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Screen Commission of Ireland Launch
10 Dec 1998 :
Sile deValera, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, welcomed Commissioners and guests at Dublin Castle on Tuesday 8th December 1998, marking the first official meeting of the Screen Commission of Ireland and the Minister. The Commission, which is made up of people from many facets of the film industry, including film producers, professional advisors to film in the areas of finance, tax, accountancy, film organisational executives and two well known actors, Sinead Cusack and Pierce Brosnan, was established by the Minister in the March of this year.

The Screen Commission became operational at the beginning of September '98 with the establishment of an office, setting up a database and started on building a locations library. It is the Commission's task to provide information about locations, casting, crew, equipment, facilities and investment in film, as well as becoming a contact point for a number of regional Commissions throughout Ireland.

On top of these essential services, the Screen Commission's other major role is the promotion of Ireland as a film location internationally. This includes 'selling' the tax advantages and other incentives in Ireland as well as highlighting the facilities, professional crews and wealth of film-making experience available in Ireland to outside production companies and while in Ireland to facilitate those incoming production companies.

One of the first policy decisions taken by the Commission according to Roger Greene, Chief Executive of the Screen Commission, was to join the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI), the world-wide representative body for film commissioners. Apart from giving the Commission immediate official status amongst film-makers and commissioners the international body has already proved a valuable networking institution for the Irish industry and a source of producer enquiry form abroad.

It is the Screen Commission's intention to work closely with Irish producers and film organisations to help ensure that the indigenous production industry continues to be strong, competitive and, therefore, attractive to the outside film-maker. To this end, Roger Greene said the Commission will be assessing ways, in conjunction with other film bodies, of how to strengthen the Irish Industry by, for instance, seeking qualifying broadcaster input to the independent sector. Other issues to be addressed in the future include assessing national crew rates for competitiveness and monitoring working relationships between the essential state services and the film industry.

In his speech Mr Greene pointed out that film's shot in a particular locale, apart from the direct economic benefits, have a significant influence on people's perceptions of a place. Subliminally or otherwise it can promote tourism and future industrial development. The economic knock-on effects - or multiplier effects - reach nearly all sectors of the economy locally and ultimately nationally. Investment in film can therefore be regarded as and investment for a country or place.

Recognising that the primary responsibility common to all film commissions is marketing, the Screen Commission of Ireland is preparing for its first international marketing programme and has drawn up a plan which includes a presence at the AFCI's annual locations exhibition in Los Angeles in mid February followed by the American Film Market at the end of February to the beginning of March. The attendance at both these events will coincide with the first Commission trade mission from Ireland which may be led by the Minister for Arts, Sile deValera, who will be joined by a number of representatives from the industry. It is also intended that the Commission will be part of a major Irish presence at the Cannes Film Festival where it will join forces with a number of organisations, principally The Irish Film Board.

Roger Green also pointed out the very important role played by Section 481 incentives, which are up for renewal next year. In a strong defence of the tax incentives he said that Section 481 should not be undervalued or misrepresented and had contributed in no small measure to the global recognition of the Irish film industry, attracting major film-makers here who would have been highly unlikely to come here otherwise, even with the very high level of service available here. Section 481 has allowed Irish producers to approach the international market with a proportion of their budget in place, triggering foreign investment in presales and co-production. It has focused film financing on developing and maintaining a strong orientation towards the international market and created an internationally aware independent sector. It has also helped create strong links and co-operation between the film production sector and financial sector which has, in turn, generated expertise in the area of international film finance. Also the quality of training on Irish films is high with technicians and talent getting more challenging work, achieving a level of international recognition and bankability which in turn assists the financing of more ambitious projects.

The Screen Commission of Ireland website which is designed by IFTN will be on-line next week, at www.screencommireland.ie

If you have any enquiries about the Commission and its work, please contact:

The Information Officer

Screen Commission of Ireland

16 Eustace Street
Temple Bar
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel: +353 1 672 7252
Fax: +353 1 672 7251

Email: screencommirl@tinet.ie

Michael McMahon 10/12/98





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