Aftera slow seven months it looks increasingly likely that Irish producers will pushupwards of six locally developed features into production before the year-end.That they are "likely" to start means, as many producers are carefulto say, that the films are probable rather than definite and that financingdeals in many cases are in the process of being closed.
That the two most substantial productions are theatricalanimation features with budgets in the region of Euros 5.5-6.5million isanother indicator of how much downward pressure there is on budgets for liveaction feature films. The biggest project to film in Ireland so far this yearhas been Charles Sturridge's Lassie adaptation, budgeted at $15millionof which probably something shy of 50% was spent in Ireland while the balancewas spent in the Isle of Man and elsewhere in the UK.
Another project developed in the UK, Ken Loach's historicaldrama The Wind That Shook The Barley set during the Irish war ofindependence and its civil war aftermath, did shoot entirely on location inIreland. Both it and Lassie were co-produced by local outfit ElementFilms who have two of their own projects - Boy Eats Girl and Isolation- at the final stages of post-production.
Other offshore producers have scouted Ireland this year butthere has been little enough follow through except in the case of single dramasfor television which can avail of Ireland's Section 481 tax break. The latestof these, the Euros 1.3m drama An Ocean Apart by Robin Pilcher, willstart shooting for five weeks on location in Cork and Kerry for ZDF later thismonth. One theatrical feature, Amazing Grace, was being lined up toshoot in Ireland but went instead to the UK.
Onthe evidence of films likely to go into production in the coming months thereare two templates that seem to work for Irish producers right now.
For the higher end of the low budget spectrum there is aco-production model with partners in the UK and, possibly, Germany and/orScandanavia. This can entail shooting part of the film in either NorthernIreland or the Isle of Man, and the use of studios or postproduction facilitiesin Germany of Scandanavia. The downside to this financing method is that therecan be just a marginal net value to the Irish producers while Irish studios andpost-production services lose potential business.
At the lower end of the low budget spectrum there are thosefilms that receive a significant portion of their finance from the Irish FilmBoard, that shoot outside Dublin, get a small amount by way a presale advancefrom a local distributor and broadcaster, and where deferrals underwrite muchof the balance of the budget.
Both these templates can be both difficult and timeconsuming to put into operation and the evidence is that many Irish films whichare likely - not definitely - to be shooting over the coming months have beentwo or more years raising finance.
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