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Special Feature: Film & Television Industry Training in Ireland
21 Apr 2011 :
Top class Film & TV training in Ireland
As the current academic years comes to a close and as non-academic training centres across Ireland get ready to launch their summer courses, IFTN takes a look at the evolving face of film and television training in Ireland. We spoke with representatives from 12 training institutions – both academic and non-academic – to see what the current trends are in the training sector.

The centres we spoke with include Griffith College Dublin; the National Film School (IADT); the Huston School of Film & Digital Media; St. John’s Central College; Big Wave Media Training; the Park Studio; FÁS Screen Training Ireland; Greasán na Meán; Three Rock Media; Filmbase; Pulse College and the Galway Film Centre.

General Information about the Selected Training Centres

Griffith College

Griffith College’s Journalism and Media Communications department offers a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Visual Media (HETAC); BA in Journalism (HETAC); BA in Photographic Media (HETAC); Diploma in Media Techniques: TV and Video and a diploma in Sound and Music technology. The Dublin college also offers an MA in Journalism and Media Comms and an MSc in Applied Digital Media.

The college’s graduates have enjoyed much success, award winning past students including Risteard O'Domhnaill whose feature doc 'The Pipe' has nabbed several awards including an IFTA this year and Tanya Doyle who produced the award winning RTÉ doc, 'The House' who now lectures in the college.

The Huston School of Film & Digital Media

The Huston School, based on the campus of the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) was established in 2003 under the patronage of the Huston family. The centre offers theoretically based media courses such as a BA Connect with Film Studies as well as MAs in Film Studies, Screenwriting, Production and Direction, Art Policy, Practice and Digital Media. One of the recent success stories to come out of the centre is IFTA nominated screenwriter Will Collins who wrote the award winning feature, ‘My Brothers’ which opened the 2010 Galway Film Fleadh.

St. John’s Central College

Cork based St John’s Central College offers FETAC Level 5 Award in TV and Film Production and a Level 6 Advanced Film, TV and Video course. The courses look at digital film, TV and video production along with studio camerawork, lighting design, documentary and scriptwriting. Past students include writer Kevin Lehane whose feature ‘Grabbers’ recently shot in Belfast; director Kevin O'Neill who has made award winning shorts such as 'My Ball’ and writer Damien McCarthy who has penned shorts such as 'He Dies at the End'.

Big Wave Media Training

Big Wave is Ireland's first Adobe Authorised & Apple Authorised Training Centre (AATC). The Dublin city centre offers authorised short-courses in the Adobe and Apple applications and technologies, to businesses and individuals.

The Park Studio

The Park Studio plays host to the Bil Keating centre alongside other workshops and production companies. The group offers workshops in several areas including TV presentation, camerawork, floor management, production techniques and directing for TV. Previous course participants who are now active in the TV industry include ‘Livin' with Lucy' presenter, Lucy Kennedy; 'Xposé' producer, Debbie O'Donnell and 'Feis and Blood' producer, Tom Evans.

FÁS Screen Training Ireland

FÁS screen Training Ireland looks to provide market led training in response to consultation with the Irish audio-visual sector for professionals involved with the film, television, animation and digital media. The Screen Training Ireland team recently bore witness to the development of Damien O’Connor’s documentary, 'A Look at the work of Eamonn O’Doherty' which was developed on the Proposal Presentation Course, produced in conjunction with Wildfire Films and is to be televised on RTÉ this summer. Juanita Wilson’s IFTA winning feature, ‘As if I am not There’ was developed during the cinematic story development course. 

Greasán na Meán

The Gréasán na Méan Skillnet represents a growing number media industries based in the Connemara Gaeltacht. At present the network boasts 77 companies all of which have identified training needs that need to be best addressed and all aim to provide this through an innovative and collaborative approach to training.

Three Rock Media

The Three Rock Film Studios and post production facilities offer an online training centre and professional working studio space where courses are offered in several areas of filmmaking including lighting and studio work.

Filmbase

Founded in 1986, Filmbase is a support organization for the independent film and video sector in Ireland. The group runs courses of varying lengths in the areas of scriptwriting to producing and directing to camera/lighting. These range from one day intensive training days to courses lasting 8 - 10 weeks. The oldest Apple Authorized Training Center in Ireland, Filmbase provides a range of training courses from scriptwriting to producing and directing to camera/lighting. The length of these courses varies from 1 day or weekend courses to courses run over 8 - 10 weeks.

