pressure in hard-copy publishing a lot of background to the story had to be left out which I may put on here during the week.

Anonymous said...

While you're at it any chance of posting the recent Sunday Times' Top 100 Irish films list?

irish film portal said...

I didn't have anything to do with that nor did I see it, besides which, have you heard of copyright?

Anonymous said...

just cause the irish producer is on the board of the film board doesnt make it a sin, or that the post production company is owned by the chair of the irish film board or that the ceo of the time was in business with the director of this film, no 481 money was used or spent nor was the irish film board loan given or used so whats all the fuss?

irish film portal said...


However, we're left wondering about principles, process and perception - all of which matter hugely in the fair disbursement of public funding.

While the IFB €550,000 has not been released (although €300k of it may have been temporarily released at one point) the money does remain committed to the project. It is money that is not, for the time being, available to other projects. We could all name several Irish film projects that could have used this money over the last few years.

I unearthed more information during the week and put new questions to the Film Board on Thursday. The Film Board has yet to reply.

La Mula deserves the 'fuss' because it typifies the chasm that exists between policy rhetoric and actual funding practices. Even if, eventually, no Irish money goes into the film.

Bye Wonder said...

All this money to pay for crap, incestuous movies? What's the point? They don't return profit and are soon forgotten. This state-filmmaking subsidy has gone on long enough now. With current technologies Irish filmmakers should be making their own stuff without Government help. It's one bog scam. Throwing money around won't make better films!

irish film portal said...

Now that's just a pure blast of frustration, Bye Wonder.

Not all of the movies funded or part funded by the Irish public are 'crap' and not all of the movies funded by the Irish public are 'incestuous'. I can, however, see how that perception might exist. And yes, new technology now allows for high quality production value at relatively low cost.

We must also allow for film being a medium of expression as well as, very occasionally, a form of industrial production for profit. What is frustrating is when the films we fund fulfill neither of these objectives.

To this end, I believe, we should be concentrating public resources on storytelling skills behind the camera (writing and direction) - in training and in funding support for those writers and directors with proven expertise. Producers and production companies should, at most, be a secondary consideration.

A brilliant producer will get a film made from poor material with poor direction but the outcome, while it may be a production success, is unlikely to be a successful film.

Anonymous said...

New technology shouldn't be about 'high quality' production. That's where we are going wrong. It should be about making personal films using smaller crews and taking risks. The kind of stuff Irish Film Portal hates because there's little union involvement or work for the craft sector. There's too much emphasis in this country on 'telling stories'. That's why we make stuff closer to TV drama than real cinema.
Also, it's fulfil not fulfill.

irish film portal said...

Also, it's fulfil not fulfill - please forgive the unwarranted intrusion of a transatlantic spelling!

The point is actually about the lower cost of producing material of a high technical standard. It does not mean that the content will be better - no more than a better pencil makes for better writing. The handwriting may be better but the story may be awful, and badly spelt... or spelled, if you prefer.

I'm all for making personal films using smaller crews and taking risks, I don't know where you can have got the idea that I'm not.

As for this ..hates because there's little union involvement or work for the craft sector I don't think you can have read a lot of the criticism here of the industrial relations fiasco we have had for years. Put 'union' in the search box top left and see what turns up.

There's too much emphasis in this country on 'telling stories'. That's why we make stuff closer to TV drama than real cinema. I think I probably agree with what you mean by this - that there isn't a strong sense of visual story-telling in many of our films?

But film is a story-telling medium, if qualitatively different to TV, as poetry is to prose.

Anonymous said...

Has there been any investigation into the percentage of grants given to members of the film board over the last five years? Leaving the room while your fellow board members vote on your project is does not exempt you from a conflict of interest. Scratch my back and I wil do yours. This she stepped out I stepped in again is a redicilous excuse for transperancy. Having said that it is the cronisim that is indemic in today's Ireland. I think if you check the percentages and match the companies to the board members you will find one answer. Quango

irish film portal said...

I agree that the perception issues are glaring (actually over the last ten years) and perception is a matter which State Boards are expected to address in the relevant guidelines.

In general however, and unless there is proof to the contrary, we must accept the bona fides of all the people involved.

The Board should have made things far more transparent long ago, in my opinion.

For instance, there is an area of possible conflict which has never been cited in IFB annual reports - the indirect benefit of IFB production loan approvals to certain businesses and facilities with whom Board members have an association.

Then there are/were companies that seem a little like spin-off companies (from those with which Board members have a direct association) which have made a lot of successful loan applications - were conflicts of interest considered in those cases?

And what safeguards are there in place for staff members if they were to speak against approval for a Board member's project? And if a staff member has a direct or indirect association with persons or a company making an application how is that to be handled?

I believe that if Board members are to be allowed to benefit directly or indirectly from IFB funding then (i) that application process should be conducted entirely in writing from the outset; (ii) the total number of applications considered in every category in every round should be announced each month and the total number of Board member-related applications itemised, whether successful or unsuccessful; (iii) there should be a cap (max. and %)on the amount of funding with which each Board member has some association during their period in office; (iv) there should be a cap (max. and %) on the total amount of funding with which the Board members collectively have associations during their period in office.

In addition to the above I think it might be a good idea to cap the amount of funding availed of by producers/production companies in any consecutive three or five-year period.

Then we'd discover which among them are actually self-sustaining commercial enterprises and which of them are, really, quasi-autonomous unaccountable divisions of the public service with over-paid personnel and unjustifiable overheads.

Anonymous said...

If they want to give Board members funding then fair enough, that's the way Ireland works. I would have more of a problem that the feature films getting funded by the Board are mostly terrible. Also, because of our Film Board there is no-one here making feature films on a regular basis without State help.

irish film portal said...

Also, because of our Film Board there is no-one here making feature films on a regular basis without State help.

One can't blame the IFB for this. Many features not funded by the Film Board are being made each year but, financially, they're being made on a wing and a prayer.

There is no private/commercial 100% funding for film production in the country and therefore no living for those making films outside the state system.