Saturday 7 December 2019

Students reach for the sky as the hunt is on for film and TV jobs

Programmes produced in Ireland, such as Moone Boy, have created more opportunities for skilled graduates.

Chris O’Dowd and Chris Rawle in Moone Boy.
Chris O’Dowd and Chris Rawle in Moone Boy.
Donald Taylor Black, creative director of the IADT film school in Dun Laoghaire.
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

JOB opportunities for trained graduates in the film and TV industries are improving as a growing number of films and programmes are made in Ireland.

Those hoping for a career in the audiovisual industry used to find work through an uncertain and haphazard process.

Now, according to Donald Taylor Black, director of the National Film School at IADT, Dun Laoghaire, training has become more formalised. TV companies are looking for trained staff to work on big productions such as 'The Vikings', which is shot in Wicklow, and RTE's show 'The Voice'.

The film and broadcasting industry was traditionally regarded as an interesting place to work with few opportunities in Ireland. Now that is changing. In some areas there is a shortage of skills.

According to the most recent figures, the sector is growing at a steady pace and has done relatively well in the recession.

More than 6,000 people are working in the Irish audiovisual industry, according to industry figures, and many thousands more are employed indirectly.

The sector is believed to have grown by 18pc last year.

"There are more job opportunities now, particularly among those with specialist skills in areas such as sound, cinematography and editing," says Donald Taylor Black.

"While TV stations such as RTE are trimming their staff, there are more freelance jobs. Ireland has also become a popular place to shoot TV dramas."

Many of those hoping to work in the industry train in IADT. The third level college offers degrees in film and TV production, animation, and MA programmes in screenwriting and broadcast production.

The faculty of film has just received a boost with the announcement that Sky is to sponsor a scholarship on the MA course in Broadcast Production.

As well as paying fees of €6,000 a year, the scholarship scheme will enable the student to get a paid placement in TV and receive mentoring from senior Sky staff at the station's headquarters in Osterly in England.

In IADT's MA course in broadcasting, students learn about studio production techniques, scriptwriting, camera operation, sound recording, presenting, directing and editing. There are lectures from key figures in the industry including Larry Bass, producer of 'The Voice' and the former Managing Director of RTE Radio, Clare Duignan.

Sky is just one of the companies that is now pouring money into productions here.

Mark Deering, director of Sky Ireland, says: "Sky is committed to spending €700m on homegrown productions, and a lot of that will be spent in Ireland."

Among its Irish productions is 50 ways to Kill your Mammy, a show where presenter Baz Ashmawy sets his mother Nancy a series of adventurous tasks across the world.

Sky has shot three series of the Chris O'Dowd comedy Moone Boy in Roscommon, Wicklow and Dublin. Other programmes such as Moonfleet and Penny Dreadful have also been made here.

Deering says: "We now have quality professionals in the field here. Education is key to attracting productions to Ireland, and the opening of a new TV studio in IADT last November is a crucial element of that."

HD television programmes can be made and virtual reality sets can be built at IADT's state-of-the-art studio, which is being used to train students. The facility will also be hired out to private film companies over the summer. Deering says: "The more professionals who are produced through these IADT courses, who then gain on-the-ground experience, the better."

Donald Taylor Black says the training of those who work in film and broadcasting has changed dramatically since he started out in the industry.

"Many of those who went into the industry started out doing arts degrees," he says "Neil Jordan started off as a novelist while Jim Sheridan came up through theatre. There were no real opportunities to study film. "In broadcasting, RTE and the BBC used to be the gatekeepers, and had their own in-house training, but now there are many small independent production companies.

"In our film courses we used to turn out a lot of directors, but that is probably the most difficult area in which to find work. Now we encourage those studying film or broadcasting to specialise in something like sound or cinematography.

"If you are very good at something like sound or editing when you leave, you are much more likely to find a job. Then you can perhaps go on to become a director."

One of the biggest areas of growth in the industry has been in animation, with Irish studios producing material for apps and games as well as TV and film. Up to 1,000 people are thought to work in animation in Ireland.

"The animation industry has never been stronger," Black adds. "A few years ago almost all our graduates would have had to emigrate, but now they are in strong demand."

  • Applications for the MA in broadcast productions at IADT are open until May 9. Students apply separately for the Sky scholarship. More information: IADT.IE.


Skills studio for children to launch soon in Dublin

Sky is to open an Academy Skills studio in Dublin to give students of school age the chance to make their own TV programmes.

It follows the success of a similar studio in London, which has been used by 14,000 young people since opening in 2012. The students are aged between eight and 18.

Those taking part in Sky's programme will film a TV news report on subjects they are studying on the curriculum.

Schools can choose from a range of topics across five subject areas: maths, English, science, citizenship and PE.

Sky has not yet given a date for the opening of its Dublin skills studio, but it is expected to be soon.


Whiteboard Jungle

The teachers' conferences were again a PR disaster for teachers, and perhaps even worse for Minister Ruairi Quinn.

Inevitably the legitimate concerns of teachers, particularly about Junior cycle reforms, were drowned out by heckling.

Mr Quinn himself seemed to shoot himself in the foot with remarks about a "highly feminised profession".

The only thing that could be said for Quinn was that at least he appeared – unlike Alan Shatter who steered clear of the conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.

Watching hapless Quinn being barracked, one was reminded of a remark by the English rugby captain John Pullin, who brought his team to Dublin at the height of the Troubles.

He said: "We may not be any good, but at least we turn up."

Irish Independent

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