Pulse
College

A digi design pro school (one of only six in Europe), Pulse College was the first in Ireland to have accreditation from Avid. The training centre specialises in training individuals in all levels of pro-tools alongside ADR and Foley logistics. The course has led to feature film co-productions, including that of Ireland’s Newgrange Pictures and Norway’s Paradox Pictures. The two groups met on Pulse’s Screenleaders EU programme and recently completed a co-production of ‘Stella Days’ starring Martin Sheen.  

Galway Film Centre

The Galway Film Centre looks to offer equipment, training, information and post production facilities to independent filmmakers at non-commercial rates. The member based training centre offers workshops and training sessions in many areas of the film and TV industry including Documentary Making; Acting for Camera and Visual Screenwriting.

National Film School at IADT

As part of Dun Laoghaire's Insitute of Art, Design and Technology. The National Film School (NFS) at IADT was launched in November 2003. It aims to function as a centre of excellence for education and training in film, animation, broadcasting and digital media. Its CAO operated courses include BAs in Animation, Design in Visual Communications and Film and Television Production and an MA in Screenwriting for Film and Televisionand Digital Media. NFS graduates received a record twenty-two nominations, across twelve categories, at the 2010 Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) Awards. Those included Tommy Fitzpatrick and Cathy Brady’s multi-award winning graduate film, 'Small Change'. Previous graduate, Ken Wardrop has enjoyed much success since his graduation, scooping dozens of accolades for feature doc ‘His & Hers’.

Upcoming Courses and Courses in Development

Niall Meehan, head of Griffith College’s Journalism and Media Communications faculty tells us he and his staff, including filmmakers Sonya Gildea, Paddy Breathnach and Matt Skinner, are currently in development with an MA in Film and TV documentary. “With the great success that Irish documentaries have enjoyed over the years, it’s definitely something we’d like to introduce,” he says. The media degrees offered by Griffith College are applied for through the CAO system. Those wishing to change their CAO applications will have the opportunity to do so from May 5th until July 1st. After this late applications will be accepted until July 22nd. For more information as to the CAO deadlines visit www.cao.ie

The National Film School in IADT have deadlines in May for their Master courses, Screenwriting for Film and Television. The first round of applications for this course must be with NFS by May 6th. For more information about the course click here. NFS creative director, Donald Taylor Black tells us that he is considering introducing an MA in Animation. “It may happen in September 2012,” he says. “We're also looking into introducing a new MA in Film and TV Promotion which is such an important area but it's also a really tricky one to get right. We'd like it to centre it on film financing, tax logistics and film making legalities.”

Where other academic courses are concerned, the deadline for their postgraduate courses is Friday, April 29th and more information is available at the Postgraduate Applications Centre at www.pac.ie. For information as to applying for undergraduate courses email Course Director Tony Tracey by clicking here: tony.tracy@nuigalway.ie. Director of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, Rod Stoneman tells us that about an upcoming new opportunity for media students, “We’ve joined up with Trinity, UCC and NUIM to offer fellowships in the digital arts and the humanities,” he says.

Liam Hurrell, Big Wave Media Training’s training manager tells us his company are having to play the waiting game where one course is concerned: ”We’re waiting to do up a Final Cut Pro 8 courses but we have to wait for Apple to release it,” he explains. The studio has a number of Adobe courses coming up in the coming weeks including Premiere Pro and After Effects. The Park Studio’s Kevin Cassidy hopes to welcome producer Graham Cantwell (The Callback Queen) to the centre over the summer for a workshop in writing and directing.

During the summer Bil Keating will be running workshops in the areas of Multi Camera Directing and TV Production - Concept to Broadcast and Kevin tells us that Ferdia Mac Anna is currently in development with two courses, namely 'Breaking all the rules', a screenwriting course and 'How to make a film on your mobile phone'.

FÁS Screen Training Ireland will be kept busy over the summer; Project advisor, Criona Sexton tells us that she and her team have carried out a Training Needs Analysis for 2011 which included an online questionnaire with industry practitioners alongside consultation with the AV industry and key industry personnel and representative bodies to devise a training plan for the sector. As a result, the group’s planned training sessions thus far include Maya for Special Effects, Music for Games, EP Movie Magic, Production Accountancy and The Engine Room Pitch.

