Action! Ireland in the frame to become global film, TV and media 'Force'
Arts Minister Heather Humphreys has vowed to put Ireland in the frame and target lucrative investment from the film and TV industry.
She said that the filming of the 'Star Wars' film 'The Force Awakens' on Skellig Michael is an example of the massive economic spin-off potential of the film industry here which has led to people "flocking to the south-west".
Speaking to the Irish Independent after meeting a cross-section of representatives from the film and media production sectors yesterday, the minister said that she was more determined than ever to "develop Ireland as a centre of excellence in media production".
She met with more than 150 of the movers and shakers in the film, television and animation sectors - including film maker Jim Sheridan and award-winning producer Ed Guiney - to "focus on building Ireland's potential as a global leader in film, production, TV and radio drama, documentary and animation".
"The very clear message I'm getting is there are 15,000 jobs in the audio visual sector. We need to look at the international market and promote the industry abroad, which is something I'm very keen on," she said.
A number of Hollywood blockbusters have "put Ireland on the map" after being filmed on location here.
They include Steven Spielberg's 1998 war epic 'Saving Private Ryan', starring Tom Hanks, which was filmed on Curracloe Beach in Co Wexford, and has been drawing tourists to the popular spot ever since.
The 1951 film 'The Quiet Man', starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, was ironically dismissed by a "snooty studio" executive in the US but took in $3.8m (€3.4m) in the first year alone.
Mel Gibson's Oscar-winning 'Braveheart' was also filmed on location at Trim Castle, in Co Meath, and the Curragh, in Co Kildare. The internationally successful 'Vikings' is continuing filming in Wicklow.
And Ireland's burgeoning animation industry is already gaining international recognition with Cartoon Saloon's 'Song of the Sea' nominated for an Oscar in 2015, along with Brown Bag Films' 'Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty' in 2010.
Ms Humphreys said that the outcome of the meeting at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham with the likes of the Irish Film Board, RTÉ, Animation Ireland and Screen Producers Ireland, would form the starting point for ongoing collaborations with the industry. It is hoped that this will in turn see Ireland developed and promoted as a world-leading media production hub.
James Hickey, chief executive of the Irish Film Board, said there were huge opportunities for creative talent. He added: "Irish storytelling in film and animation is as important to the lifeblood of Ireland as any of Ireland's other cultural and economic endeavours."