Ireland's movie makers thrive in recession
THE success of 'The Tudors' and 'The Secret of Kells' has been central to a record year for the Irish film and TV industry.
While the rest of the economy has taken a battering, Ireland's production companies have been thriving.
The country's well-established film facilities, experienced crew members and tax breaks have helped create a new boom in film production, industry leaders said yesterday.
And this success has been reflected in international awards -- this year alone Ireland picked up one Oscar and two Emmys.
The 'Secret of Kells' was held up as a prime example of the success that comes through a combination of international finance and Irish talent. The animated full length film, which is due to be aired on RTE One at 1.40pm on Christmas Day, tells the fictionalised story of the creation of the 'Book of Kells'.
It was nominated for an Oscar this year and took home the Best European Feature at the British Animation Awards.
The importance of these productions to the economy was stressed with the release yesterday of the 2010 annual review by the Audiovisual Federation of employers group IBEC. It's made up of broadcasters, producers, studios and film makers.
A total of 257 independent productions were made in Ireland in 2009, giving work to 17,000 people. This year an estimated €367m has been spent on film and TV projects, a massive 50pc jump on the amount spent in 2009.
More than half of the total amount (€206m) was brought in by TV productions, such as the major US-financed drama 'Camelot' which stars Joseph Fiennes and is due to hit screens in America in the spring.
But Hollywood films are also being attracted to Ireland -- actress Glenn Close is currently on set in Dublin filming 'The Singular Life' of Albert Nobbs. In it she plays a woman who disguises herself as a male butler in a posh Dublin hotel in order to survive in 19th century Ireland.
Many major projects, such as 'Braveheart' and 'The Tudors' have been made in Ardmore Studios, Co Wicklow. Its managing director Kevin Moriarty said the film industry has always bucked the trend during hard times.
"I'm not saying its recession-proof but there is a greater demand for entertainment. If you go back to the depression years of the 1930s, that was the time you had queues going around the blocks in the States.
"People look for escapism, people look for ways to get away from their everyday issues and they go to cinemas," he said.
But the good news comes amid warnings that unless the Government provides reassurance to international investors that Ireland's 'Section 481' film and TV tax breaks will continue, the country could loose out on major US productions.
Mr Moriarty has urged the Department of Finance to keep the measures in place.