7 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
Government Backs Film's Future
16 Dec 1999 :
The future of the film industry was underlined this week when Government agreed to back Sile deValera's plan for the next decade. Gary Quinn was there.

Barring an ‘almost controversial’ levy on cinema seats, the Think Tank Report has returned safely from its 3-month odyssey through Government, and with it a new, more mature name. From here on in, it’s the Kilkenny Report and the handpicked members of the Think Tank group, in retrospect, are now in the Kilkenny Group.

“The Government has agreed to assign the audio-visual industry a central place in Ireland’s industrial policy.” A clear message of authority and echoed in all the measures underwritten by Sile deValera at the launch this week. Providing the final push for a film strategy which has been welcomed by all commentators, the very least it can achieve is to let the industry get on with the business of making films.

".. no room for misperception .."

Kevin Moriarty, Managing Director of Ardmore Studios was delighted at the endorsement the sector has received through the report’s recommendations. “It is extremely important that we send out a very strong message on the strategy for the future of the industry here. There is simply no room for misperception,” He explained referring to the dark clouds which have dogged the industry due to the uncertainty surrounding Section 481.

Making Section 481 its foundation is what will make this plan workable and also create the necessary conditions for stability within the sector. In an immediate sense it is also the one thing which will have most impact on independent production. “There is now a certainty over section 481,” explained Tanya Banotti of Filmmakers Ireland, “this in itself will make producers more assured. There are other concerns still outstanding which the report doesn’t touch upon such as the cap on RTE spending and development of the industry in the West but as far as section 481 and the film board funding, today’s announcements are to be welcomed,” she said.

".. distributors were less than happy .."

A related decision sees Ossie Kilkenny take on the position of Chair of the Irish Film Board. To ensure that he has the resources to work with, the Board will receive increased funding and a major restructuring. The first and most pressing change will be increased staff. This will allow for the provision of expertise in high-quality script development, new project development and co-ordination of generic marketing programmes of Irish film and television content. To enable all this to fall into place the board’s capital provision will rise by 30% for the year 2000 reaching £9.5 million by 2004. Although it is clear that the staggered approach to this funding increase will slow the rate of growth comparable to a more rapid funding increase, the pace of change is significant. “The Minister has taken a long term view, beyond the present Governments life-span and that is central to her message,” explained Dr. Colum Kenny of the Independent Radio and Television Commission.

During the planning and drafting of the Kilkenny Report it was clear that distributors were less than happy with their apparently marginal role in the planning proceedings. The Minister has attempted to address this shortfall in the strategy plan by acknowledging the need for increased contact between the distribution sector and the production sector in the future. “Distributors have the feel of the market and should be in a position to contribute ideas and advice, and perhaps also investment, in the development of new film projects. I will be asking the film board to facilitate contact and liaison between producers and distributors to develop these possibilities,” the Minister explained.

The actual results of the report and its impact will, of course, be borne by the industry itself. The plan now set, will determine the future of the industry until its life-span is completed in 2010. By 2005 it is estimated that we will be able to record real results, but in the meantime the Minister believes that ”those involved in the industry need to operate in a modern, transparent way. It is the industry itself, which must grasp these opportunities with conviction and determination to succeed.” she said. Motivating words indeed.

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