First-class studio space, top talent, choice locations and tax incentives lure Hollywood filmmakers.
How has Ireland’s film scene evolved over the last decade?
Steven Davenport: Just look to the Academy Awards this year, with a record 14 Irish nominations, and you’ll see the impact that a country like Ireland has in front of – and behind – the camera. In addition to an acting cast that is known globally, we have an incredibly skilled crew base of producers, writers, directors and behind-the-scenes talent across all aspects of production. In 2022, the Irish film industry worked with Disney, Netflix, Apple TV+, Amazon, Warner Bros and NBC Universal and many other international partners. Interestingly, Ireland was the first place that an American filmmaking studio produced an on-location movie, The Lad from Old Ireland, a silent film released in 1910. Ireland has a long tradition of international filmmaking and coproduction.
Ivan Houlihan: The Irish screen industry has quadrupled in size over the last decade. 2022 recorded €360M production spend in the Irish economy across film, television drama, documentary and animation production, while 2021 recorded a record-breaking spend of €500 million – a 40% increase on the previous record set in 2019. We hear from US producers and crews that our experienced production crews, increasing supply of first-class studio space and diverse locations contribute to the growing symbiotic relationship between the two countries.
Can you offer details around some of this year‘s award-winning projects and their filming in Ireland?
Davenport: It’s been a very exciting year for Ireland and film. In all, Irish productions received 150 awards and nominations in the past year, and an additional 14 Oscar nominations last month. The black comedy, The Banshees of Inisherin, took nine nods, including Best Picture, Best Director (Martin McDonagh) and Best Original Screenplay. Irish actors Colin Farrell (Best Actor), Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan were also nominated for their roles in Banshees. Paul Mescal of Kildare, who played a struggling father in Aftersun, is also up for Best Actor.
An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl), the first ever Irish nomination for the Oscars and highest-grossing Irish-language film of all time, was shortlisted for Best International Feature Film. An Irish Goodbye, produced by Belfast’s Tom Berkeley and Ross White, is up for Best Live Action Short. Behind the scenes, visual effects artist Richard Baneham and editor Jonathan Redmond were nominated for their work on Avatar: the Way of Water and Elvis, respectively.
Why is Ireland a key place for filmmakers?
Davenport: Experienced crews with a wealth of talent in front and behind the camera, diverse and dramatic locations that offer a variety of genres and back drops (in the film Cocaine Bear, Ireland doubled for Georgia), world-class infrastructure and equipment, sound stages, animation and VFX studios – all are reasons for Ireland being home to some of the biggest production worldwide.
What are some of the benefits of filming in Ireland?
Houlihan: For US film and television producers, one big advantage is our strong tax credit and consistent government support in supporting the industry. Ireland’s tax incentive is worth 32% with an additional 2% regional uplift, making it one of the best in Europe,.
Ireland has a growing base of international gaming companies, including studios like Blizzard and Riot Games, and a tremendous talent pool.
Davenport: Many of our film and TV production facilities have been expanding in the last few years. Ardmore Studios, which has been around since the 1950s, added 20,000 square feet of stage space. Ashford Studios, which was central to the History Channel’s long-running Vikings series, is underconstruction on phase 2 which consists of another 170,000 square feet of additional sound stages. Troy Studios in Limerick, the largest studio production facility in Ireland and home to the original Nightflyers for NBC and two seasons of Apple’s Foundation, significantly enlarged its soundstage space. The MBS Group just started construction on Greystones Media Campus, a €300m movie and TV studio scheduled to open in 2024 that will add 270,000 square feet of sound stages.
Ireland is also a safe and nice place to visit, with international cast and crews happy to locate in Ireland for productions. Of course, there is also the warm welcome from the Irish people to filmmakers and creatives.
What locations should filmmakers seek out in Ireland?
Davenport: Ireland’s stunning scenery has been a backdrop for some of the biggest productions in the industry, such as Normal People, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Enchanted. That said, there are lots of undiscovered areas suitable for every type of filming.
About 30,000 castles and castle ruins are peppered across the country. Places like the 5,000-acre, 250-year-old Luggala Estate in Wicklow Valley just outside Dublin have doubled for Scotland, Canada and other locations. More recently, Luggala was the site of the Vikings harbor. Cahir Castle, perched on the River Suir and dating to the 1300s, has been featured in a number of American films, including Braveheart, The Last Duel and The Green Knight. Most of Banshees was filmed on Achill Island and Inishmore off Ireland’s west coast, while An Cailín Ciúin was filmed in Dublin and County Meath.
Can you share some best practices and insider secrets for successful filming in Ireland?
Davenport: Take a look at everywhere in Ireland. It’s easy to limit your search to the Dublin/Wicklow side of the country, but first-class space like Troy Studios in Limerick offer opportunities that are equally amazing. As well, we have other financial supports there. Stay open because because we’re incredibly diverse. Ireland’s a small place. It’s only two hours east to west on the motorway.
If a filmmaker has an idea for a project, we’re happy to talk with them and explain all the benefits of filming in Ireland. We have a database on our Screen Ireland website with over 25,000 Images, so take a look a see what Ireland has to offer.
How can US film makers get in touch?
Davenport: If you are interested in Irish opportunities for filming, animation or post production work please contact Steven.email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Houlihan: To get in touch with IDA email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
LA-based Steven Davenport is head of US Production & Partnerships with Screen Ireland, where he is responsible for assisting international producers and studios to locate production in Ireland and the promotion of Irish talent internationally. Davenport worked as a nationally and internationally recognised line producer, production manager and location manager with 25 years’ experience across the Screen Industry.
Ivan Houlihan heads up the Western US Territory for IDA Ireland and is based in Silicon Valley in California. He oversees activities in 11 Western states and a team of 14. During his almost 20 years with IDA Ireland, he has also been Vice President of IDA’s Boston and Atlanta offices, and a business development executive in IDA’s offices throughout Ireland including, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Athlone.