Adrian Dunbar to judge Virgin Media short film competition

Winning entry will have its work made and shown on television

‘Blood’ and ‘Line of Duty’ actor Adrian Dunbar will be a judge in the new Virgin Media Discovers scheme for upcoming film talent. Photograph: Brian McEvoy

‘Blood’ and ‘Line of Duty’ actor Adrian Dunbar will be a judge in the new Virgin Media Discovers scheme for upcoming film talent. Photograph: Brian McEvoy


Line of Duty actor Adrian Dunbar will lead a judging panel on a new short film competition launched by Virgin Media Ireland.

Filmmakers are invited to submit scripts by July 26th for a proposed 10-minute film, with the winning entry receiving a budget of €35,000 and the support of a production crew to make their film.

The winning film will then be shown at the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival (VMDIFF) and on Virgin Media Television next year.

“The hardest thing for people up and coming is to get exposure to a large audience,” said Tony Hanway, managing director of Virgin Media Ireland.

Mr Hanway said the Virgin Media Discovers scheme was “a little bit outside what we normally do”, but “an area where we see potential for us to do more”.

The telecoms and broadcasting group began its sponsorship of the Dublin film festival this year and believes there is an opportunity to grow it.

Alongside Mr Dunbar, the star of Virgin Media drama Blood, the judging panel comprises film and television director Neasa Hardiman, VMDIFF director Grainne Humphreys, Virgin Media Television director of content Bill Malone and Birch Hamilton, chief executive of the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland (SDGI).

Mr Hanway said Virgin Media Television, previously known as TV3 Group, had “a good pipeline of drama coming through” in the year ahead.

“It’s impossible to say there’s enough funding. There’s always demand for more,” Mr Hanway said, when asked whether he agreed with the SDGI’s call for the creation of a new public fund for Irish television drama series.

Virgin Media has learned through the €4 million series Blood that it can make high-end drama series if it has international partners - in this case, All3Media, a content producer and distributor that is 50 per cent owned by Virgin’s parent Liberty Global.

International business

“The only way it can be done is through co-partnering. It’s too risky otherwise. There’s too much to put upfront,” Mr Hanway said.

Mr Dunbar said it was “great to see Virgin Media playing a leading role supporting creative work”.

“We’re looking for innovative, fearless filmmakers to submit clever and thought-provoking scripts,” he said.

A shortlist will be made at the start of August, with the winning entry set to go into production in September.

“Our industry has become increasingly global, and there’s plenty of opportunity for Irish film makers to find an international platform for their work, if we support them in their early endeavours,” said Ms Hardiman, who most recently directed two episodes of Netflix series Jessica Jones and will shortly release her debut feature film, Sea Fever.