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New initiatives and growth of the industry on show as Screen Ireland launches 2023 Production Slate
31 Jan 2023 : Nathan Griffin
Screen Ireland Slate 2023
Screen Ireland also launched a new Regional Production Activity Fund, Sustainability Initiatives, and a new ad campaign voiced by Colin Farrell to promote new support for the industry through the new ‘Minding Creative Minds’ initiative.

The national screen agency revealed its upcoming slate of productions coming to audiences and international markets this year at an event held in Dublin, which was attended by Screen Ireland representatives together with a host of Irish screen creative talent.

Screen Ireland also published the industry’s production figures for 2022 and revealed details of a number of new initiatives that are being rolled out to support the industry in 2023.  The event took place on the back of the announcement last week of this year’s Oscar nominations, which saw Irish creative talent steal the show with a phenomenal record number of 14 nominations.

In 2022, Screen Ireland-supported projects garnered over 150 awards and nominations throughout the year. This high volume of recognition across a range of areas highlights the sustained growth, success and impact of the Irish screen industry on the international stage.

Film Television, Documentary, and Animation Highlights

The 2023 Production Slate contains 44 projects crossing a multitude of genres and target audiences (9 feature films, 3 animation series, 8 TV dramas, 13 documentaries, and 7 short films).

John Carney’s Flora and Son will be released to audiences this year. This is the writer /director’s first film since the audience hit Sing Street and stars Eve Hewson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Jack Reynor. It was picked by Apple TV after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this month.

Speaking at the Slate launch, John Carney, who was in attendance alongside the film’s star Eve Hewson, said: “It’s beautiful to see a small Island nation come up against the giant of Hollywood through years of seeding and financing talent. To see our actors, directors, writers, and producers accepted and celebrated overseas in numerous festivals, theatres, and awards, is a testament to arts funding, and would be next to impossible without support and cultivation of talent. In the film business particularly, be wary of anyone who tells you they’ve done it on their own. It’s an art form that is simply impossible without generous support.”

Also in attendance was actor Charlene McKenna who stars in Clean Sweep, a crime thriller TV series set to premiere on RTÉ later this year. The actress also discussed her voice role in animated feature film A Greyhound of a Girl, based on the short story from Roddy Doyle, which will premiere at the Berlinale Film Festival next month.

Documentary highlights in the Slate include Gar O’Rourke’s Ukraine-set Sanatorium, while upcoming animated TV series include new episodes of Atom Town, a STEM educational children’s series based on the Periodic Table.

Maintaining sustainable growth & skills Development

Production activity in Ireland has continued to grow at a steady level over recent years. Production spend in the Irish economy hit a record high in 2021, an exceptional year due to the increased level of activity taking place following the Covid-related production shutdowns. Production activity in 2022, recorded a spend of €361,487 million driven by both Irish and international productions – an increase of €4 million from 2019, the year preceding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Screen Ireland continues to drive more opportunities to train and upskill across all areas of the screen industry. 2022 saw a total of more than 3,500 skills development placements across Section 481 training, courses and other skills development initiatives, including mentorships, shadow directing, and more.

TV drama production activity has particularly increased in the last number of years, driven by a number of targeted supports from Screen Ireland, and TV dramas coming to screens this year include Element Pictures’ The Dry, premiering this March on RTÉ; Clean Sweep later this year; and Season 2 and 3 of popular returning series Kin and Smother respectively.

A report published this month revealed, for the first time, the impact that the Government tax incentive for the screen industry - Section 481 - has delivered for Irish society, for audiences at home and abroad, and for professionals working in the creative screen industry in Ireland. The Olsberg SPI report - The Cultural Dividend Generated by Ireland’s Section 481 Film and Television Incentive - indicated that 89% of incoming production expenditure can be attributed to Section 481. It also highlighted that a high proportion of projects accessing Section 481 rely on creative Irish talent, with 68% of productions using Irish talent between 2017 and 2021.

New Regional Production Fund & Sustainability Resources

Details of a new fund to further support regional activity was also announced by Screen Ireland. The Regional Support Fund is designed to support the development of skills around the country, outside of Dublin and Wicklow. It is targeted at crew across all grades, including new entrants, and will also require commitments in the area of Diversity and Inclusion, sustainable production and on-set initiatives. €3.5 million has been ringfenced from Screen Ireland’s 2023 Budget for the fund.

The development of film and television production activity and jobs across regional Ireland remains a key priority for Screen Ireland. 47% of the local Irish feature film and TV drama in Screen Ireland’s 2023 slate were produced or filmed on location in regional areas, including Donegal, Limerick, Clare, Galway, and Mayo.

Screen Ireland also confirmed that, starting this year, funding will be available for all Screen-Ireland supported productions to engage a Sustainability Advisor in addition to the requirement for productions to document their carbon footprints. Screen Ireland is working to ensure a more environmentally responsible and sustainable screen industry.

New voices and talent development

Supporting new and emerging voices remains a priority for Screen Ireland, as part of its mission to build a sustainable, inclusive, and diverse screen industry.

At the slate launch, emerging writer/director Eva Birthistle discussed her debut feature film Kathleen, which begins production next month. Eva, who was awarded Development Funding for the project prior to it going into production, said: “It’s an incredibly exciting time for Irish film. I’m thrilled to be part of Screen Ireland’s slate for 2023. Production is about to begin on my first feature film Kathleen. Only for Screen Irelands continued support over the last few years, my move from actor to director has been made possible, highlighting how critical it is for the industry that we have a national agency that can support talent through every stage of their career.”

Another beneficiary, writer/director Derek Ugochukwu spoke about his upcoming short film, Pediment, which is due to begin shooting this Spring. Derek was also selected for Screen Ireland’s highly competitive Spotlight New Writing Scheme, which aims to discover and develop new screenwriting voices.

Minding Creative Minds – Advertising campaign voiced by Colin Farrell launched

Starting this year, new supports will be available for people working in the screen industry as a result of funding provided by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, through Minding Creative Minds. Mental health supports including weekly counselling sessions for a period of 12 weeks are available, as well as legal, financial and career advice, to provide support to people in the industry, when they need it.

A new campaign to promote the supports to the industry was launched at the Slate event today, featuring animations from talented storyboard artist /director Ian McCaffrey, and voice-overs by Irish Oscar-nominated actor, Colin Farrell.

Désirée Finnegan, Chief Executive of Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland, said: “Screen Ireland is proud to launch the 2023 Slate of Productions across film, television, animation and documentary.  There is a wide range of productions coming to audiences in the year ahead, which are a testament to all the creative talent that worked on them. We’re also particularly proud to support and raise awareness for Minding Creative Minds across the industry. We would like to thank Minister Catherine Martin TD for her continued support, enabling us to provide targeted initiatives across the country, helping to build and maintain growth across all parts of the sector, and to assist talent at all stages in their careers.  The incredible Academy Awards nominations news last week is a further reminder of the impact that this sector can have, with Irish creative talent being recognised amongst the best in the world.”

Click here for more information about Screen Ireland.

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