3 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
Film Industry Strategy Unveiled
05 Aug 1999 :
With the launch of the film industry Think Tank Report, the Minister for the Arts, Ms. Síle de Valera, failed to give any indication as to the Government's position on the recommendations contained within it. Inviting the industry to express their views on the report before the end of the month, she referred to it as a solid, practical and inspirational one. "Its conclusions and recommendations will form the basis of my proposals to Government that will determine the course we must follow to thrust our industry forward through the next decade." With little of that thrust able to gain momentum until the Autumn, it remains unclear just when those proposals will reach the cabinet table.

With the main recommendations focusing on the retention of Section 481 for a minimum of seven more years, industry members voiced their concern that the recommendations be implemented speedily and, at the very least, that Government give an indication of their commitment to Section 481 in advance of this.

It is clear that this specific recommendation is the hub of the report. Without additional state support to draw in further foreign investment, as well as bolster indigenous filmmaking, confidence in the sector would be eliminated. Furthermore, as the report states, "there is evidence of the emergence of an investor and banking involvement in the industry as a direct result of the existence of Section 481." To remove this incentive now would cause irreparable damage to film making here.

With growth in employment opportunities a natural spin-off of further investment, an increased emphasis is placed on nurturing skills and intellectual capital. The report is adamant that the training requirements of Section 481 be retained and monitored by Screen Training Ireland and consideration has been requested for the consolidation of a National Centre of Film Excellence within one of the major colleges.

To ensure that this strategy works, the film and television industry must move to a more central position in Irish industrial policy. This involves refocusing indigenous development, including Irish language film. Irish companies must be strategic in their partnerships and project development and to manage this the Irish Film Board should undertake a major strategic role. This role is crucial if the development proposals are to succeed. The report states that to achieve this the Irish Film Board must be funded properly and so have proposed a 5% levy on ticket and video sales. Based on similar practice in many other EU member states the report states, "a 5% levy would generate sufficient funds to provide the increased requirement of the Film Board in its new role from the year 2000 onwards. A proportion of this levy should be earmarked to incentivize distributors to distribute and exhibit Irish films in Ireland."

Recognising the partnership between unions and employers, the report reinforces the need to work in tandem to increase competitiveness and professionalism. This same partnership is also encouraged on both sides of the border with better coordination with Northern Ireland bodies strongly recommended.

The review group sees a growth rate of 400% over the next decade bringing the current value of the industry, £123 million, to a substantial £500 million by 2010. Undoubtedly, the possibility of realising this factor alone will be a pivotal agent in bringing these recommendations to fruition.

The full report is hosted on the IFTN site at: www.iftn.ie/strategyreport GQ 5/8/99

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