Irish film production industry set for ‘record year’ despite Covid-19 pandemic

Screen Ireland chief says cinema and film distribution sectors have been less fortunate

Ireland’s film production industry is set to complete a ‘record year’ despite the constraints it has faced because of the Covid-19 pandemic, an Oireachtas committee has heard. Photograph: iStock

Ireland’s film production industry is set to complete a ‘record year’ despite the constraints it has faced because of the Covid-19 pandemic, an Oireachtas committee has heard. Photograph: iStock

 

Ireland’s film production industry is set to complete a “record year” despite the constraints it has faced because of the Covid-19 pandemic, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Susan Bergin, chair of Screen Ireland, said the industry has been “very resilient” and also lucky to receive continued support from the Department of Culture and the Arts.

She told told the Oireachtas arts and culture committee that “kudos” must also be given to people working in the sector who helped to ensure the industry could have a “record year”.

Screen Ireland chief executive Désirée Finnegan said the cinema and film distribution sectors had been less fortunate and would be a priority for the organisation going forward.

Ms Bergin said the organisation was aiming to promote the growth of the indigenous film industry, while also seeking to continue to attract international creators, which was “really important”. She added that these goals were not “mutually exclusive”.

Fast growing

Film production is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, Ms Bergin said, and Ireland hopes to take advantage of this.

The committee heard that Screen Ireland had recently established an office in Los Angeles to “help build” international relationships.

Ms Bergin said the Irish film industry also needed to be more accessible to people from a wider range of backgrounds and regions.

Irish film infrastructure has been “insufficient” until now, but new studio spaces under development, including the €150 million State-backed Greystones Media Campus, would help to entice large budget productions, said Ms Finnegan.

“Ireland is a very attractive place to film,” she said, noting the State’s unique landscapes and talented crews.

Tax offering

She also cited Ireland’s “very competitive” tax offering. Since 2015, a film tax credit has been available to film production companies looking to film in the State. The representatives told the committee that a lifting of the cap on these corporate tax breaks would increase Ireland’s competitiveness.

Ms Finnegan noted that large budget productions would often have to conduct their visual effect work and animation elements outside of Ireland due to the cap.

There are many financial incentives around the world that would pull film productions elsewhere, and the current caps make it “challenging” to keep entire projects inside Ireland, she said.