Irish Filmmakers' Tax Breaks Renewed

An innovative film and television tax investment scheme - known as Section 481 - has been extended by the Irish Republic's Government for a further three years.

Announcing the decision Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Hanafin said: "The current scheme was due to expire at the end of 2012 and because of its significant and positive impact on this sector a decision was taken by the Government today to extend it in the Finance Bill."

She explained that the scheme was amended and enhanced in a number of the Finance Acts, most recently in 2008.

The amendments in 2008 extended the scheme for a further four years until the end of 2012, increased the overall ceiling on qualifying expenditure from €35m to €50m, increased the individual investor cap for those wishing to invest finance in film in Ireland to €50,000 per annum from the previous limit of €31,750 and increased the relief on that investment to 100% from 80%.

The changes resulted in Ireland being able to offer somewhere in the region of 26% - 28% net benefit to film producers, up from the previous 20%.

Minister Hanafin said: "The changes introduced in 2008 were significant and gave the Irish audiovisual sector a major boost in challenging times.

"In 2010, a total of 57 projects were approved for funding with an Irish spend of some €165m.

"These 57 projects supported employment for crew, cast and extras of over 10,000 individuals and had the effect of maintaining and creating jobs in a very difficult economic climate, while at the same time producing a product that will help to sell Ireland abroad," she said.

Minister Hanafin went on to say, "it was imperative that we afford this industry a long term growth perspective and build on the successes to date".

"In a week in which Irish movies are performing to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival and during which the short film The Crush is nominated for an Oscar, this is a vote of confidence in our film practitioners and in the sector as a whole.

"Irish movie makers are top class - both behind and in front of the cameras, and the honours they have received over the years are a testament to this.

"This sector is truly one of our enduring success stories and Government investment and support is repaid many times over," she enthused.

Significant projects in 2010 were Camelot, a TV Series by the same people who made The Tudors, This Must Be The Place starring Oscar winning actors Sean Penn and Frances McDormand, Steven Soderberg's Haywire.

These incoming productions translate into increased international investment in the Irish economy, increased employment and positive spin-off effects for promoting Ireland as a tourist destination.

She said that 2011 will also start off the year on a high note with Albert Nobbs, starring Glenn Close, in production in Dublin and Wicklow and there are three Irish films in Official Competition at the Sundance Film Festival.

Also this week, 'bloodsucking aliens' have invaded the quiet Donegal community of Inishowen, as the film crew for Hollywood film 'Grabbers' landed in town.

The 100-strong cast and crew of the comedy-horror film have given January trade in the picturesque region a boost, but the area's bars could be in for the biggest peak in profits if the film's story line has any truth to it.

Described as 'Tremors' meets 'Waking Ned', the film stars Richard Coyle of the movie Coupling, Ruth Bradley from The Clinic, Russell Tovey of Being Human and Commitment's star Bronagh Gallagher (pictured) and depicts an alien invasion on the coast of Ireland.

However, the movie plot twists when the heroes discover that getting drunk is the only way to survive, as bloodsucking aliens can't stand the taste of drunk people.

The film's script has gained a lot of attention within the film industry and was listed on the 2009 UK Black List (a list of the most liked unproduced screenplays within the film industry) before production began.

The film is produced by Forward Films and Samson Films - who were behind the international hit, Once - and is backed by the UK's Film Council, the Irish Film Board and Sony Pictures who will also distribute the film in the UK and Ireland.

The monster movie is being directed by Brit Jon Wright and was written by Cork man Kevin Lehane.

According to the Inishowen News, the Carlton Redcastle Hotel is being used as the movie's production base and management has enjoyed block-booking of rooms for the past month while rooms were also booked out for use as editing suites and accounts offices.

The crew move on to Belfast at the end of this week while Bronagh Gallagher - already known for both previous big screen movie roles and her Commitments musical background - plays Belfast's Out To Lunch Festival on Saturday with her own band for a now sold-out gig.


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