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Film In Cork’s Rossa Mullin talks the power of the Rebel County
02 Nov 2015 : Seán Brosnan
Palme D’Or winner ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’ was filmed in Cork
Film in Cork Manager Rossa Mullin takes us through the work his organisation does - promoting and marketing the Cork region locally, nationally and internationally as a wonderful place to work.

Having a storied history of big-budget productions gracing the Rebel County – starting with ‘Moby Dick’ in 1956 (and including a Palme D’Or winner ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’) – Cork has also been a training ground for many famous sons and daughters in the industry such as Cillian Murphy, Fiona Shaw, Eileen Walsh, Sarah Greene, Niall Toibin, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and ‘Brooklyn’ director John Crowley.

In short, Film In Cork provides production, location and training support services to those working in film, television, and animation and also offers training initiatives in conjunction with regional and national partners to develop solid bridges for local talent into the industry. But, as Rossa Mullin explains, the organisation also does a whole lot more…

IFTN: As the biggest county in Ireland (and one of the most geographically diverse) the benefits of filming anything in Cork are clear - but as someone who spends their days actively promoting production in the county – what else can you tell us about the benefits of filming in the county?

Rossa Mullin: ‘There are so many! To begin with, we offer a dedicated industry locations recce and production support service, which is very happy to facilitate any scale of production looking to shoot in the Cork region. Secondly - and it's related to the first - the Cork Film Partnership has been established which is comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders including Cork City & County Councils, the Cork Chamber of Commerce, Cork Airport, the Port of Cork, UCC, CIT, St. Johns College, etc, all of whom are very familiar with what is required by production in terms of access, logistics, and so on, and are on board to facilitate this - in fact are very keen to welcome crews.’

Cork certainly has a storied history of acclaimed productions shooting in the county –classics such as ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’, ‘Angela’s Ashes’, ‘Ondine’, ‘War of The Buttons’, ‘Felicia's Journey’ and even as far back as ‘Moby Dick’ (1956) – being outside the obvious filming areas in Dublin and Galway, is it harder to land these big productions?

‘Yes and no. Naturally bringing a substantial number of crew on location adds to the budget which is going to impact us. However, Cork has an ever increasing pool of experienced HoD's who commute, be it to Dublin, Belfast or London so I think the larger productions are beginning to see that it's possible to source crew with the requisite experience in the Cork region if they have a decent lead-in time for prep. For very big productions, the additional cost of bringing in crew isn't an issue - see ‘Star Wars’ recently - and even for more modestly budgeted co-productions such as, for example, ‘The Lobster’, shooting completely on location in Kerry wasn't a problem. So production outside Dublin/Wicklow/Galway is definitely something that can be achieved once the desire and prep is there.’

The benefits of drawing big productions to a region are obvious with the government refining Section 481 a few times in recent years – for a county like Cork – how important is it economically to draw these big productions?

‘Obviously Cork is well aware of how significant an economic stimulus large productions, film or television, can provide, having seen the direct benefits on some of the projects you mentioned above. These will always be very welcome. However, there is also a significant amount of year-round production that happens here and which has a steady positive economic impact. For example, RTÉ Cork employs over 30 full-time staff as well as lots of freelance crew and produces year after year some of the biggest hits for the national broadcaster e.g. ‘Creedon's Wild Atlantic Way’, ‘Secrets of the Irish Landscape’ and shows like ‘Taste of Success’, which sell well internationally and pick up major awards for RTÉ on the global stage. Other less visible but nevertheless significant success stories abound in Cork: for example, in terms of facilities, Ireland's largest and most successful OB company TVM, is a Cork company. They service all the major OB events across the country for clients such as Sky Sports, the BBC, MTV, etc as well as RTÉ, TG4 & TV3. This expertise in television production in Cork, as well as its economic benefit, is often overlooked.’

With the talk in Ireland now turning to the issue of more studio space and with Cork being one of the most scenic regions in Ireland – would there be any plans afoot to perhaps promote the production of a studio in the county to compliment the county’s other benefits?

‘The whole issue with a studio, of course, is stage occupancy and without a company or major facility to funnel work into the space it's difficult to justify the investment required to achieve the spec contemporary productions have come to expect. We are very excited to see the proposed facility in Limerick and with Ardmore supplying it with projects you would assume for the foreseeable future they would achieve decent occupancy rates. However, we are more focused on working with a production of scale to provide a "pop-up" studio space and in fact we've recently completed a property audit to identify and begin preliminary talks with owners so in the event that a production is looking for this kind of large scale support we are in a position to respond.’

A lot of internationally renowned talent hail from the Rebel County also – most notably actors such as Cillian Murphy, Fiona Shaw, Eileen Walsh, Sarah Greene, Niall Toibin and Jonathan Rhys Meyers – are there any systems put in place within the county to make sure that this talent pool grows even larger?

‘Absolutely, and not forgetting all the other talent - directors like John Crowley whose ‘Brooklyn’ is making such an impact at the moment, great documentary filmmakers like Pat Collins, as well as animators producing things like ‘Sminky’ and ‘Martin's Life’. We also have a really vibrant culture of music video production here in Cork, and people making a big impact internationally, e.g. Feel Good Lost whose video for Hozier's Take Me To Church got them to LA recently for the MTV VMAs and signed up by Academy Films - Jonathan Glazer & David Fincher's company. To build on all this momentum we are working with Screen Training Ireland to provide practical workshops that help emerging talent take the next steps from their base in Cork. This has started very well and, for example, we ran a great pitching workshop recently with Screen Training Ireland as part of the IndieCork Festival and will be launching a monthly evening seminar from January 2016 aimed at above-the-line talent. There's also the Talent Campus that runs as part of the Cork Film Festival each year and this year's edition has some very exciting workshops, panels and seminars which we are delighted to be involved in.

Cork also has some of the best film festivals in the country including two you mentioned there...

‘Absolutely! Cork city has the longest running film festival in Ireland - celebrating 60 years in style this year!! A love of film is probably more in the water in Cork than anywhere else in the country it seems. This took root on the back of giants such as John Huston, Gregory Peck & Orson Welles working out of Cork in 1956 to make ‘Moby Dick’. The CFF has, as mentioned, a growing industry focus but it also caters to Cork audiences with a very diverse range of programming. IndieCork is a very welcome addition to the Cork festival landscape and with its strong independent ethos appeals to the filmmaker who knows just how hard it is to make anything. This celebration of triumph over adversity definitely tickles our fancy down here and judging by the amount of visiting filmmakers this year, from across the country and further afield, it's not just a Cork thing. But we also have some gems throughout the County like the Fastnet Short Film Festival in Schull which punches above its weight each May getting very high profile guests like Stephen Frears, Steve Coogan, Jim Sheridan and Lenny Abrahamson.’

In an ideal world, where do you hope the TV, Film and Animation industry in Cork will be in five years’ time?

‘Thriving on a mixture of high-end work coming in from outside, a burgeoning independent sector across film, television and animation, as well as having established a solid way to nurture emerging talent so they can find their place in the Irish industry during this exciting time of growth.’

For more information on the services Film In Cork provide, visit their website at filmincork.com.



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