Irish film and television industry enjoys 'remarkable year' as investment soars
Record levels of foreign direct investment went into Irish Film Board (IFB) productions in 2012, it has been announced.
Some €118 million was invested in Irish film and television projects during the year by foreign sources.
Turnover in the sector was up by 30 per cent on the previous year, buoyed by the production of 19 feature films in Ireland and heavy investment in overseas television series such as Vikings and Ripper Street.
Investment in Irish film and television, as opposed to projects that are just filmed here, was up by 20 per cent on last year.
IFB chief executive James Hickey described 2012 as a “remarkable” year for the audiovisual industry.
Bucking the trend
The industry has bucked the trend in Ireland since the recession started. The sector now employs the equivalent of 6,500 people in comparison with 5,000 in 2008.
Although there were few homegrown box-office hits at the cinema, with the exception of What Richard Did, Irish films picked up a slew of awards and had screenings at major film festivals, with three alone at Sundance.
Mr Hickey said films had a much longer life now with DVDs, Netflix and television providing an outlet for productions that might have been missed in the cinema.
The Irish box office was a “very small part of where Irish films go to. Some films might not be a success at the box office but they may be a big success on DVD or online,” he said.
The IFB is in talks with RTÉ to increase the promotion of Irish films.
Some 11 Irish-made feature films and eight co-productions are due to be released next year.
The IFB will hope that Calvary, John Michael McDonagh’s new film, can surpass the €4 million taken at the Irish box office by The Guard.
The film adaptation of John Banville’s Man Booker-winning novel The Sea, starring Ciarán Hinds, will also be released next year, while Joe O’Connor’s adaptation of Star of the Sea will go into production.
The regional spread of Irish films will also be more pronounced, with The Hardy Bucks set in Co Mayo, Black Ice set in Co Leitrim and Pilgrim Hill set in Co Kerry.
In addition, television series filmed in Ireland for foreign broadcasters including Quirke, Ripper Street and Vikings will be aired next year.
The IFB has also announced a European TV trade mission to Dublin in March next year, as part of the film board’s EU presidency programme.
Films in the pipeline
What Richard Did: The most commercially successful Irish film at the box office this year. It took €165,625 in its first two weeks and there are high hopes for it when it opens in the UK next month.
Ripper Street: The €8 million drama is set in the East End streets of London at the time of Jack the Ripper but was filmed in Clancy Quay, Dublin. The series starts on BBC on December 30th.
The Stag: Ireland’s answer to The Hangover is about the shenanigans of a group of friends that takes place on a stag weekend in the west of Ireland. It will be released late next year.
Calvary: Director John Michael McDonagh’s follow up to the Irish box office sensation The Guard also stars Brendan Gleeson, this time as a good priest in a bad place.
Last Days on Mars: Irish director Ruairi Robinson’s debut film is a sci-fi thriller set during a mission to Mars. An Irish-British co-production, it was filmed in the UK and in Jordan and has a budget of between €5 million and €10 million.
The Hardy Bucks Movie: The film version of the TV cult series starring small-town Mayo slackers is set during the European Championships in Poland last year.