Tuesday, February 28, 2012

And the Oscar goes to....

...father and daughter team, Terry and Oorlagh George for The Shore!!

Well done to all involved. I last put this picture up nearly a year ago when Terry George was reportedly embarking on a Northern Ireland-set feature, Whole Lotta Sole - hapless gambler Martin McCann falls foul of mobster Brendan Fraser (yes, that Brendan Fraser). Other cast includes Colm Meaney, Yaya Dacosta and David O'Hara.

Haven't heard much about it since but presume it's in the offing for the coming festival season.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The devil is in the detail...

The driving seat was handed to Minister Deenihan yesterday for a good news announcement about a third UK TV series coming to shoot in Ireland in the near future.

Prominence is duly given to the fact that the three series - Vexed, Ripper Street, and now Loving Miss Hatto - will spend €13 million in the Irish economy (respectively €3m, €8m and €2m).

Mention is made that each project is being supported by the Irish Film Board although we are not told the amount of the production loan in each case. Nor has the Film Board published its decision to fund each of these projects, although it has taken the time to reconfigure its website.

One must presume also that the three projects are going to avail of Section 481 financing because the announcement does not refer to this additional public support.

On my reckoning the Section 481 cost for these three projects will come to approximately €5.3 million in tax relief. I can only surmise that the Film Board has stumped up, say, a further €900,000 in production loans.

This would bring the total value of the incentives to €6.2 million, or 47% of the total Irish spend, leaving a net contribution to the Irish economy of €6.8 million.

The ratio of public incentive to incoming investment, if these figures are correct, would seem to be as low as €1.00 to €1.10.

We will have to assume that the measurable return on Irish rights in these projects, together with the measurable VAT and income tax return on goods and services they utilise, make this a wise investment on the part of the State.

Of course all of this is conjecture on my part because we have been spared the detail of the amount of public support being committed to these projects.

Why aren't we given this information as a matter of course?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Action Plan For Jobs - Film?

The government has published its action plan for jobs today. I suspected there might be some mention of film, given the intensifying culture=jobs discourse of the last few years.

Towards the back of the annex that sets out Department and Agency responsibility for job creation you will find the following -

Nothing new here, if you've read the Creative Capital report which I had a bit of a go at some months back.

If the intention is to grow cultural exports in this area, what is the base level from which growth will be calculated?

I have seen no figures for the annual value of Irish film and television exports. The usual annual level of recoupment of Film Board loans would suggest that export earnings are minimal.

The figure for additional, non-voted IFB income in 2012 is projected to be €500,000 which, I presume, is the total expected recoupment/share of income in 2012 from all IFB production investments over the last twenty years.

As for the two other proposals, they read like a collection of buzz words and don't strike me as being particularly relevant to the Film Board's remit. Perhaps I'm wrong?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Finance Act - Section 481

Some changes to the operation of Section 481 are buried in today's Finance Act - looks like a fair bit of tightening up on reporting and compliance. I wonder what triggered the Revenue's concern?

23.—The Principal Act is amended in section 481—
(a) in subsection (1) by inserting the following definition after the definition of ‘‘authorised officer’’: ‘‘ ‘director’ shall be construed in accordance with section 433(4);’’,
(b) in subsection (1), in the definition of ‘‘relevant investment’’, by substituting ‘‘qualifying company,’’ for ‘‘qualifying company.’’,
(c) in subsection (1) by inserting the following definition after the definition of ‘‘relevant investment’’: ‘‘ ‘specified relevant person’ means any director or secretary of the qualifying company.’’,
(d) in subsection (2A)(g)(v) by substituting ‘‘subsection (2CA)’’ for ‘‘subsection (2C)(ba)’’,
(e) in subsection (2C)(b) by substituting ‘‘subject to subsection (2CA),’’ for ‘‘subject to paragraph (ba),’’,
(f) in subsection (2C) by deleting paragraph (ba),
(g) in subsection (2C) by deleting ‘‘and’’ before paragraph (d),
(h) in subsection (2C)(d) by substituting ‘‘fulfilled,’’ for ‘‘fulfilled.’’,
(i) in subsection (2C) by inserting the following after paragraph (d): ‘‘and (e) if any sum representing— (i) a repayment of a relevant investment, or (ii) an amount in connection with a relevant investment, out of the proceeds of exploiting the film — is paid to an allowable investor company or qualifying individual, as the case may be, before the Revenue Commissioners have notified the company in writing that a compliance report, as referred to in paragraph (d)(iii), has been received by them.’’,
(j) by inserting the following after subsection (2C): ‘‘(2CA) (a) Paragraph (b) of subsection (2C) shall not apply to financial arrangements in relation to a transaction, or series of transactions, where such arrangements have been approved by the Revenue Commissioners. (b) The Revenue Commissioners shall not approve financial arrangements, to which paragraph (b) of subsection (2C) would, but for this subsection, apply unless: (i) the arrangements relate to either or both—(I) an investment made in a qualifying film, and (II) the filming of part of a film in a territory other than a territory 5 referred to in clause (I) or (II) of subsection (2C)(b)(i), (ii) a request for approval is made by the qualifying company to the Revenue Commissioners before such arrangements are effected, (iii) the qualifying company demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Revenue Commissioners that it can provide, if requested, sufficient 15 records to enable the Revenue Commissioners to verify—(I) in the case of an investment, the amount of the investment made in the qualifying company and the person who made the investment, and (II) in the case of filming in a territory,the amount of each item of expenditure on the production of the qualifying film expended in the territory, whether expended by the qualifying company or by any other person, and (iv) they are satisfied that it is appropriate to grant such approval. (c) In considering whether to grant an approval under this subsection in relation to financial arrangements, the Revenue Commissioners may seek any information they consider appropriate in relation to the arrangements or in relation to any person who is, directly or indirectly, a party to the arrangements. (d) Where the Revenue Commissioners have approved financial arrangements in accordance with this subsection, no amount of money expended, either directly or indirectly, as part of the arrangements may be regarded, for the purposes of subsection (2A)(g)(iv), as an amount of money expended on either the employment of eligible individuals or on the provision of goods, services and facilities as referred to in that subsection.’’,
(k) in subsection (2E)(m) by substituting ‘‘subsection (2CA)’’ for ‘‘subsection (2C)(ba)’’, and (l) by inserting the following after subsection (2E): ‘‘(2F) Where a qualifying company fails to provide to the Revenue Commissioners a compliance report as 5 referred to in subsection (2C)(d)(iii), within the time provided for in regulations made under subsection (2E)(h), the specified relevant person shall provide such compliance report to the Revenue Commissioners within 2 months after that time.’’.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spreading the word...

Just caught up with an article We Are All Scabs: Some Contradictions in U.S. Independent Film Culture by Donal Foreman in 'The Brooklyn Rail'

This excerpt rings especially true of film conferences and industry events everywhere -
Out of over 100 panelists speaking at the Filmmaker Conference, it was striking how few were filmmakers and how many were agents, publicists, distributors, and festival programmers—reminding me of the quip that the most lucrative consumer base in the indie film world is indie filmmakers. The impression was that the New World hadn’t made these roles redundant so much as forced their renegotiation. Several of this year’s distributor-panelists stated that they weren’t interested in acquiring a film unless its makers had already “built” their audience and achieved a powerful social media presence, effectively offloading a layer of their marketing duties as a positive externality.

It is useful to reflect on this given the €1.8 billion that the EC is going to pour into its new Culture and MEDIA programmes - intended to support the exploitation of culture rather than the people who originate it.