How do we pitch Ireland as a movie location to Hollywood?
Ireland is currently in the midst of a Hollywood renaissance. Our filmmakers received a record nine Academy Award nominations in 2016 with Ben Cleary winning best live action short for his film Stutterer, while Colin Farrell’s The Lobster and the Emma O'Donoghue/ Lenny Abrahamson collaboration Room won prestigious awards at Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival.
Mark Hamill introduced Irish crisps to a galaxy far, far away, much to the nation’s delight when Star Wars returned to Kerry to film Episode: VIII of the sci-fi blockbuster, cementing a tourism legacy in the region just as Game of Thrones did in Belfast.
Mel Gibson filmed his latest movie The Professor and The Madman in Ardmore Studios. Zoe Saldana, the female lead in James Cameron’s Avatar - the biggest grossing film of all time – has also been spotted ahead of filming Anders Walter’s fantasy drama I Kill Giants.
You can expect to see more and more Hollywood stars around Ireland thanks to tax exemptions introduced by the government last year - inspired by a meeting between the most unlikely trio of Daniel Day Lewis, Steven Spielberg and Enda Kenny in 2013.
These tax exemptions, known as Section 481, deliver up to 32 percent relief on eligible Irish expenditure, came into effect January 2015.
The Irish Film Board is so confident in the potential of these exemptions that they appointed an inward Production Manager to encourage foreign production companies to film in Ireland.
Steven Davenport took up the post earlier this year and will represent Ireland at the American Film Market, the largest International Film conference in the world this month where five billion dollars-worth of deals are expected to be done concluded.
According to the Irish Film Board the Irish film industry has a turnover of €500 million and employs approximately 6,000 domestically. With IFB films having grossed “over $150 million at the worldwide box office” In 2015/16.
The recent success of the Irish film industry is all the more remarkable considering the Irish Film Board’s annual capital funding budget for investment in film is approximately €11 million - a paltry sum by international standards.
So why is Ireland proving so popular with international filmmakers? According to the Irish Film Board today’s success is the result of “long-term investment”.
“Success at this level doesn’t happen overnight. We believe that long term investment from the Irish Film Board in talent - in Irish writers, directors and producers, has certainly contributed to this success," Louise Ryan, Marketing and Communications Manager of the Irish Film Board, told Independent.ie.
“Our experienced producers, award-winning crews, and beautiful regional and urban locations in close proximity to the airport all score highly with international producers.”
Ireland has become a major international co-producer of films with a string of hits including Room, Sing Street and smaller titles such as A Date for Made Mary all benefiting from a blend of indigenous and external funding and expertise.
According to Ms Ryan, "we use both successful Irish films and major international productions which have filmed on location in Ireland to entice further productions here.”
And enticing more productions to Ireland with a portfolio of successful indigenous, co-produced and international capital led films titles is exactly what Mr Davenport and the Irish Film Board are aiming to do this month at the American Film Market.
“Key to promoting Ireland as an international film and television (destination) is to ensure that international producers are aware of how experienced Irish producers and crew are," she said.
“Experienced cast and crew form a very important part of enticing international production to Ireland. Ireland has a strong reputation for award winning crews and Heads of Departments.”
Increased film production in Ireland allows many indigenous actors to stay at home rather than travelling for work and supplies aspiring thespians more opportunities to be cast as extras and read for international casting agents who may be looking for something different from their Irish counterparts.
“To have big film and television productions coming to Ireland is very much a positive thing, especially for Irish actors,” says Irish actor/musician Kieron O’Reilly best known for his role as Detective Ciaran Madden in RTE’s Love\Hate. “There are far more actors than roles out there and even with major productions in this country, it's still very competitive for actors trying to land roles.
What these major productions do for the Irish acting community is provide opportunity; opportunity to be seen by reputable casting agents, big directors and the potential to work on high-end productions with great cast and great crews.”
O’Reilly was recently cast in Mel Gibson’s The Professor and The Madman and hit television show, Vikings.
“The experience to date is really invaluable when trying to grow and develop as an actor.”
The increased interest in Ireland as a film destination does not simply extend to tax and locations as Hollywood insiders are also taking a look at what our indigenous talent has to offer.
Dallas Buyers Club, Producer Cassian Elwes picked up the North American rights to Irish film Midnight Man (2012) by Rob Kennedy and remade the movie with horror veteran Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Emily Haine (Fargo/Deadpool), in the starring roles making Midnight Man the first Irish feature film to be remade by the Hollywood studio system.
IFTA Rising Star award winning director Gerrard Barrett’s Brain on Fire recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIIF). The Sligo native’s third feature starring Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass), Richard Armitage (The Hobbit), and Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix). Is based on the memoir by Susannah Cahalan and tells the true story of how Cahalan (Moretz) a New York journalist descends into madness after experiencing severe amnesia and uncharacteristic violent episodes.
Other Film and television projects currently filming in Ireland include 'The Professor and the Madman’, 'The Lodgers', 'Vikings', and series two of AMC’s 'Into The Badlands' amongst others.