Limerick Film Making Needs Collaboration and Support

Posted: June 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

As the good weather arrives once again and the urge to capture stories, action and imagination takes hold of film makers young and old alike, there is a need for reflection on the current state of resources for the film makers in our cultural rich city.

While there is an insurgence of interest in the mid-west due to the arrival of Troy Studios, and their first collaboration with the producers of the Nightflyers series, I do feel that there’s maybe not enough support for the novice, students and even freelance professional filmmakers so that they can aspire to the levels that is expected by Troy and Nightflyers.

Why so? Well you can only compare to the other urban areas around Limerick such as Galway, awarded the 2020 City of Culture as well as a UNESCO city for film, which has a Film centre, the Oscar affiliated Galway Film Fleadh as well as a rich television, film and media industry in the city and county with the likes of TG4 studios and Telegael. Galway has been very attractive for students to study in the field of film making with NUIG Huston Film School also located within walking distance to the central hub.

While Limerick also has a strong student population with third level educational institutions offering courses from Fine Art, Journalism, Music Technology as well as Creative Broadcast and Film Production there is a lack of outside support in the form of a film centre or hub venue where communities can meet on a daily basis.

There were numerous attempts to get one off the ground, including ‘The Royal‘ which would have supported a couple of medium sized cinema screens for film, as well as a training centre and equipment hire facilities for the film making community, however due to lack of visible backing from the local authorities and business community along with other road blocks (mainly financial, this idea remains just that, an idea, and an opportunity lost.

While the Belltable is considered the closest thing Limerick has to an Arts Centre and screens Irish films through their collaboration with the IFI in Dublin, it is under the control for commercial use by The Limetree Theatre. The venue itself would be fine but having a screening venue is not enough. Film makers need a base from which to work from not a theatre space at a cost ( that most new film makers can’t afford) which is also limited by the other commercial demands and requirements of the space.

So what to do! Well the answer maybe in with collaboration with the higher educational bodies of our city and county whose resources are already in place and in most would be under utilised during the holiday periods when the students have left for the summer break. Three areas can be identified through the requirements film makers have;

  1. Training support – as technology changes and updates in the industry, the pressure for an unemployed film maker to keep up to date with it becomes increasingly difficult. Reading about the equipment on the web is once thing but to actually have some training with the equipment or software at a price base that is affordable would be a huge advantage. Also there is an opportunity for these educational bases to become hubs for the film makers as they attempt to complete their short films or other projects. This would also create a better position for the educators to create a community and culture of film and broadcast making in the city and county as well as future cohorts on their respective undergraduate programmes in the new academic year.
  2. Information and Resources – While there have been networking websites for film makers in Limerick in the past, there is a lack of an up-to-date (a “GO TO”) website for the Limerick region. While there are Facebook pages run by groups such as LACE Film Strand and previously Behind The Scenes (since disbanded) there is a lack current information resource pages for the Limerick film community. Since the coming of Troy Studios there has also been the introduction of the ‘FILM IN LIMERICK’ website. While this was an exciting addition to the community (created in conjunction with Innovate Limerick) there is little in the way of updates. In fact the website has not changed in its content since it was introduced over a year ago. In order to keep the ideas and events fresh this content needs to be updated and flowing each week. Educational institutions have the power to influence here also. With lecturers and trainers required to be in contact with industry on a regular bases there are opportunities for them to be either involved in the ‘Film in Limerick’ website through collaboration or to create a new one (maybe in conjunction with the training support) that fits the requirements of a diverse group such as the film community. This could even be a collaborative project that could work between educational institutions such as UL and their Journalism students along with the Creative Technology students of LIT, Television Production Students of LCFE and the Fine Art students of LSAD. All contributing and collaborating with each other along with the local film making community. After all it may well be those students who become the new batch of content creators in the future.
  3. Screening and Marketing – Finally, I think that its one thing to get support in training and information to make films, but there is also a need to correctly market and screen the work. Alot of the time, new short film makers make so much effort in the production and post production of their films only to be limited in the distribution methods available, mainly uploading to YouTube, Vimeo or other online mediums (mainly because they are free forms of distribution). There are other opportunities however. Both UL and LIT run film club screenings for students and film buffs alike. There is an opportunity to screen those short films before the main features. The advantages for the new film makers is obvious, giving them a chance to see their work on the big screen as well as gauging an audience’s reaction to the work. For the institutions they would benefit from new audiences as well as encouraging the new talent and thus creating a stronger culture of film making to the mid-west region. As current film festivals such as ‘Fresh Film Festival’, and ‘The Richard Harris Film Festival’, amongst others, work with the likes of the educational bodies in Limerick we must also support these events into our yearly calendars. Having well established film festivals on our door step is a gift for film makers to output to professionals and audiences both nationally and internationally. Working more closely with these festivals would improve their local film maker base and provide more local content to their scheduled events and screenings they put on during the year.

These are three areas that could be developed using what is already available in the region rather than trying to inject huge amounts of money, that is obviously not available from the local authority at this time. If there was some forward thinking, planning and collaboration, then these could be achieved to create a new and fresh film making culture where future employment could be possible. Troy Studios have stated an number of occasions that they are a facility provider not an employer of crew. Should local film makers receive the training opportunities, get support and resources to create and screen films and other content, then we will see a new workforce that will be attractive and in demand, by production companies coming to Troy. It is Troy Studios job to bring in the big clients and productions like ‘Night Flyers’. In order to make their job easier, there needs to be an attractive new workforce that can meet the demands of such productions and complement the established professional facilities in Castletroy.

While all of these suggestions are well on paper (or screen in this case), they are ideas, and it does take a certain number of people to realise these to reality. And it must happen if we are to keep the film making talent in the region. To continue to lose them to our neighbouring cities and beyond will be an opportunity missed to strengthen the  film culture here. In order to give more opportunities to the film making community in Limerick city and county, there must be more of a collaboration between these groups and others, feeding the enthusiasm of imagination. Only then we may see the benefits in the creative culture of the Limerick film craftspeople of the future.

 

With over 24 years experience in Film and Broadcast Editing, Simon is a lecturer in Post Production at Limerick Institute of Technology and is undertaking a Professional Doctorate of Education in Creative Media Practice with Bournemouth University, UK.

 

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