Moving west, Greasán na Meán will again this year take part in the Galway Arts Festival with GAF TV, an online TV channel feature coverage of the festival events which is produced, shot and edited by course students. The course will launch this year on June 11th. For more information about GAF TV visit www.gaftv.ie. Further Greasán na Meán summer classes include AutoCAD (2D and 3D drawing tool) for beginners starting on June 24th and Conversational Irish Classes for TV course starting September 29th. The group are also in development with several other courses including an introduction to RED, courses based around social networking sites and a basic skills training session for DSLR as well as a course looking at TV format pitching and proposing. 

Two upcoming Three Rock Media summer courses entitled 'Create the Film Look' will look to give filmmakers' work a professional look, as Managing Director, Emma Phelan explains: “In the course we'll explore what makes films look really cinematic - lighting etc,” she tells us. ” We'll also explore the roles that are played by those on set and give post production hints." She further tells us that the group is looking to introduce training courses and other workshops in the areas of producing and editing. Filmbase Training Manager, Gráinne MacLoone has organised a course in May with Orlaith Carmody from MEDIA training entitled ‘Life's a Pitch’ which will examine how filmmakers should present themselves and their work in a business context. The group also has a Wordpress course in preparation: “Communicating your message online is important so we’ve scheduled a two day Wordpress course for late May,” Gráinne explains.

Delving further into the multi-platform area of the TV and Film industry, Pulse College founder, Aidan Alcock tells us about the gaming course his team are currently working on: ”The media is now going in such a way that we need more and more media content for more and more platforms - TV, mobile phones etc,” he explains. “Everyone is quite up in the air as to where the multi-platform world is going to go next. And we want to be at the forefront of any developments.” Galway Film Centre Education Officer, Mary Deely is also working on introduction multimedia courses, as she explains: “One new area that we will be focussing on is Multimedia. We just kitted out the training room with the Adobe Creative Suite so we’re looking forward to offering training in those programmes.” The Galway Film Centre has several half day script-writing courses coming up with script editor Mark McIlrath which will focus on the logistics of writing and editing treatments.

Evolving Course Applicants

In speaking with the training execs and coordinators, a key element that comes across is a change in the type applicants in recent years. Mary Deeley in the Galway Film Centre has seen her courses directly affected by her artistic environments, telling us that “there is a strong visual arts scene in Galway and that is growing all the time. Events like the Visual Arts fest, Tulca and the Galway Arts Festival contribute to that and it has led to a lot of visual artists signing up to different workshops and events.” Pulse College’s Aidan Alcock is also welcoming a new wave of students, “There's a new wave of media professionals with a cutting edge desire who are all trying to spot the next big trend,” he explains.

Another trend that has become apparent is a wave of individuals already established in the media industry who are returning to ‘up-skill’ or to change direction in their careers: “I think a lot of people are coming back to training,” Big Wave Media’s Liam Hurrell tells us. ”They have been staying away for a while but many of them seem now to have decided what areas into which they would like to put their efforts.” Kevin Cassidy in The Park Studios is of the same opinion, saying: "We're seeing a lot of industry people looking to up-skill or to change their area of expertise as a result of the recession. We also get a lot of applications from TV researchers looking to break in to the production side of things." These sentiments are further echoed by FÁS Screen Training Ireland’s Criona Sexton who says: We have noted an increase in the number of applicants applying for our courses across all the areas since the economic downturn. Industry practitioners are keen to broaden their skills and keep up to speed with changes in technology.” 

Leading on from this Filmbase’s Gráinne MacLoone tells us she has also seen a growth of interest in ‘recession related’ courses. ” Courses rise and fall with trends through the years. So we're offering more courses that examine trying to raise finance and we're putting more of an emphasis on the business side of the media industry. Generally we find people start with screenwriting/ directing courses and then return to do a financing course.”   

  • For more information about the workings of any of the training centres listed above and to learn more about their respective upcoming courses and workshops please click on any of the titles below to be brought to their websites:

    Griffith College Dublin

    Huston School of Film & Digital Media

    St. John’s Central College

    Big Wave Media Training

    The Park Studio

    FÁS Screen Training Ireland

    Greasán na Meán

    Three Rock Media

    Filmbase

    Pulse College

    Galway Film Centre



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