6 August 2020 The Irish Film & Television Network
Bursary Brings New Horizons
13 Jan 2000 :
Advanced industry training; An elusive resource. Yet everyone seems to be able to harness it while you continue to watch from the sidelines. So how do they do it? Gary Quinn reports.

Most people are put off further training by two key factors. Timing and cost. The timing we can classify as a personal management issue. Most courses are offered in advance and at a generally suitable time for the type of participants hoped for. The key is to get in line for the information and plan ahead, but that other stumbling block, cost, is not quite so easy to plan for. Or is it?

A weekend course costing hundreds of pounds plus additional travel and accommodation costs is naturally beyond most of our reach, but a world in which only wealthy people can access training is a boring one, so a boost of diversity is needed. The simple answer? Bursaries.

A number of agencies offer bursaries for training or travel overseas, including the Arts Council, but the most relevant to the film industry is that offered by Screen Training Ireland. In the past two years a total of 224 people have been awarded funding by Screen Training Ireland to take up fulltime training or foreign work programmes abroad. 73 of these in the ten months from January to October ‘99 alone.

The projects accessed ranged from production courses in UCD to camera and lighting training in London to composer apprenticeships in Los Angeles.

Ann-Marie Walsh co-ordinates the Bursary Programme for Screen Training Ireland, “The bursary programme is a very important part of the Screen Training Ireland remit,” she said. “We are particularly interested in pushing the fact that the bursaries are not only for directed training courses but also for work programmes.”

The Bursary Award scheme was designed to ensure professional development and with a specific objective of exposing participants to the best training expertise and work situations world-wide. The bursaries are not designed for that first dip in the film world. They are for people seeking to bring their skills and careers to another level. A participant in receipt of a bursary knows their field. They are already emerging producers or camera operators, composers or designers. Greg Magee is one such person. He had been trained as a composer and was advised that he would benefit from exposure to more international training. He was offered contacts in LA and he jumped at the chance. Having set up the tuition, he had one major difficulty, cost.

“I approached Screen Training Ireland to see what they could do for me. I had already secured the tuition and needed help getting there and of course surviving during the stay.” He put together a budget outlining the costs of travel, tuition and living expenses. The destination being LA, the budget included the use of a car. “The budget was extensive. It was important for Screen Training that I showed that I had researched the trip well and that I hadn’t simply thrown the idea together.” The bursary Greg received ran to approx. £3,000. This covered 60% of his budget, which is the maximum the scheme allows and was paid in three instalments. A certain percentage before the trip, an amount when he got there and the final instalment when he returned home. The remaining 40% of the budget should be sourced elsewhere by the applicant.

Although it took clever financial management and longer than he expected to organise the trip, Greg Magee found the entire process very worthwhile. “It’s as much about the training as meeting the industry professionals. I came back very fired up and with new ideas which the Irish industry hadn’t yet adopted. My career path was definitely changed by the experience.”

Adam H. Stewart also made it to LA with the help of the Bursary scheme. He undertook a Masters Degree in Production Design at the American Film Institute. He values the training highly but stresses that there is more to the international training than just the classroom work. Speaking after the course he said, “While in LA I learned the nuts and bolts of production and how to create a film from start to finish – Where the money comes from and more importantly how it is spent.” It also taught him that film doesn't begin and end simply with talent. “raising it (money), and making it work effectively for the film is challenging. I have learned to work with the challenge of financial limitations, a key to the success of any film production,” he explained.

Greg Magee agrees with this. “It’s easy to become complacent about your work and believe that talent is all that is needed to get ahead. But when you get to explore a more global stage you see that there are so many other factors involved. I suppose it motivates you to get up and do something yourself,” he explained.

The Bursary Award Scheme is an ongoing fund and is awarded on a monthly basis. Potential applicants should plan well in advance and work with Screen Training Ireland when putting together their budget and planning the training available to them. Funding is available for both national and international training and work placements.

Further information is available from Sharon Brady
at 01 6070973 or from their website at www.screentrainingireland.ie

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