Film Board says ‘Star Wars’ Skellig shoot ‘confidential’

The Irish Film Board has broken its silence around the upcoming Star Wars shoot on Skellig Michael by saying it must adhere to confidentiality demands from producers.

James Hickey, the chief executive of the Irish Film Board, said its policy in assisting local and international producers who shoot here was similar to other film agencies around the world who operate on the same basis.

The IFB had come in for criticism from heritage group An Taisce, among others, ahead of a week-long shoot expected to take place on Skellig Michael next month.

Mr Hickey did not refer explicitly to Star Wars but said: “The producers expect that any of our dealings with them are kept confidential until they are ready to make the announcements they want to make in relation to their projects. The only basis on which they will share their plans with us is where there is trust that the IFB will not reveal the plans to third parties, including the media. If we were to reveal such plans without the permission of the producers, no producer would trust us with their plans. We would not then be able to help these producers to locate their productions in Ireland.”

But Ian Lumley of An Taisce said while film producers were understandably “paranoid” about issues such as photographic leaks from film sets, the Skellig shoot was a “completely different situation” given the island’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status and the uniqueness of its wildlife.

He said there was uncertainty over whether requirements under the EU Habitats Directive had been met as part of the proposed shoot on Skellig Michael.

“It may have been adhered to but why has no information been made available that it has been done?,” he asked.

Separately, Skellig boat- men said An Taisce’s assertion that the shoot could risk introducing rats to Skellig Michael was nonsensical.

The eagerly-awaited first film in the rebooted Star Wars series, The Force Awakens, is due for release this December.

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