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Creative Europe - Single Project Development Spotlight: EZ Films
11 Jun 2020 : Nathan Griffin
EZ Films' Piece
In the third of a series of interviews, we spoke with producer Ciaran Deeney of EZ Films, one of four selected Irish beneficiaries of Creative Europe’s latest Single Project Development funding round, to give our readers some insight into the selected Irish companies and their projects, as well as, the merits of the schemes and some tips on the application process and how best to formulate a successful pitch.

EZ Films is a Dublin-based, creative-led production company set up by Dave Clarke and Ciarán Deeney in 2007. Their work covers a wide range of projects from innovative history documentaries like Man on Bridge (RTÉ) to gritty feature documentaries like IFTA-winning Mattress Men (Screen Ireland/SVT/VGTV), through to exciting multi-platform television formats such as Blasta (TG4/BAI).

One of their most recent productions, National Treasures in partnership with RTÉ and the National Museum of Ireland, was selected as a Finalist for C21’s International Format Awards. The multi-platform format has since been optioned in over 20 territories around the world. Other original formats include Blasta (Revealing Recipes), Pioc do Ride (Pick Your Ride), and the upcoming Creative Company.

We caught up with producer Deeney to find out more about his selected project, Piece.

IFTN: What can you tell me about Piece?

“Piece is a young-adult environmental animated film focusing on the lives of a group of teenagers. Set across one weekend, their own problems are thrown into stark perspective as the effects of the climate emergency hit their town in the form of an extreme weather event. It’s a project written and directed by Alan Holly from And Maps And Plans. His previous film was the short, Coda.”

IFTN: Where did the idea for this project come from and why did you feel it was suitable for CE Single Project Funding?

“The idea came from Alan who is passionate about environmental issues. I think the story is very relatable and is able to throw a spotlight on climate issues in a way that is relevant to the lives of young people who will live their entire lives alongside the issues raised in the film. We felt that the project was suitable for CE because the subject appeals to international audiences and in practical terms the project will have to be produced using co-production partners.”

IFTN: For those that are not familiar with the fund. Can you talk me through the application process, and what you felt was key to the selection of your entry?

“This was our third time in applying to the fund with the project. The application is lengthy but for a producer it’s also a great exercise in defining the project and looking at the project. We previously received funding for CE for a documentary called Mattress Men. Back then, Ireland was positively discriminated and received bonus points in the application as it was considered a country that needed that extra help. For better, we no longer need that help and the bonus points are gone but it makes a CE application a little harder as it’s now a level playing field. This means that the quality of an application has to be incredibly high. As with both Mattress Men and Piece, discussing the project with the Media Desk in Ireland in advance of writing the application is vital as they can help guide you as to what CE is looking for which is actually quite specific. That input shaped both applications and it was invaluable.”

IFTN: European Co-Production is a fundamental aspect of this initiative. Who are you collaborating with and how did this partnership come about?

“The project is creatively led by And Maps And Plans and we are working with a French company called IKKI Films on developing this project. I produced Coda for And Maps And Plans and the relationship with IKKI came from my colleague Carla Vulpiani who met them at a market.”

IFTN: What are the benefits of securing the CE funding?

“CE Funding is really a fantastic piece of development funding. In terms of marketing the project, it’s a stamp of approval for the project internationally. The financial assistance allows us to bring the project outside of Ireland to markets and help expand on the creative development of the project.”

IFTN: What are your ambitions for this project?

“Our focus at the moment is just on story. Ultimately it will end as a feature-length animated film and we want it to be a real “high-craft” project. Obviously, the goal is for the film to reach a wide audience but considering the themes the film explores, we would hope that it becomes a way to talk about the issues and encourage awareness/change.”

IFTN: Four Irish companies were selected for this funding round, a number equal with the UK, and only one less than the highest country, Sweden (5). What does this say about the strength of the Irish screen industry currently?

“As I mentioned, it’s now harder than ever to receive CE funding and I think four Irish companies being successful points towards the quality of projects being developed in Ireland. Our project is in receipt of Screen Ireland funding and I think that’s the trigger money that is allowing companies to develop those projects that have transnational appeal.”

The next Single Project Development Deadline is dependent on the implementation of the 2021 - 2027 Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Readers can sign up to Creative Europe Ireland MEDIA Industry Newsletter if you would like to keep informed about MEDIA funding deadlines, markets, and training initiatives. 

Click here to sign up to the Creative Europe Desk Ireland MEDIA Newsletter. 

It is worth noting that the Single Project Development scheme is very competitive with the last selection rate for this deadline standing at 24%.  However, Ireland received support for 4 projects - the same number as the UK. The only small country to receive more awards than Ireland was Sweden receiving support for 5 projects.

Click here for more information about the Single Project Funding.

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