Fís Éireann / Screen Ireland

Screen Ireland announces return to live-action film & television production planning update and launches new initiatives and mentorships

Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland has issued an update on the return to production for the industry and has announced new mentorships via Screen Skills Ireland with high profile mentors and new initiatives aimed at actors.

The Irish Government report ‘Economic Considerations for Reinstating Economic Activity’, sets out that the earliest that live film production might recommence would be Phase 3, (29th June) of the Government’s five-stage plan, subject to approval.  However, there are a wide number of challenging key practical issues that must be addressed including insurance, health and safety protocols and travel restrictions, prior to production activity going ahead, as is the case with production activity around the world.

Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland’s key priority is to support a safe return to production for Irish film and television drama in line with the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business. The agency is proactively planning for recovery and has been working with a broad range of industry stakeholders and Government, to help facilitate an industry-wide collaborative approach for the return of live-action film and television production. Screen Ireland has also been working closely with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to ensure that production activity is allowed to recommence as soon as it is safe and practical to do so, and to crucially help retain the industry’s talented creative workforce.  

The Screen Ireland Covid-19 Sub-Committee has been working together with industry stakeholders. Initial meetings have included Animation Ireland, Screen Producers Ireland, Visual Effects Association Ireland, Commercials Producers Ireland, Screen Guilds of Ireland, SIPTU and Equity to address key issues and further support measures required.  Screen Producers Ireland is currenting guidance drafting health and safety production protocols in consultation with key industry stakeholders to help define best practices, noting that each production will have their own specific requirements. It is expected that these will be delivered by mid-June. The Covid-19 Sub-Committee aims to respond to the ongoing needs of the industry as they arise during the pandemic with upcoming meetings focusing on key policy recommendations, local and international production, distribution and exhibition. 

Throughout the crisis, Screen Ireland has introduced a wide range of key support measures for the Irish screen industries, to ensure that the industry will emerge in a strong position to return to production activity as soon as it is safe to do so.   The agency is also pleased to announce details of a new ‘The Actor as Creator’ initiative to showcase Irish acting talent in partnership with Bow Street, with the support of Equity. The ‘Actor as Creator’ is a new initiative designed to create a diverse range of work from unique creative voices within the Irish screen acting community.

The scheme is designed to promote and invest in Irish screen acting talent, during a time when social distancing measures are affecting traditional production activity. This talent development and promotion initiative will showcase the unique creative voices of 30 actors to create a short filmic work that expresses their creative vision. The scheme is open to experienced screen actors and successful recipients will originate, perform and produce the short filmic work.

Screen Skills Ireland, the skills development unit within Screen Ireland, is also launching a new structured mentoring scheme, Screen Mentoring. Over 100 Irish and international industry professionals from the film, TV, animation, VFX and Immersive Technology sectors have signed up to be mentors for the scheme to give something back to the industry by sharing their knowledge and experience. This scheme will support 50 mentees to avail of mentor support throughout 2020.

Mentors who have signed up to the scheme include Lenny Abrahamson (‘Normal People’), Michael Zam (‘Feud: Bette and Joan’), Ed Guiney (Element Pictures), Cathal Gaffney (Brown Bag Films), Colum Slevin (Facebook AR/VR), Shannon George (‘Blues Clues’), Jo Homewood (‘Black ‘47’), Gilly Fogg (‘Bob The Builder’), Paul Walker (‘EastEnders’), Lisa Mulcahy (‘Years and Years’), Grainne Humphreys (VMDIFF), Alix Wiseman (9 Story), and Patrick O’Neill (Wildcard Distribution). Mentors will provide support across the areas of Business & Producing, Production, Creative & Development and Distribution & Festivals.

I’m delighted to be part of the Screen Mentoring initiative. When I started off in the film & TV industry, which happened to be in the UK, I was mentored by a number of prominent production designers… I wish to pay it forward, as they generously gave me advice and experience which has proven to be invaluable.

Award-winning Production Designer and industry mentor, Tom Conroy (‘Vikings’, ‘Tudors’, ‘Intermission’)

We’re delighted to introduce this new Screen Mentoring initiative. Mentoring is a proven way of supporting career progression and this scheme will allow upcoming talent to enhance their development with guidance and support from experienced professionals.

Gareth Lee, Manager – Screen Skills Ireland

The Screen Mentoring scheme will provide screen professionals with mentoring support at key stages in their career development that will encompass business, creative and/or technical mentoring. Mentors will offer their mentees practical, tailored advice and guidance based on their industry experience, on a one to one basis. The mentoring will be offered remotely online due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19.

With a panel of key industry mentors now assembled, Screen Skills Ireland is looking for applications from mentees who are seeking the support and guidance of a mentor to learn and grow professionally. In order to apply for the scheme, prospective mentees should visit www.screenmentoring.ie and complete the online application form.

The scheme is open to industry professionals working in the Irish screen sector with a minimum of three year’s full-time relevant experience. Diversity and inclusion will be factored into the selection process for all mentees. All mentoring will be offered remotely online due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19 restrictions.

Screen Skills Ireland will also be extending free online training courses until the end of July. Screen Skills has delivered over 29 courses online for free to over 490 screen sector professionals over the last seven weeks.  The ‘Screen Talks’ webinar series has had 12 guests so far with 1,063 live attendees in total for the 12 Screen Talks. The webinars are also recorded and uploaded to the Screen Skills Ireland Screen Talks Vimeo channel.

I want to thank Screen Ireland for the leadership that they have provided in the midst of this crisis and acknowledge its prompt action in introducing early supports, particularly those geared to aiding production companies and creative talent in developing a strong slate of quality projects. I would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate Element Pictures on  the runaway success of ‘Normal People’ which was one of the first projects supported by Screen Ireland’s TV Drama Production funding scheme launched in 2019 and is a testament to the creativity and potential within the sector. I look forward to continued engagement with the sector to ensure production resumes in line with the public health guidance.”

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan TD