Estimates for 2009 are, however, showing a fall to €217 million. Animation performed well with its production value increasing from €38.9m in 2008 to an estimate €43m this year.
Speaking at the launch, Audiovisual Federation director Tommy McCabe said: “Notwithstanding current pressures, the audiovisual sector remains vibrant and continues to make a significant contribution to the Irish economy. The sector is one of Ireland's great success stories and it is critical that public policy continues to support the industry, to ensure that this momentum is not lost.
"In 2008, the net benefit to the economy was €25.7m, which is the highest return since 2003, and over 1,631 people were employed in full-time equivalent jobs. The level of production activity for feature films increased to €71.9 million in 2008, up from €19.3m in 2007, but estimates for 2009 show a fall to €65m. Films produced in 2008 included Cracks (starring Sinead Cusack and directed by Jordan Scott), Five minutes of heaven (starring Liam Neeson and James Nesbit), Ondine and Triage (starring Colin Farrell).”
Other areas of the sector in 2009 that were highlighted at the launch included the Golden Globe awards for Irish actors Colin Farrell (In Bruges) and Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment), Emmy Awards for Brendan Gleeson (Into the Storm) and Dearbhla Walsh (Little Dorrit), Academy award nominations for ‘In Bruges’ and ‘New Boy’, an upward trend in independent television productions, including major TV drama and high standards in Irish animation, exemplified by ‘Ballybradden’, ‘Niko and The Way to the Stars’ and ‘Life Boat Luke’.
Kevin Moriarty, Managing Director of Ardmore Studios and Chairman of the Audiovisual Federation database committee, which produced the report, continued this strain saying: “The film and television industry continues to have great potential: economically and culturally. We applaud the government for taking measures to restore competitiveness and enable Ireland to continue to participate in the huge international growth of the industry. Despite the current economic climate, it is vital that the Government continues to support this industry, as it can yield tangible benefits for Ireland.”
Andrew Lowe, Director of Element Pictures and Chairman of the Audiovisual Federation, added: “This review demonstrates that our industry is experiencing significant challenges to maintain the level of production we enjoyed during 2008. We are heartened by the commitment and support of the government, both in terms of extending and improving Section 481 and the expected retention of the Irish Film Board. The current economic crisis is an opportunity to take stock as an industry and identify steps that we can take collectively to build a stronger, more internationally competitive, and ultimately more successful sector, both creatively and commercially. We look forward to working with all the members of the Audiovisual Federation to meet those challenges together in the year ahead.”
Teresa McGrane, Deputy Chief Executive of Bord Scannán na hÉireann said: “It should be noted that as a result of changes and improvements implemented to Section 481 there was very little production for the first three months of the year while the improvements were going through Government to become legislation. This is one of the reasons why production is down in 2009.”