12 July 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network

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Northern Ireland Screen launches new 4-year strategy: "Stories, Skills and Sustainability"
11 Oct 2022 : News Desk
(L-R) Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen; Leesa Harker, writer and former Northern Ireland Screen trainee script editor; Esther Katasi, CINE scheme participant, Gavin Kelly, Northern Ireland Screen Facilities &Sustainability Manager
NI Screen launches its new strategy Stories, Skills and Sustainability detailing its ambitious plans for the next 4 years.  

Despite pandemic-related challenges the combined budgets for productions supported by Northern Ireland Screen during its last strategy (Opening Doors Phase II, 2018-22) exceeded a billion pounds, with more than £330m of that staying in the local economy, surpassing the £300m target set in 2018. Building on that success, Northern Ireland Screen’s new strategy has increased that target by more than 40% to £430m.

At an event today at the Waterfront Hall, Northern Ireland Screen will celebrate the success of the screen industry over the last 4 years, reflecting on the huge successes including Lisa McGee’s Derry Girls, Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar for Belfast, record breaking audiences for Line of Duty and Bloodlands and the upcoming release of Netflix’s The School for Good and Evil. 

The event will also highlight the great strides made within the games cluster in Northern Ireland with Soft Leaf Studios, Level 91 Entertainment and Bellular Studios showcasing their games to the large screen industry audience. Northern Ireland Screen will also stress the critical importance of preserving and showcasing Northern Ireland’s rich moving image archive with footage from its Digital Film Archive on display.

Ministers for the Economy and Communities have endorsed the launch of Stories, Skills and Sustainability which is strongly aligned to DfE’s 10X strategy and DfC’s focus on tackling inequalities. 

Highlights within the strategy include:

  • Northern Ireland Screen’s commitment to creating ladders for the next generation of story tellers and creating an eco-system that can help produce the next Lisa McGee. This includes:
    • More than doubling Northern Ireland Screen’s skills budget to £4m per annum.
    • The ongoing importance of Moving Image Arts GCSE and A Level.
    • Nerve Belfast’s move to W5.
    • The continuation of Into Film’s ScreenWorks work experience programme.
    • Continuation of short film funding, script development funding and New Talent Focus.
  • Emphasis on the innovative growth that will be driven by Studio Ulster, Ulster University’s virtual production facility at Belfast Harbour Studios.
  • The ongoing importance of Northern Ireland Screen’s partnership with the BBC including the delivery of ‘CINE’’, the Creative Industries New Entrant programme designed to create new entrant opportunities for those most socially marginalised including the disabled, ethnic minorities and those from the lowest socioeconomic groups.
  • The introduction of environmental sustainability as a key consideration.

Speaking ahead of the launch, the Economy Minister Gordon Lyons MLA said:

“I have had the opportunity to visit some of the productions supported by Northern Ireland Screen and I have seen at first hand the impact that these investments have.  The scale of the largest productions is really something that you cannot fully appreciate until you see ‘behind the camera’ and it is clear to me that our screen industries will be a focus for growth as we deliver the Department’s 10x Economic Vision.  These productions provide highly skilled job opportunities, placements to develop our growing screen workforce, and establish significant supply chains that all contribute to stronger economic activity.

“The 10x Vision aims to deliver innovative, inclusive and sustainable growth and Stories, Skills and Sustainability has a big part to play in delivering those objectives for the screen industries.  I am pleased to be able to announce £4.8m to enable the first year of the strategy to be delivered in full to ensure it gets off to the best possible start.”

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA said:

“Our story here is of world-class filmmakers, producers, actors, animators and game designers. Many high-profile productions made on these shores have recently made an impact across the globe.

“My Department has been working with NI Screen to keep developing our amazing pool of local talent. I am pleased to see so many young people develop skills and build career pathways so that they can reach their full potential, regardless of their background. The emphasis and energy that NI Screen programmes place on attracting participation from underrepresented groups is a particular strength of the education programme.

“Partnership is key to future success, for the screen industry and for our community. I am pleased to continue to provide support to ensure a strong and vibrant industry that benefits lives and livelihoods, now and for future generations.”

Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen said:

We are delighted to launch our new strategy today and share our ambition for the future of the screen industry in Northern Ireland.

“While we recognise that there is considerable market turbulence right now and that there are big challenges ahead, we are confident that there will still be sufficient opportunities for the industry to continue to grow and we will do what we can to assist with these challenges. We must keep chasing the opportunities and upskilling our workforce because there are many more stories that need to be told.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Department for Economy and Department for Communities for their continued support as we endeavor to become the strongest screen industry in the UK and Ireland outside of London.”

Northern Ireland Screen is the national screen agency for Northern Ireland. They agency is committed to maximising the economic, cultural, and educational value of the screen industries for the benefit of Northern Ireland. This goal is pursued through its mission to accelerate the development of a dynamic and sustainable screen industry and culture in Northern Ireland.

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