Fís Éireann/ Screen Ireland, the agency responsible for the development of the film, television and animation industry, today revealed their slate of over 40 productions coming to the international market this year, at a briefing held in Dublin today. The event was attended by a broad representation of creative talent from across the screen industries, as well as a wide range of industry stakeholders and media. The slate includes the first TV shows that Screen Ireland has supported, after funding for TV drama was announced last year. The agency also outlined their key priorities for the year.
BUILDING ON SUCCESS
Ireland’s screen industries have experienced unprecedented growth in the last decade, with its contribution to the economy* growing from €164 million in 2010 to €357 million in 2019, a remarkable increase in 10 years. The animation sector in particular has seen its annual production activity increased fourfold in the last 10 years, to €180 million in 2019. 2020 also promises to be a big year for animation with a number of features films set for release including a new feature film Wolfwalkers, from the Academy Award® winning studio Cartoon Saloon.
Commenting on the achievements over the past decade, Chair of Fís Éireann/ Screen Ireland, Dr Annie Doona, said; “Ireland’s screen production sector has more than doubled in the last decade and it continues to be a critical component of both our economy and our social fabric. Our indigenous industry is growing, and we are active participants in the global growth story with all the major streaming giants now amongst our production partners. The full restoration of Screen Ireland’s annual funding and the ongoing commitment to Section 481 Tax incentives are critical to this success and I look forward to working with the new Government to ensure that the industry is sufficiently equipped to meet our ambitious growth targets.”
Continued Government support for Section 481 and the recent streamlining of its application process by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Revenue, has improved the efficiency of the tax incentive scheme, ensuring that its contribution to the wider economy continues to perform and grow. Ireland is now the first country in Europe to have linked skills development to the qualification for the available film and TV tax credit in a progressive way, requiring producers to provide skills development programmes for talent of all levels on set.
INVESTING IN IRISH CREATIVE TALENT
Investing in creative screen talent and supporting Irish production companies remains a key priority for the agency in order to drive continued growth.
Chief Executive of Fís Éireann/ Screen Ireland, Désirée Finnegan, who took up the position in September 2019, said “Globally, the screen industry is transforming at an unprecedented rate and with the growth of streaming services in the market there is more demand than ever for quality content. This year, we plan to support Irish production companies with a particular focus on the development process and we’re pleased to announce that we will be investing in a fund to support slate development across feature film, animation and TV drama”.
The 2020 slate of productions features a number of high-end episodic TV drama productions, a new area of investment for Screen Ireland. In a bid to help build and support the TV drama sector, the agency aims to increase funding for TV drama in 2020 in collaboration with our Irish broadcast partners at home - RTÉ, TG4 and Virgin Media - and our international partners and platform.
PRODUCTIONS COMING TO SCREENS THIS YEAR
Screen Ireland funded productions coming to screens in 2020 feature a wide number of culturally relevant stories and exciting, entertaining projects. They include the highly anticipated TV series Normal People, the Lenny Abrahamson-directed adaptation of Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel of the same name, from Element Pictures and the South Westerlies from Deadpan Pictures. The global success story of the Irish animation industry continues in 2020 with Cartoon Saloon’s Wolfwalkers, an animated feature-length film from Oscar-nominated director Tomm Moore and Opps 2 Back in the Deep End set for release. Fresh from its fantastic reception at the Sundance Film Festival last weekend, feature film Herself starring Irish actor and screenwriter Clare Dunne is a redemptive story of the Irish housing crisis and domestic abuse. These human-led stories remain at the heart of Screen Ireland’s slate, with a range of documentary touching on issues relevant to Irish audiences – from The 8th to Songs From While I’m Away, the first feature-length documentary about Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott.
In 2019, 37% of all projects across film, TV drama, documentary, animation and shorts produced with funding from Screen Ireland had female directors attached to them and 43% of all projects funded had female writers attached. While full gender equality is yet to be achieved, the figures represent a consistent improvement up from 10% and 27% respectively in 2015, when Screen Ireland first announced its six-point plan on gender equality.
DRIVING REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT
The development of the film and television production activity and jobs across regional Ireland is also a key driver for Screen Ireland. Many of the film and TV productions in Screen Ireland’s 2020 slate were produced or filmed on location in regional areas, including, amongst others: animated feature film Ooops! Back In The Deep End which is produced in Galway; Wild Mountain Thyme, filmed in Mayo; The Winter Lake, filmed in Sligo and Leitrim; and Death of a Ladies’ Man, filmed in Galway.
International productions filming in Ireland include Foundation, an Apple Original drama series that chronicles the epic saga of The Foundation, a band of exiles who discover that the only way to save the Galactic Empire from destruction is to defy it. The series is based on Isaac Asimov’s novel series of the same name.
The series is the largest production ever to film on location in Ireland, creating over 500 production jobs. Several training initiatives are underway for new entrants into the industry in the Limerick region, with over 40 skills development participants on the show. Irish talent is represented across the production, including award winning costume designer Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh, who leads a large costume department.
Valhalla, a Netflix production, is also set to film in Ashford Studios in Wicklow.
Following the trade mission to Los Angeles with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD last year, Screen Ireland has focused on the need to develop further studio infrastructure to drive inward production activity. The agency welcomes the recent expansions of Ardmore & Troy Studios and further plans for Ashford, with other opportunities also being explored. To strengthen our relationships in the US, as previously announced will be appointing a representative based in Los Angeles later this year.