12 April 2021 The Irish Film & Television Network
Creative Europe - Single Project Development Spotlight: Lunar Pictures
05 Jun 2020 : Nathan Griffin
Lunar Pictures
In the second of a series of interviews, we spoke with producer Niamh Fagan of Lunar Pictures, one of four selected Irish benefices 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.

Based in Westport, Co. Mayo, Lunar Pictures is an award-winning film and television production company whose project Dad’s Red Dress recently received Single Project Development from Creative Europe. Last year saw Fagan’s Lunar Pictures release their debut feature documentary Shooting The Mafia.

Directed by Kim Longinotto, the documentary unflinchingly explored the stark reality of life, and death, under the oppressive Sicilian Mafia. Shooting The Mafia is told from the perspective of Letizia Battaglia, an Italian photographer who dedicated her life to documenting the life and crimes of the Mafia. The Mafia’s far-extending reach is portrayed through a combination of rare archive footage, newsreel and personal photographs and memories. Produced by Niamh Fagan for Lunar Pictures, the film was financed by Screen Ireland, Impact Partners, The Artemis Rising Foundation, and Screenscene Post Production.

We caught up with producer Niamh Fagan to find out more about her selected project, Dad’s Red Dress.

What can you tell me about your selected project?

“Dad's Red Dress is a comedy family drama series for television.  It's told from the POV of a 13 year old girl, Jessie, whose Dad is transitioning into the woman she believes she is. It’s hard enough becoming a woman without your Dad becoming one too!”

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

“Dad's Red Dress is based on a book of the same name by Lindsay J Sedgwick.  My 11 year old read Dad’s Red Dress, she told me all about it, I loved the sound of it. Having read it I know it will make a gorgeous and timely television series.  I felt it was suitable for CE funding because of the nature of the story and the way the story is dealt with. I also feel that the TV series will be engaging and entertaining and has the potential to reach a wide audience.”

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?

“It’s an elephantine application - and how does one eat an elephant? One bite at a time!  You need to be organised, give yourself plenty of time and be patient.  Oh, and have the wonderful Eibhlin Ni Munghaile in Creative Media Galway on standby for her sage advice and unending support to get you through it!”

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

“Dad’s Red Dress is in early stage development, so I haven’t finalised any Co-production deals.  Thanks to my last film, Shooting The Mafia, I garnered a wide range of connections throughout Europe. That film opened many doors for me and I met lot of producers, distributors and sales agents that I would like to work with. I want to develop the project a little further before deciding on the best co-pro route. Reassuringly, there is already a good deal of interest in the project.”

What are the benefits of securing the CE funding?

“It's a really good kickstart to the project.  Once you've financial support in one quarter it helps to encourage others to hop on board - it’s a really respectable endorsement.

What are your ambitions for this project?

“If we can make a popular and engaging TV series that captures the warmth and tone of Lindsay’s book and matches the way she deftly handles her subject matter and characters I will have gone a long way towards achieving my ambitions for Dad’s Red Dress.  There are not a lot of dramas out there with Trans people at its core, it's our ambition with this project to do well by them. We aim to tell a relatable story about what it's like to be part of a non-traditional family for a mainstream audience. I am excited about building a crack team to make a really top quality, gorgeous bit of telly.”

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?  

“It's great and not surprising that Ireland continues to hold its own with Creative Europe given the abundance of talent here. Though, that’s all pre-Covid. I feel the real test of the strength of the Irish screen industry lies in how creative and innovative we are in how we deal with the new challenges we face. I’m confident that this industry and the talented people in it can and will find a way through. Lunar is already gearing up to shoot a TV drama project under Covid Rules.”

The next Single Project Development Deadline is dependent on 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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