The Irish film industry has been relatively insulated from the country’s drastic austerity program designed to alleviate its national debt crisis. The government sees film, and the audiovisual sector in general, as a vital growth industry to help rescue the economy. The country’s financial woes have reduced the costs of shooting there.

The Section 481 tax breaks are been confirmed until at least 2015, allowing film or TV producers to reclaim up to 28% of their costs on the first day of shooting, capped at $65 million of qualifying expenditure in Ireland. Ireland also renewed its involvement in the Euro co-production program Eurimages, and signed a co-prod treaty with Luxembourg.

The Irish Film Board’s budget for production and distribution support has been reduced by 14.9% to $17.3 million in 2012, but that’s far less severe than the cuts to other government departments.

The IFB has restructured its funds, relaunching the Creative Co-production support for Irish producers to become minority partners in international projects shooting in Ireland.

Studios & facilities

Ashford Studios: The opening of Ashford Studios in Ballykenny this summer will give Ireland a major production facility less than an hour from Dublin, with three state-of-the-art soundstages including one at 30,000 sq. ft. The studios has been designed in consultation with veteran producer Morgan O’Sullivan and the heads of his heads of departments, and its first production will be O’Sullivan’s latest mega-series “The Vikings.”

Ardmore Studios: But the launch of Ashford has cast a shadow over nearby Ardmore, which has been Ireland’s only studio for the past half-century. Ardmore’s owners say the competition from Ashford might force them to close the facility if they can’t raise finance to keep going. Meanwhile, the extension of the U.K. film tax break to include big-budget TV shows will also be a significant threat to Irish facilities.

Post & vfx

The newly created digital vfx unit of Dublin post house Windmill Lane has just finished work on its first project, the EuropaCorp sci-fi movie “Lockout” by Irish commercials duo James Mather and Stephen St. Leger.

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