Film industry the star turn of an economic drama

LAST year was a record year for the film and television industry here, as it contributed almost €171 million to the exchequer.

The Audiovisual Federation, the IBEC group that represents the feature film, television and animation sectors, said the industry provided 1,695 full-time jobs last year.

At the launch of its 2011 review of film and television production in Ireland, the federation said that 261 productions were completed here last year, with a total production value of €387.9m — an increase of €144.6m on 2009 and almost €21m more than expected.

Feature films, along with independent television and major television drama, production recorded an increase near 100% from €185.7m in 2009 to €358.2m last year.

Although the total production value for animation dropped, the group pointed to a number of significant projects in production which will appear in next year’s report.

Major films made in Ireland last year included Steven Soderberg’s Haywire; Albert Nobbs, starring Glenn Close; and This Must Be The Place with Sean Penn.

Some of the television dramas produced here include Single-Handed, Operation Transformation and Ros na Rún.

Kevin Moriarty, chairman of the Audiovisual Federation, said government support through incentives under Section 481, the film tax relief scheme, were essential in order to maintain strong growth in the industry.

“The ability of the industry to maintain this level of activity, despite economic circumstances, has been made possible by the decision of the Government to provide the necessary amendments to the Section 481 film tax relief scheme in the Finance Act 2009 to restore competitiveness,” he said.

“Government support, through Section 481 and the Irish Film Board, continues to be essential.”

Mr Moriarty said the figures were “a good news story” in an increasingly difficult period for the country in terms of the economy.

Last year, some 20% of tourists who came to Ireland cited film as a reason for visiting Ireland, compared to 10% in 2006, indicating the potential for film to boost tourism.

A report, called Creative Capital, prepared for Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, has suggested recommendations for growth over a five-year period, doubling the value of the Irish film and television industry to over €1 billion and increasing direct employment in the industry for more than 10,000 people.

Mr Moriarty said that the further potential for growth in the industry, as well as the current “exceptional” employment figures, were “evidence of an industry that has supported employment in spite of the sharp economic downturn”.

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