Friday 24 November 2017

Pinewood's Ireland boss says studio may open here

Pinewood Studios has long been associated with the James Bond franchise
Pinewood Studios has long been associated with the James Bond franchise

Paul O'Donoghue

The new head of the Irish arm of Pinewood Studios, one of the biggest names in the film industry, has said that the firm may look at opening an Irish studio in the next five years.

It was announced yesterday that Naoise Barry, the current Film Commissioner for the Irish Film Board, has been appointed head of production at Pinewood Productions Ireland.

Pinewood Studios, the iconic British studio behind the James Bond and Harry Potter franchises, announced the launch of an Irish operation in May. The company, to initially be manned just by Mr Barry, will offer services such as pre-production budgeting and location scouting.

Mr Barry is to take up his new position in the middle of August, leaving his current role at the Irish Film Board, where he has worked for the past 14 years, at the end of this week.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, he said that the new firm will first focus on persuading Pinewood's clients to film in Ireland.

Recent movies that have used Pinewood facilities include 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'.

"We are currently in talks with a number of our clients on selling them on filming here, the tax breaks available here for films are a big help," he said.

Since the start of the year Ireland now offers a tax credit programme worth up to 32pc of eligible Irish expenditure for film and television productions.

Mr Barry also said the firm will look to expand in the coming years if there proves to be sufficient demand, and would consider constructing a studio in Ireland.

"Pinewood is dipping its toe in the Irish market in establishing Pinewood Ireland," Mr Barry said.

"At the moment the company is effectively a startup but I have no doubt that as the firm begins to execute its strategy it will begin to expand to provide a wider range of services that could include a film studio, that's the hope.

"If you look at the Pinewood business model it is to provide production services but to also provide studio facilities and I think there is a possibility of Pinewood setting up a studio here in the medium term," he said, adding that the time period "might be about two to five years. It depends on demand."

He added: "It will take some time to see how the company performs and whether the international interest in Ireland converts into real-life business."

Meanwhile, there is still no update on the state of the proposed film studio in Limerick.

A spokesman for the council said that discussions in relation to the proposed studio are "progressing" but declined to give further detail.

The deal to develop a major film and television production hub with Ardmore Studios in Limerick's old Dell building was expected to be announced shortly after the local council bought the property for €5.5m in May.

Irish Independent

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