Irish Film: The Irish Film Board looks back on a successful 2014

Yesterday Bord Scannán na hÉireann / Irish Film Board (IFB), the national development agency for the Irish film, television and animation industry, published details of all IFB supported productions undertaken in Ireland in 2014. The IFB invited a large number of the industry’s creative talent including screenwriters, directors, producers and actors to celebrate this publication, which was available to all attendees.

Over the last twelve months, Irish films, documentaries and animation have received strong international recognition for excellence, have broken production activity records for the third year running, have connected with critics and audiences at home and abroad with positive box office figures, new distribution channels and strong international sales achieved. Anybody who has been following Scannain over the last year will be very aware of this as we ourselves posted over 500 articles in relation to Irish film in 2014.

The overall figures for the industry in 2014 show that production activity for the independent film, television drama and animation sector has increased to €195 million in 2014, reaching the highest production activity levels on record for the third year running. This is an increase of 6.5% on 2013 production activity levels and 37% on 2012. Bord Scannán na hÉireann/ Irish Film Board invested just under €10 million generating production expenditure of over €42 million in relation to IFB funded projects last year. These figures represent the Irish expenditure for all projects which went into production in 2014 in the categories of independent film, TV drama, animation and feature documentary only.

Speaking at the event, James Hickey, Chief Executive of the IFB said: “2014 was another strong year for the Irish film, television and animation industry with production activity levels breaking records for the third year running. Despite budget restrictions, Irish producers, writers, directors and actors have approached these new productions in a creative manner bringing Irish stories to the big and small screen. Irish films, documentaries and animation deliver a value to the State from a cultural as well as an economic perspective which is immeasurable. 2014 was also a year when we witnessed and participated in national public debate about the value and quality of Irish film. This is a positive debate to have and I am proud that the creative output from the sector speaks for itself. The quality and range of Irish films, documentaries and animation supported by the IFB continues to improve and are gaining increased distribution and recognition outside of Ireland. This is helping to support our objective of keeping Irish film culture telling Irish stories on screen at the heart of Irish life”

In 2014 the IFB supported fifteen Irish feature films, eleven creative feature co-productions, eleven short films, four feature documentaries, two TV dramas and four animated TV projects.

2014 saw high levels of foreign direct investment with a large number of high-profile film and TV productions filming on location in Ireland. Major TV productions including the third series of Vikings and Ripper Street, as well as a second series of Penny Dreadful all continued production here. The forthcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens also chose Ireland as a film location, using the stunning backdrop of Skellig Michael off the coast of Co. Kerry.

Irish films telling important Irish stories were also a success at home with eighteen Irish films released in Irish cinemas in 2014. Calvary took over €1.6 million at the Irish box office and The Stag made more than its total budget at the Irish box office taking €600,000, with both films receiving much critical acclaim. The total box office for Irish films increased this year in the Irish market which compares favourably for domestic content in domestic markets with other English language territories outside North America.

2014 was a successful year for the international sales of Irish films. Calvary was picked up for worldwide distribution and other Irish titles which performed well include The Stag, The Canal, Jimmy’s Hall, Ooops! Noah is Gone and Song of the Sea.

The IFB is the largest funder of the Irish animation industry in the state, investing in both animated films and television series for young children. IFB supported projects in film animation this year included Song of The Sea, directed by Tomm Moore, based on Irish folklore and stories which will be released in Irish cinema in July. The IFB supported short film Coda is also on the long-list for Oscar glory. The feature film The Breadwinner is in the pipeline.

Successful preschool animated TV shows, developed and produced in Ireland, include Wildernuts produced by Kavaleer which showcased at Annecy this year and Puffin Rock starring the voice of Chris O’Dowd and produced by Cartoon Saloon which was broadcast on RTÉjr earlier this week.