3 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
Isle of Man Film Commission
01 Jul 1999 :
As everyone working in the Irish Film Industry is aware, there's been a tailing off of productions this summer in comparison with the level of activity over the last few years. Crews are finding themselves back on the 55 a day special projects rate and head of Ardmore studios, Kevin Moriarty, was recently quoted as saying that business was down 50% on last year and that future bookings were sporadic. Some blame the recent legislation regarding Section 481, some blame the infrastructure, while others maintain that the last few years were the exception to the rule. While all this is being debated however, the Isle of Man would appear to have become the 'new' choice for a wide variety of productions that one would have expected, due either to Irish content or Irish involvement, to have been shot on our green isle. 'Waking Ned Devine' seemed to start it all off; an intrinsically Irish story, set in Ireland, starring Strumpet City's very own Rasher's Tierney, David Kelly and garnishing quite a bit of PR stateside. Mary McGuckian shot 'The George Best Story', in Manx land starring Cal's own John Lynch as everybody's favorite lush (following Ollie's demise) and the new Irish cinema's leading youngblood Paddy Breathnach is due to shoot Simon Montifiore's new hairdressing script in the land of the tailless cat.

So what's brought it all about?

The Isle of Man Film Commission, that's what. It's current equity investment offers up to 65% of the budget as direct equity investment, 25% by way of loans and equity and 40% by way of 'other financing instruments'. On top of that they're also offering production credits (which replace transferable tax credits) up to the value of 350,000 per television production. The main criteria to avail of these incentives are; that the applicant must be an Isle of Man resident production company (though for how long before becoming eligible isn't mentioned); that more than 20% of the production budget (excluding the costs of principal cast, story and script and producer's and director's fees) must be island based expenditure; that the production must be made wholly or in part in the Isle (Annex 1 6.19. "The producers to undertake that at least 50% of all principal photography will be completed on the Isle of Man"); that the production must not be contrary to the laws of the Isle of Man nor prejudicial to the interest of the Isle of Man and that the producers will undertake to employ at least four Manx workers in recognised trainee roles for the duration of the filming in the Isle of Man. Sounds like a swell deal to me. Couple that with the fact that courier and lab costs are going to be well down on similar costs in Ireland and you can see why any production company in its right mind would choose to shoot there. And I mean that without any of that old Scottish Braveheart begrudgery. The Isle of Man Film Commission has compiled a directory of local services which covers everything from Armourers to Avids, Cameramen to Cherry pickers and Prop dressers to Nurses. Admittedly a lot of the studio support is on the mainland, but hell, they're still a lot closer than they are to Dublin.

There's a number of other interesting criteria as you get into the fine print of the Department of Trade & Industry's Annex 1 on it's film & television fund.

The production must be produced in the English language and in colour. The producers shall permit the Department of Trade and Industry to view the weekly rushes at a laboratory of their choice !

And one that I find particularly fascinating;
"The producers to undertake in the event that the Film fails to secure a United Kingdom theatrical release within eighteen months from the date of delivery and completion of the Film, the Department of Trade and Industry shall be granted such theatrical rights in the Isle of Man. The Department of Trade and Industry shall be responsible for the costs of such theatrical release in the Isle of Man and shall be entitled to all net receipts resulting there from in addition to all other payments due to the Department of Trade and Industry under this Agreement etc etc..."

Now there's one for Sile. If one of Bord Scannan's undernourished prodigy is deemed too appalling to be set free on the world, then we should have our own Department of Arts, Culture, the Gaeltacht & the Islands Cinema which can run all year round screenings of those dark and brooding children who should have been given a good script edit in the womb and force the film Intelligentsia who green lighted them to watch them at least twice a week... until they say sorry.

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