7 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
Minister at AFCI
25 Feb 1999 :

The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Sile deValera who is leading an Irish film industry trade mission to Los Angeles, hosted an evening reception in Los Angeles to launch the Screen Commission of Ireland in the U.S.A.. Roger Green, Chief Executive of the Screen Commission, is attending AFCI Locations Expo '99 in Los Angeles where the Screen Commission has taken a stand. Over 5000 film and television professionals seeking locations for upcoming productions attend the exhibition, which is organised by the Association of Film Commissioners International. It is the only exhibition of its kind in the world.

The Minister in her address outlined the Governments commitment to facilitating the establishment and maintenance in the long term of a viable film industry pointing to the Section 481 tax relief scheme, the reconstitution of the Irish Film Board and the placing of a legal obligation on RTE to commission projects from the independent sector as evidence of this commitment and the fact that Ireland is the most productive EU country in terms of feature films produced per head of population.

In reference to the current review of the industry in Ireland the Minister said she expected to receive the report and recommendations of the Strategic Review Group she set up early next month and the Government will use this report as the basis to review existing policies and develop appropriate new strategies to ensure the further growth and diversification of film and television production in Ireland as a viable industry.

Recognising that although Irish cinema audiences per capita are the highest in Europe our home market is small and the industry must, by necessity, be outward looking as we depend in great measure upon international pre-sales and co-production funding to finance the production of our own indigenous film and television drama projects and as such welcome international productions, which come to Ireland to avail o our skills, facilities, location and talent.

Importantly she noted that the Government had no romantic illusions about film location and it recognised that the bottom line in deciding on locations for film production is the effect of the promotion schemes of different countries on the producers budget and the Government is fully conscious that film and television production will always involve an alliance between hard nosed commercialism and creativity which demands a knowledge of audiences and markets which are taken into account throughout the development of the project. As such the Government will be developing its existing support measures taking into account the forthcoming recommendations of the Strategic Review Group to facilitate international partnership.

The Minister went on to outline the four key areas where Ireland can relate effectively to the wider international industry. The first of these being Irelands story-telling tradition reflected in Irelands literary pre-eminence and invites cinematic exploration.

Secondly Irelands attractiveness as a location with it diverse urban and rural landscape and the Irish authorities have cultivated a strongly film-friendly approach so that public services operate to facilitate film production on location. She said it would be a mistake to think that Ireland must fall into a stereotyped romantic category with evidence that Ireland is a suitable location for many genres of film, from the romantic to the contemporary.

Thirdly the wealth of talent in the performing arts and in technical skills in film-making which is supported by a government training programme involving formal, on-the-job and placement training to the highest level.

Finally the Governments ongoing commitment to film production specifically pointing out the importance of the Screen Commission of Ireland. 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 last year.

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 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.

Significantly in the light of current doubts surrounding the continuation of Section 481 after it was renewed for only 12 months recently the Minister said "If you ask me about the longer term future of Section 481 as an element of Ireland's strategic plan for the industry into the next decade, I consider that it will continue to play a crucial role. I envisage that the scheme will continue to be a critical element of the strategy that will be developed by my Government following consideration of the Report and Recommendations of the Strategic Review Group."

The Screen Commission of Ireland website is at www.screencommireland.com

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

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

Email: screencommirl@tinet.ie

Michael McMahon 25/2/99

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