The Board and Executive of Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland (FÉ/SI) is the national development agency for Irish filmmaking and the Irish film, television and animation industry. (Screen Ireland) recognise the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the industry. As it continues to create unprecedented levels of disruption across the Irish and international creative screen sector, Screen Ireland’s key priority is to provide practical and effective funding measures to support production companies and creative talent, across feature film, TV drama, animation and documentary.
The Irish creative screen industries have grown significantly over the last ten years in terms of employment and economic contribution. Screen Ireland’s key priority is to support the sector during this critical time, to ensure that Irish creative screen talent can continue to play a key role within Irish cultural life and make a critical contribution to rebuilding the economy when this crisis is over.
Building on a number of early initial measures announced last month, Screen Ireland has continued to monitor the situation and is today announcing a further round of stimulus measures to support the sector. These new measures include practical supports and are designed to aid production companies and creative talent in developing a strong slate of quality projects, so that the industry can emerge from the current situation in a position to scale up production activity.
These measures include:
- Strategic Slate Development Fund
- Enhanced Development Support
- Creative Concept Development Scheme
- Enhanced Investment in Screenplay & Spotlight Schemes
- Financial Planning for Companies
- Funding Schemes for Skills Development
Strategic Slate Development Fund
The Strategic Slate Development Fund aims to empower successful applicants to build a strong slate of creative screen projects. Originally announced earlier this year, this Strategic Slate Development Fund has been enhanced and customised to respond to the challenges the global pandemic presents.
The fund is valued at up to €3 million and aims to support strategic slate project development with strong creative ambition and a focus on diversity and inclusion. Screen Ireland is aiming to support production companies, working closely with screenwriters and directors with strong creative vision to develop their own IP.
The Strategic Slate Development Fund will come from Screen Ireland’s 2020 capital budget allocation for slate funding and has been increased by €2 million in response to the impact of the global pandemic. In order to address growing cash flow challenges the fund will be made available as quickly as possible and over a one year period. This shortened timeframe will also allow Screen Ireland to respond to the anticipated increased need for production funding in 2021, as a result of low production levels in 2020 due to Covid-19.
Enhanced Development Support
Screen Ireland will also provide an additional €1 million in enhanced development support across feature film, TV and animation, which will be available to Irish production companies working with writers on a project by project basis, where the Strategic Slate Funding Scheme does not apply. 90% of this funding will be made available upfront for successful applicants.
Creative Concept Development Scheme for Directors
A new creative conceptual development fund will be made available directly to Irish directors aimed at investing in the early vision of a director to develop high value, well refined projects for feature film and television. The scheme aims to generate exceptional screen work with the early creative leadership of a director and refined development before bringing it to a producer or financier. At the end of this process, directors will have created a proof of concept for a feature film or television show ready to take to a producer or to the market.
Enhanced Investment in Screenplay & Spotlight Schemes
Screen Ireland is committed to supporting writers directly in the form of an additional €100K total investment into the Screenplay Development and the Spotlight writing schemes. The Spotlight scheme, is aimed at discovering and developing diverse, fresh and exciting new screenwriting talent in Ireland. The scheme is intended as an opportunity for new writers to develop a feature film screenplay, with guidance and mentorship from leading industry figures at the very beginning of their careers. Screenplay Development supports experienced writers/directors to write a live action or animated feature film from initial idea stage in the form of treatments or early script draft to a viable first draft screenplay.
Financial Planning Support
Screen Ireland will also be making a line of funding available for companies in need of urgent financial planning support as a result of the challenges caused by this pandemic. This new initiative will provide funding to enable production companies to develop a financial plan with the advice of a financial consultant. The fund is worth up to €150K, with companies able to apply for a maximum of €5K.
Funding Schemes for Skills Development
Screen Skills Ireland has repurposed two of its funding schemes. The Festivals and Events Funding Scheme has been repurposed as a Skills Development Events Funding Scheme, which will assist Irish organisations and film festivals to provide online industry events including masterclasses, workshops, panel discussions, and seminars. The International Bursary Award Scheme has been repurposed as a Bursary Award Scheme to support industry professionals to undertake high-level online skills development courses.
Screen Skills Ireland will also introduce two new funding schemes. The Screen Mentoring Funding Scheme will support industry professionals to access Mentor support over a 12-month period. The Stakeholders & Guilds Funding Scheme will support screen stakeholders and guilds to deliver a range of skills related activity over the course of a year.
Screen Ireland is committed to developing projects which are inclusive and representative of contemporary Ireland. As such, the organisation strongly encourages applications across all funds and schemes from those with diverse voices and underrepresented backgrounds. Funding for all Screen Ireland support measures will be allocated from Screen Ireland’s 2020 capital budget.
Screen Ireland has developed this range of measures, alongside the Government’s financial support package for employers, employees, self-employed and cast and crew affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has a dedicated helpdesk for queries about these income supports. If you are a member of the Irish audio-visual industry and are experiencing challenges accessing these financial supports, Screen Ireland encourages you to get in touch directly with the Department, sending an email to email@example.com with a short description of your question along with your telephone number. An official will contact you as soon as possible to discuss your query.
During these exceptionally challenging times, Screen Ireland will continue to assess the ongoing needs of the broader industry and is establishing a COVID-19 Industry Sub-Committee as they plan for industry recovery. They recognise that there is much more to be done, and are continuously working with industry partners and stakeholders to help mitigate the impact of this crisis on the industry.
Please contact Screen Ireland with any COVID-19 related queries or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org
Further details and guidelines on the strategic development fund are currently available on the Screen Ireland website www.screenireland.ie
Further information and details of the skills development funding are currently available on the Screen Skills website https://www.screenskillsireland.ie.
Previous measures introduced by Screen Ireland to help the sector during this crisis have also been updated below:
- 90% funding is being provided upfront on all development loans to Irish screenwriters and production companies through to 31st May 2020.
- Existing development and production loan offers which are due to expire in the coming months are being extended to 31st May 2020.
- Additional marketing and distribution support has been provided for upcoming Irish film and TV releases during this period.
- A range of skills development opportunities is being provided for industry practitioners, with Screen Skills Ireland delivering some of its planned activity for 2020 online free-of-charge over the next 6-10 weeks.