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April 16, 2024

What Contributed to Ireland’s Creative Boom?

The film industry in Ireland sees a vibrant landscape, with increasing recognition, participation, investments and funds spurring the growth. By Ching Wai.

Ireland - The country has produced a notable amount of talent and creative content, and shows no signs of stopping. Rather, government funds are increasing and projects are lining up to be produced and released. Ireland’s screen industry bounced back after COVID in 2021 with a generative local spend of $547 million. With experienced crews, generous tax incentives, and a variety of versatile locations, recognition and promotion come naturally as Ireland receives more praise for its ideal conditions for film production.

In 2023, Ireland had a record number of nominations for its films. The Irish Goodbye became the first-ever Irish-language International Oscar nominee. An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) and The Banshees of Inisherin were nominated for a record 14 Academy Awards. So far, projects from Ireland have received 12 nominations this year. This includes awards for Cillian Murphy (Oscars) and Irish studio Element Pictures’ co-production Poor Things (shot by nominated Dubliner Robbie Ryan). Irish films were also featured at film festivals like the Sundance Film Festival and the Berlinale. Bad Sisters director Dearbhla Walsh observed a rise in Irish accents in film, and not just on the Irish screen. Walsh said, “[p]eople aren’t making excuses now… Now when the accent pops up in an international story, it has really positive connotations, whereas maybe it hasn’t before.”

Ireland’s landscapes entice local and international filmmakers alike. However, what really sells the location to filmmakers to choose Ireland for their films would be the country’s unique business mindset and the funding provided to creative endeavours. Elaine Geraghty, the managing director of Ardmore Studios and Troy Studios, said that “it does come with being an island nation. It’s a tight community — everybody in the screen industry knows each other. That’s really helpful when you’re trying to get business in and make sure people have the best experience.” Homegrown producer Rob Walpole echoed this sentiment, observing that “[i]t’s really only in the last 20 years that we’ve been able to develop the kind of infrastructure to support today’s level of activity. That brings with it a certain level of drive, freshness and enthusiasm. As a Director of Production coming here, you’ll find there’s a real energy, from the very top down to people who are just beginning their careers.”

Significant investments and government fundings of late are projected to revitalise the Irish film scene. Screen Ireland has a record-breaking $42 million budget for 2024. Its financial support is inclusive of debut film talents as well. In 2023, the production company created a pilot prototype fund for game development, supported by the government’s Digital Games Tax Credit. A €300 million ($327 million) studio, Greystones Media Campus will open this year. Ardmore Studios is constructing three new sound stages. The government allowance for producers to claim back 32% of any spend on film, television and animation has increased from $75 million to $134 million. This comes as the government sees value in the film industry, especially with the huge amount of employment.

From investments in people to programmes to infrastructure, the government and production companies alike in Ireland are evidently growing the country’s creative landscape and cultivating a thriving film hub. It requires the hearts and efforts of everyone to achieve a rich and vibrant audiovisual industry - Ireland’s past and present are a testament to that. It might be beneficial for similarly geographically small countries to observe and learn from the breakthrough that Ireland is currently experiencing.

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