22 December 2016
By Elaine Murphy
2016 was a hugely successful year for the film industry in Cork and in particular Film In Cork, which provides production, location and training services to those working in film, television, and animation, with major productions like Star Wars and MAZE, filming in the region.
One of the most notable highlights of 2016 came in April which saw the decommissioned Cork Prison transformed into a movie set for the filming of MAZE, a feature film, due for release in 2017, starring Tom Vaughan-Lawlor and Barry Ward, on the infamous 1983 prison breakout of 38 IRA prisoners from HMP MAZE high security prison. Scenes were also filmed in various city centre locations. An Irish-Swedish co-production, MAZE received production funding from The Irish Film Board, Film Vast, RTE and BAI, with both Cork City Council and Cork County Council Arts Offices providing regional support.
The film was written and directed by Stephen Burke, a two time first prize winner of the Cork International Film Festival, and is produced by Jane Doolan of Mammoth Films and Brendan J Byrne of Cyprus Avenue Films. Speaking about their decision to choose Cork as the main location for filming, Line Producer, Steven Davenport said “With the assistance of the Irish Prison Services and helped by Film In Cork, offering on the ground support on both locations and skilled local crew in the Cork area, the prison itself was a perfect stand in for the notorious MAZE prison, offering unrivalled production value.”
Speaking about securing this major production for Cork, Rossa Mullin who runs Film in Cork said “We see Film In Cork playing a key role in helping position Cork on the national and international stage as a prime location for all types of production – film and television – and we were delighted that by working closely with the producers, it was possible to bring MAZE to Cork, which gives us a tremendous opportunity for us to showcase what Cork has to offer to an international audience, which can only be a great thing for the region.”
April was a busy month for Film In Cork, as it also saw it host Inside Cartoon Saloon, a one-day animation training event supported by Screen Training Ireland, with twice Academy Award and BAFTA nominated animation studio, Cartoon Saloon. This animation workshop, open to professionals, students and amateurs in the field of animation, provided a rare insight into the workings of the famous Irish animation studio.
Film In Cork’s popular Production Club series, sponsored by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) kicked off in 2016. On one evening each month the Production Club hosted industry experts, who offered invaluable insight to the participants attending. The Production Club, which ran from January to July, and returned again in September after a summer break, offered a tangible and accessible opportunity for the expansion of the production community in the region and was aimed at writers, directors and producers in Cork City and County.
The Production Club was kindly hosted in RTÉ Cork’s studio, an invaluable resource to Cork’s production community as there is constant production in the studio throughout the year, including series like ‘The Today Show’ and ‘Nationwide’. Commenting on this, Colm Crowley, Head of RTÉ Cork said “Here at RTÉ Cork, we were delighted to host Film In Cork’s monthly Production Club events. It is important, particularly for emerging talent, to see that this is an industry where focused hard work goes on, week in, week out, all year around; and we’re proud to say that nowhere demonstrates this better than RTÉ Cork’s studio.”
Commenting on the success of The Production Club, Rossa Mullin said “Having attracted considerable interest from Cork’s large pool of talented writers, directors and producers, the level of demand demonstrates the need for similar creative initiatives going forward. We are also particularly grateful to RTÉ Cork for so generously offering us a home for these monthly sessions.”
Film In Cork, through the support of the Arts Offices of Cork City and County Councils, last month announced details of the 2017 Short Script Award, a funding initiative, the first in the region since 2012, aimed at fostering creative and resourceful filmmaking in the Cork region. The winning project, which must be set and shot in Cork City and/or county, and will be selected from shortlisted entries in February 2017, will receive €8,000 towards the cost of production for the project, along with support in terms of locations, production, mentoring and planning the film’s festival release strategy over the course of a nine month period.
Speaking about the Short Script Award, Rossa Mullin said “The Short Script Award affords filmmakers in the region the chance to bring what are ideas on paper, to life on the big screen, which they may not ordinarily have the opportunity of doing. This would not be possible if it weren’t for the financial support from the Arts Offices in Cork City and Cork County Council, who have been an integral part of bringing this to fruition.”
Looking forward to 2017 Mullin concluded: “We look forward to continued growth for the industry in Cork city and county next year. We will continue to strive to promote and market the Cork region locally, nationally and internationally as a wonderful place to work, which was clearly evident through our 2016 success stories.”