In film-making, planning foresight is an essential element of the painstaking process between conception and production, writes John Daly.

With a feature film often a five-year turnaround from studio drawing board to film festival premiere, industry stability and confidence have always been integral to the process.

Thus the Budget 2019 decision to extend the section 481 tax relief to 2024, allied to the introduction of a regional uplift of 5%, was applauded by the industry.

Screen Ireland, the national development agency for the film, television, and animation industry, welcomed the €2m increase to its capital budget, representing a 14% overall improvement, bringing its capital budget to €16.2m for 2019.

The department has also allocated €3.84m to the Screen Ireland administration and training budget. The incentives will support the Audiovisual Action Plan, the Government’s long-term vision to enable Ireland to become a global hub for the creative screen industries.

Given that 2018 has been a particularly successful year to date, the continued State support signposts a healthy future for the industry.

Section 481 has long been seen as an essential for the sustainability of the sector, and the extension to 2024 will provide an assurance and reliability for major studios and independent producers to safely plan their operational schedules well into the next decade.

According to the recent economic assessment carried out by international consultants Olsberg SPI on behalf of the Government, Ireland’s film, television, and animation sector supports over 11,960 full-time equivalents, yielding €234m in taxes to the economy, contributing €692m in gross added value, and generating €184m in export earnings.

The report concluded that the sector could, over a period of five years, double employment to over 24,000, with a gross value added of nearly €1.4bn.

Budget 2019 also sees RTÉ receive additional annual funding of €8.6m through restoration of the television licence fund benefit. The increase in funding is largely due to the free television licence fee paid by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to the Department of Communications, a cap which has been raised by €5m.

Free television licences are received by roughly 430,000 households as part of the household benefits package, mainly attributed to the older demographic. The increase comes in the wake of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s recommendation that RTÉ and TG4 receive a €30m and €6m increase in annual funding, respectively.

The success of the creative screen industries continues to garner international plaudits with Nora Twomey’s animated feature, The Breadwinner, having led nominations for Irish talent at the 2018 Academy Awards, alongside Saoirse Ronan, Consolata Boyle, Martin McDonagh, and Daniel Day-Lewis.

Carmel Winters’ Float Like a Butterfly won the Discovery Programme at the Toronto Film Festival, while Emer Reynolds’ debut feature documentary, The Farthest, took home an Emmy for Outstanding Science and Technology Documentary.

Last month, Lance Daly’s Irish Famine drama, Black 47, crossed the €1m mark at the Irish box office, making it the highest-grossing Irish film for 2018. It joins the ranks of hugely popular Irish films such as The Wind that Shakes the Barley, The Guard, and Michael Collins.

Much of the industry’s focus will this week turn to Ireland Week, which returns to Los Angeles following last year’s successful debut. The nine-day event, running until November 4, will showcase the best of Irish music, theatre, art, sport, animation, film, and television.

This year’s flagship conference is being hosted at Loyola Marymount University’s new Playa Vista School of Film & Television campus. Conference topics will include Location Ireland — the growth of TV and film production and the effect on tourism and the Irish economy; and challenges facing Irish companies and executives navigating the US market.


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