Great news! Cahir Castle in Co. Tipperary has won this year’s European Film Commissions Network (EUFCN) Location Award 2021. Cahir Castle was one of the primary filming locations for David Lowery’s The Green Knight, produced by A24 and Wild Atlantic Pictures, filmed in Ireland in 2019. Traditionally County Tipperary is not a county that has witnessed a lot of filmmaking in recent decades. The Green Knight, the Last Duel with Matt Damon, quickly followed this also shot in the historic town of Cahir, as was Stella Days with Martin Sheen in 2010. Besides Tipperary, other counties in the South West have seen a massive surge in filmmaking since 2018. There are a few factors that may be behind this surge. Troy studios opened its doors to film and TV production in 2017 and quickly landed a high-end Sci-fi TV series for Netflix. The Irish Government offered an additional 5% tax relief to entice film producers to the regions. However, with Ireland in lockdown for two years, it’s difficult to say what the true potential of this tax break could have been. Unfortunately, this incentive will run out in 2 years, and at this point, it’s unlikely to be extended. The third point is local training; a tremendous amount of work has been done in the past five years to reorganise and restructure how training is undertaken for the film sector. Screen Skills Ireland and Screen Ireland has and continues to develop their training base and the number of courses for the East Coast but also with a keen eye on the regions. It offers to new entrants and upskills existing crews to enable them to adapt to changes within the sector.
During my time in Troy Studios, Limerick, we successfully developed a new studio in a region without previous history of filmmaking; in tandem, we focused on creating a local crew base to fill those roles. Limerick is fortunate to have three excellent third level colleges with over 7,000 students engaged in creative studies, and that was our first point of call. Screen Skills Ireland and Limerick and Clare Educational Training Board facilitated the development of several short-term courses to enable the local crew to get a foot on the ladder within the sector. Our success can be measured when the first production finally arrived; we had a local crew database with various skills that translated into 30% of the overall crew on that first production.
Troy Studios quickly established its credentials with international producers that our facilities were on par with any film studios in North America. It started a ripple effect, and very soon, more and more producers were making enquiries about the region, not just for studio-based work, as they knew there was a crew base. For the first time outside Dublin/Wicklow and Galway, the Mid-West was a new region where film production was possible. Having a large established studio in an area creates a lot of trainee’s roles on high-end TV dramas with budgets above 50 million; however, it is difficult to make that jump from a trainee role to an assistant or a full HOD. To bridge that gap crew, need experience working on several medium budget film or TV production where there is an opportunity to broaden your skillset.
Success breeds success, and soon, medium and lower budget productions were scouting the region with the knowledge that a skilled crew could be found in the area. Since 2018 at least 11 TV/film dramas have been produced in the Mid-West, providing an estimated additional €15 to 20 million to the local economy. Local crews have continued to work in the region while others have gone on to work on the production in Dublin and Belfast and continue to develop skills and experience. In due course, those local crew will eventually be moving into more senior roles in production in Troy Studios. With a pipeline of high-end productions continuing to arrive in Troy Studio within the next five years, it should be possible to reach a point where 70% of all crew at Troy studios are local crew. Very recently, a significant financial investment was announced to develop a permanent regional film Training Hub in Limerick with the support of Screen Skills Ireland and Film Limerick. The future is bright for the sector in the Mid-West, and other regions in Ireland can replicate this success. Thumbs up to the Locations Departments who scout and secure these amazing locations.
A list of TV and features shot in the Mid-West in the past five years. (1) Smother (RTE) TV Drama (3 seasons) in Clare. (2) The Martini Shot (US Feature) in County Clare and Limerick, (3) The Green Knight (US Feature)– partly shot in Tipperary. (4) The Last Duel (US Feature)– partly shot in Tipperary. (5) Clueless (German/Irish TV feature) in Clare. (6) As Luck Would Have (Hallmark, Canada) partly shot in county Clare. (7) The Intruder – (Chanel 5) TV series partly shot in county Clare (8) Kin – RTE TV drama partly shot in Clare (9) Hidden Assets – (Belgium/Irish TV) series in County Clare and Limerick. (10) Joyride (Feature with Oliva Colman in Kerry.