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Ireland: Production of Pix, TV Drama, Toons Hits Record High

International high-end TV drama production generates $111 million

LONDON — Spending generated by film, TV drama and animation production in Ireland has never been higher, according to figures published Wednesday by the Irish Film Board, which supports the development of the local biz.

The Irish production sector pumped more than Euros 168 million ($231 million) into the local economy this year through the creation of jobs and spending on local goods and services, which is 18% up on 2012 and 42% higher than 2011.

The IFB invested Euros 7.5 million ($10.3 million) in film, television drama and toon projects, which enabled Irish producers to raise Euros 59.5 million ($81.9 million). It supported 12 Irish feature films, six international co-productions, 17 feature docus, two TV dramas and eight animated TV projects.

This year has seen significant growth in major international high-end TV drama production, the IFB reported. Production activity in this area has increased over the past two years from Euros 28 million ($38.5 million) in 2011 to Euros 81 million ($111 million) this year.

This was driven partly by the IFB’s International Production Fund, which helped bring “Ripper Street” and “Vikings” to Ireland. Both concluded a second season of filming in 2013. The first season of “Penny Dreadful,” which is also in receipt of coin from the fund, began production in Ireland this year, which was worth over Euros 33 million ($45.4 million) to the Irish economy.

Film projects supported by the IFB include those by established helmers Mary McGuckian (“The Price of Desire”), John Boorman (“Queen and Country”) and Ken Loach (“Jimmy’s Hall”); first-time feature directors Vivienne deCourcy (“Wild”), Brian O’Malley (“Let Us Prey”) and Lisa Mulcahy (“The Legend of Longwood”); and returning feature directors Ken Wardrop (“Gentlemen”), Niall Heery (“Gold”) and Terry McMahon (“Patrick’s Day”).

Production also began on the animation feature film “Song of the Sea” from the company behind the Academy Award nominated “The Secret of Kells.”

Irish animation TV producers at Cartoon Forum this year presented the highest number of IFB-backed animated series ever to financiers. These projects included “Puffin Rock,” narrated by Chris O’Dowd, which sold to Nickelodeon Junior.

Hot projects in the development pipeline with the IFB include “Glassland,” starring Jack Reynor (“Transformers,” “What Richard Did”) and Toni Collette, and directed by Gerard Barrett (“Pilgrim Hill”), and an adaptation of Colm Toibin’s “Brooklyn,” starring Domhnall Gleeson (“Sensation”) and Saoirse Ronan (“Byzantium”).

Irish films set for release next year include comedy “The Stag,” starring Andrew Scott, Hugh O’Conor and Amy Huberman, the sci-fi film “The Last Days on Mars,” directed by Ruairi Robinson, “Calvary,” starring Brendan Gleeson, and Lenny Abrahamson’s “Frank,” starring Domhnall Gleeson and Michael Fassbender. “Frank” and “Calvary” have their world premieres at Sundance.

James Hickey, chief executive of the Irish Film Board, said: “The availability of strong Irish talent and creativity across all aspects of the production cycle, as well as growing numbers of enterprising Irish production companies, are just two of the factors that are driving this upward trend and helping to build Ireland’s reputation in the global industry.

“There is no doubt that a supportive government policy and IFB investment are assisting Irish producers to compete internationally. Section 481 (the Irish tax incentive) has put Ireland on the map and the enhancements of this measure in the recent budget are welcomed.

“We anticipate that this will be the engine for additional growth in 2014 helping to further develop this high value, creative industry for Ireland.”

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