Film in Belfast - A Personal Reflection
NIFTC's Richard Williams shares his thoughts
This article appears as part of the Creative Belfast Showcase, which took place at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast during February 2006.
There are certain pairings which remain in the psyche long after they’re useful - and which you could be forgiven for being unable to separate: strawberries and cream,cheese ‘n’ onion, Morecambe and Wise; film and Hollywood... But if you think that the film industry is the sole remit of Tinseltown, then you’re missing out on what’s happening right under your nose.
The production community in Northern Ireland is buzzing right now. At the end of 2005, 48 Angels, In Like Flynn and Middletown all finished shooting, to be followed early this year by Shrooms, Puffball and Sin Spree... that’s 6 films in as many months! The positive economic and cultural impact that these productions have on Northern Ireland cannot be ignored.
An incredible pool of talent, from Northern Ireland companies such as Green Park, New Moon, Borderline and Hot Shot, is working with international names of the calibre of Tim Robbins, Sarah Polley, Matthew MacFadyen, Donald Sutherland and Nicholas Roeg, while our indigenous festivals - Cinemagic, Foyle and Belfast - are attracting premieres and gala screenings and enjoying unprecedented audience figures.
Co-productions with big-names outfits such as Ecosse Films (makers of Mrs Brown and Charlotte Gray), Endemol and El Deseo (legendary Spanish director Almodóvar’s company) could well become commonplace.
The press often asks - why do film companies come here? Well, why wouldn’t they? The NIFTC has fought for years for a decent level of funding in order to help the film and television production sector. That’s now paying off. Plus, Northern Ireland has a lot to offer in terms of locations and facilities and our crews are well-known for their enthusiasm and generosity of spirit.
In distribution terms, Breakfast on Pluto from Oscar®- winning director Neil Jordan is currently screening and Johnny Was, Wilderness and The Secret Life of Words - which all shot here last year, are still to hit the big screen.
So where have you been if all you have to look forward to is Big Momma’s House 2?
By Richard Williams
Northern Ireland Film & Television Commission