The reasons for coming to Ireland are as compelling as ever. “First of all, it’s our expertise in making productions,” says Steven Davenport, head of US production and partnerships at national development agency Screen Ireland. “We’ve been doing it for a long time. We’ve had our own local Irish industry, but we’ve also always serviced international work. What you’ve seen with the streamers is that they’re looking for places with that expertise.”
It also helps that Section 481, which offers a 32% tax credit, remains in place. This has been available for many years and is considered reliable and easy to use. From early 2024, the eligible expenditure cap per project is rising to $131.3m (€125m) from $73.5m (€70m). Additionally, the 2% regional uplift programme will close from 2024 to be replaced by a ‘creative clusters’ programme, of which the details have yet to be confirmed.
In late 2023, film and TV projects were continuing to head to Ireland. Ishana Shyamalan’s debut feature The Watchers, starring Dakota Fanning and produced by the director’s father M Night Shyamalan, recently finished shooting in Wicklow and Galway. And Sky Studios’ comedy drama Small Town, Big Story, directed by Chris O’Dowd, began shooting in late summer. Starring Christina Hendricks and Paddy Considine, it follows a big Hollywood movie arriving in a small Irish village.
Meanwhile, director Jim Sheridan is preparing doc-drama Re-creation, about the murder of French TV producer Sophie Toscan Du Plantier in County Cork in December 1996. The film, presented at Venice Film Festival’s recent gap-financing market, stars Vicky Krieps and is being made through Sheridan’s company Hell’s Kitchen with support from Joli Rideau Media. Film Fund Luxembourg, Screen Ireland and Eurimages are also on board.
Industry veteran Keith Potter was appointed head of film at Screen Ireland in early autumn 2023 with a mandate to continue growing the industry. The agency is expected to launch a new sustainability fund that will offer incentives to international filmmakers.
Universal’s hit comedy-thriller Cocaine Bear was also made in Wicklow, albeit set in Georgia in the US. “People can’t believe that was 90% shot in Ireland. We don’t just do Ireland for Ireland. We can do multiple genres and multiple styles,” says Davenport, who cites forests, modern cities, mountains, port towns and well-preserved historical settings as potential locations for filmmakers.
TV crime drama series Redemption, made by Tall Story Pictures for ITV, was shot largely around Dublin, while local crime drama Kin, made by Born Studios, has also been filming in the capital. Elsewhere, Small Things Like These, starring Cillian Murphy, an Irish production with backing from Actors Equity, also completed filming. Over the past decade, Netflix’s historical drama Vikings and its Vikings: Valhalla offshoot also filmed in the territory.
The Irish screen industry reported a record-breaking $525m (€500m) worth of production in 2021. In 2022, the production spend dipped to $379m (€361m), but this was still around $4.2m (€4m) higher than in 2019, the year before the pandemic hit. “International studios are still making productions but there has been a more cautious approach,” notes Davenport. “The frenzy we saw after Covid has calmed.”
Nonetheless there is still plenty of activity, with Joshua Oppenheimer’s The End, a European co-production with Screen Ireland funding, and Bad Sisters series two filming. Screen Ireland has also launched a regional fund — international productions can apply and receive up to $790,000 (€750,000) in backing on top of the tax credit.
First person to contact: Steven Davenport, head of US production and partnerships, Screen Ireland: firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of an intense focus on the regions, Screen Ireland has also launched crew development hubs in Galway, Limerick and Wicklow to expand the crew base and guard against skills shortages.
Strong production facilities are found at Ardmore, Ashford and Troy Studios (the largest and one of the newest in Ireland). International producers should have little problem finding local partners and fixers, with around 300 production companies in the territory. Among the most prominent service producers are Wild Atlantic Pictures and Metropolitan.
Ireland’s film industry benefits from the country’s booming tourist sector; hotels are easy to find. There are plenty of seasoned technicians, some of whom have worked in the industry for decades. Ireland also has several well-equipped studios including Ardmore, Ashford and Troy Studios in Limerick. Last year, Ardmore added a 22,000 square foot stage to its offering. There is also a growing VFX sector. Some high-profile projects — The Mandalorian, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Stranger Things among them — have used facilities such as SSVFX (which also has outposts in Los Angeles and London), Screenscene, Windmill Lane, Egg VFX and others.
Travel and logistics
Ireland is compact in size (just under 33,000 square miles) and easy to access. The capital Dublin is located next to sea and mountainscapes, and within easy access of Ardmore and Ashford studios. Most locations in Ireland are accessible from Dublin within hours. Transport links are strong. Different locations are generally within easy reach of each other.
Ireland is a member of the European Union but opted out of the Schengen Agreement. Its currency is the euro.