"If Neil Jordan needs more than a million Euro from the FilmBoard to get a film made then what hope is there for the rest of us'" So wentthe comment made by one Irish film-maker as word got around that Jordan'slatest film, Breakfast On Pluto, had received the biggest ever fundinginjection made by the Irish Film Board.
It is a neat rhetorical point that shows a sense ofperspective lacking among those Irish industry grouches who believe anestablished film-maker like Jordan hardly needs a hefty loan from the FilmBoard while others, working with much smaller budgets, are being offered farless (if any) support by the agency.
The issue is a matter for debate largely because productionloan amounts offered by the Irish Film Board have become a matter of conjecture.Unlike many corresponding agencies in Europe the Film Board keeps the cashamount of the loans it awards under wraps until its annual accounts appear. Butsince the last annual accounts published by the Film Board are for the year2002 there is a critical time lag in the flow of information, a factor whichwhen taken with a fall off in local production output in recent years givesrise to negative perceptions which will need to be addressed by Mark Woods'sreplacement as ceo at the agency.
At time of writing there is no indigenously developed filmshooting in Ireland. A two-hour TV drama for Granada/ITV on the early love lifeof Charles and Camilla, Whatever Love Means, has just started productionand two theatrical features have just started shooting - Charles Sturridge'sadaptation of Lassie, and Ken Loach's The Wind that Shakes the Barley,both films having been developed in the UK.
There may be some grumbling that the Film Board is offeringsome funding to the Loach project, despite its being an Irish story, given thatlocal films have been having a hard time getting off the page for the lastyear. Just three have gone into production since January, Grand Pictures' DeadLong Enough, Element Films' Isolation, and Brother Films' Studs.
Some film makers, despairing of getting their films financedahead of production, have gone the low/no budget route in hope of gettingcompletion money from the Film Board when the film is in the can. One of those,Liam O Mochain's 'WC', has just wrapped while two others, Perry Ogden's'Pavee Lackeen' and Patrick Kenny's 'Winter's End', did getcompletion funding from the Film Board and will be making their way onto thefestival circuit over the coming months.
The other notable absentee in the current Irish production economyis a sizeable US studio production, especially since Jim Sheridan and his HellsKitchen outfit are making a film for Paramount with bad boy rapper 50Cent inToronto. The weak dollar/strong Euro is given as one reason for the lack of astudio picture on the horizon, while another regularly cited is the relativelylow cap of Euro15million on Section 481 tax investment in any one film.
For latest Irish production listings, click here