IBEC’s Audiovisual Federation today (Thursday, 11 December 2008) welcomed the new improvements to the Irish tax incentive for film Section 481 announced by Minister for Arts. Sport and Tourism, Martin Cullen TD at the launch of its 2008 Audiovisual Federation Review.
The 2008 Review revealed that 265 audiovisual productions were completed in Ireland in 2007, with a total production value of €195.7 million. Although these figures mark a significant reduction on the overall 2006 production figures of €279.8 million, estimated figures for 2008 confirm that the industry has returned to strong levels of production with an overall estimated value of €246 million.
Audiovisual Federation Director Tommy McCabe said, “The analysis in the report is divided under three headings; film, television and animation. The 2007 report shows a downturn in feature film productions but a continuing strong performance in TV and major TV drama productions as well as a consistent growth in animation.”
With regard to film, production activity in 2007 declined to €19.3 million, a reduction of 77% on 2006. It is estimated that the level of production activity for feature films will increase to €64 million in 2008 but this is still significantly below levels achieved in earlier years and confirms the overall loss of growth in international feature film activity. Therefore, it is hoped that the improvements to Section 481 will increase the level of international productions in Ireland next year.
Local Irish film production activity has maintained continuous growth over this period, as result of funding made available through the Irish Film Board and the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland. The profile and success of Irish indigenous production is currently very high such as ‘Once’ winning Academy Award for Best Original Song for Falling Slowly, Best Foreign Film Award at Independent Spirit Awards and ‘Eden’ winning a Best Actress Award (Eileen Walsh) at Tribeca Film Festival. A continuation of this dramatic reduction in inward production activity would have had a serious negative impact on the level of experienced personnel and infrastructure, which in turn would have been a significant restriction on indigenous development.
Kevin Moriarty, MD of Ardmore Studios and Chairman of the Audiovisual Federation Database Committee that produced the report added, “We welcome the decision by the Government to extend Section 481 to 2012 and provide the necessary enhancements to this incentive in the Finance Billin order to restore competitiveness. This indicates the Government’s commitment to the industry. We believe that these measures should facilitate a return to growth for the Irish Film and Television industry, resulting in increased economic activity, an injection of foreign currency into the economy, the creation of employment and significant tourism profile.”
Television has shown a more substantial increase, with a consistent upward trend in recent years which has continued into 2008. Irish spend in 2007 reached €154 million compared to €143.8 million in 2006. Major television productions included ‘The Tudors’ and ‘Ros na Rún’ and ‘The Clinic’.
Animation in Ireland has shown consistent growth in recent years with the sector now the largest provider of full time and permanent employment in the Film and Television independent sector. Total output in 2007 reduced to €22.4 million compared to €51.4 million in 2006. The estimate for 2008 is €37 million. These figures highlight the difficulties faced by this significant sector in a highly competitive international market. The adequacy of tax incentives, funding opportunities and commissions will all play an essential role if the earlier growth in this sector is to be continued. Animation productions included ‘Skunk Fu’, ‘Olivia’ and ‘Ballybradden’.
Andrew Lowe, Director of Element Pictures and Vice Chairman of the Audiovisual Federation added, “The Government has been very supportive in maintaining competitiveness in the past through the Section 481 film tax relief scheme and the Irish Film Board’s International Production Fund. The current amendments contained in the Finance Bill, providing certainty and restoring competitiveness, not only continue this support but also demonstrate the Government’s willingness to respond to the changing international competitive landscape. We congratulate the Government on taking measures to restore competitiveness and enable Ireland to continue to participate in the huge growth of the industry internationally.”