Developing Your Project with Screen Ireland: in conversation with the Screen Ireland Project Development Team

12th January 2021 by admin

One of the more positive outcomes for screenwriters last year was very significant additional investment placed into development funding. Members of Screen Ireland’s project development team will outline the common pitfalls, and the qualities that successful applications tend to possess.

Questions will be welcomed during the session but discussion on individual projects will not be possible.

The webinar will take place 11am on Friday, 15th January.

WGI members will be emailed registration details.

Places are limited and registration is essential.

A New Year Message from WGI Director Hugh Farley Director

6th January 2021 by admin

Reasons To Be Cheerful…

A very happy New Year to all our members across the country. Though the return to severe Coronavirus restrictions doesn’t exactly infuse the usual sense of joy, I am optimistic that 2021 will prove to be something of a watershed year for professional writers.

The upside of the pandemic was an unprecedented focus on development with more money available to option or commission scripts. WGI won an additional €100,000 of support for writers from SI in measures announced to offset the economic impact of the virus in 2020. Not to mention the increase in indirect funding through supports from producers and directors to commission or option new work. We will be campaigning to ensure that as many of these new works can continue to be supported through to production and to copper fasten development funding in 2021.

There is an increased appetite for cooperation and consensus-building within our sector that is most welcome. For example, Screen Ireland is formulating its three-year policy at present. They have retained Crowe Howarth as external consultants who are launching a major round of consultation with stakeholders throughout the industry. I would urge you to make your voice heard either through individual submissions or as part of a sectoral panel.

RTE and TG4 took the initiative to convene a sectoral group which comprises Animation Ireland, Screen Producers Ireland, Screen Directors Guild of Ireland and ourselves. Economics thinktank Indecon was commissioned to write a report setting out the case for a new levy on external media suppliers such as the streamers and Sky (provided for in the EU AVMS directive) that could net a significant amount of new money to invest in the development and production of new TV drama. WGI’s participation in the group ensured that support for writers would be embedded in the scheme. That report has now gone to government and will need vigorous campaigning over the next 18 months to see that the proposals are framed in new legislation.

Other reasons to be cheerful are legislative changes that can only improve the lot of the working writer. The transposition of the European Copyright Directive into Irish law (expected by July) will ensure that producers must provide accurate annualised statements to writers detailing the sales achieved on each production to which they have participated in.  If it has performed unexpectedly well the writer may be entitled to additional ‘fair and proportionate remuneration’.

The European Competition Directorate intends to enact legislation within the next year or so that will allow guilds to collectively bargain on behalf of members (currently prohibited) which will enable us to be able fight more effectively for your rights.

Finally, and most excitingly, we have received some new funding from the Arts Council which will enable us to overhaul our website, newsletter and overall online communications. We’re committed to bringing you a lot more content news, interviews and practical information that will enable you to navigate your career more effectively. You’ll be  hearing about more online seminars, networking opportunities and simply social online meet ups, starting with a session with Screen Ireland’s project managers coming soon.

So, raise a glass, writers. Blue skies are on the way.

Cheers,

Hugh Farley
Director

Writers’ Guild of Ireland ZeBBie Awards Winners Announced

27th November 2020 by admin

The 13th Annual Writers’ Guild of Ireland ZeBBie Awards were held online last night 25th November). Named in honour of O.Z (Zebby) Whitehead, and presented each year by Senator David Norris, the awards are voted for by members of the Guild. The 2020 ZeBBie Awards recognise  the best scripts for radio, stage and screen that were written and produced in 2019.

The Writers’ Guild warmly congratulates all the winners on their fantastic scripts. In an incredibly competitive year for scriptwriting talent, the winners were

Theatre – Removed by Fionnuala Kennedy

A young man called Adam shares his funny, moving and shocking story of social workers, foster homes and his baby brother, Joe.

Radio Drama – You’d Better Sit Down by Nyree Yergainharsian

You’d Better Sit Down illustrates with poignancy and humour how different people within the one family attempt to cope with a diagnosis of cancer and how this challenging event brings the family dynamic sharply into focus.

Feature Film – Extra Ordinary by Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman, Maeve Higgins, Demian Fox

Rose, a mostly sweet and lonely Irish driving instructor, must use her supernatural talents to save the daughter of Martin (also mostly sweet and lonely) from a washed-up rock star who is using her in a Satanic pact to reignite his career.

Short Film – Ciúnas by Tristan Heanue

A couple drive to the city to collect their daughter. It’s clear they are in the middle of a family crisis. But what exactly is wrong…. and how do they cope with the unfolding situation?

Television Drama – Derry Girls Series 2 Episode 6 by Lisa McGee

As Christmas nears, excitement in Derry is at fever pitch for President Bill Clinton’s visit. Having written to Chelsea Clinton, the friends naïvely plan to spend the day with her, while James gets a surprise, and Granda Joe embarks on a mysterious plan.

Continuing Drama – Fair City Series 30 Ep 195 by Thomas McLaughlin

Will imprisons and violently attacks Cristiano and flees the scene, promising to call an ambulance.  But he is knocked down on the street and stretchered off to hospital himself.

You can watch the ceremony in full here:

The US Scripted Content Market in 2021 

25th November 2020 by admin

What is the state of the market for drama likely to be in the United States next year? In an upcoming webinar, Des Doyle will be giving his take on the state of play. He will explore the impact of the Corona virus on production and development and present his analysis of the opportunities and pitfalls for Irish writers seeking to make a US sale.

The webinar will take place on 10th December at 11am.

This event is an initiative of the Writers Guild of Ireland and is supported by Screen Skills Ireland. Spaces are limited to WGI members only so book a place here.

Biography:

Des Doyle is the writer/director of the critically acclaimed documentary Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show, featuring JJ Abrams (Alias, Lost, Fringe), Robert and Michelle King (The Good Wife), Ronald D. Moore (Outlander, Battlestar Galactica), Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory) and Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly) among others. The documentary also led to the accompanying book Showrunners, written by Tara Bennett and published by Titan.

He has given talks on Show-running, US TV Production, the Global TV Marketplace and the Future Of Content for USC Los Angeles, Rowan University Philadelphia, Scriptmakers Berlin, APIT TV Producers Conference Lisbon, Northern Ireland Screen , IADT Dublin and Galway Film Centre.

He is currently working on a new media-based documentary series as well as providing creative consultancy services to Irish Producers & Writers with projects targeting the US and streaming markets.

O.Z. “Zebby” Whitehead Remembered by Stephen Bradley

25th November 2020 by admin

I met wonderful Zebby Whitehead in 1991 and we became unlikely friends. He was in his 80’s and I was in my mid 20’s. I was working with producer Noel Pearson who lived and had his office in a house on Harcourt Terrace and was then at the height of his Oscar-winning powers shortly after productions of My Left Foot and The Field, both directed by Jim Sheridan. The house had previously been lived in by Michael MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards. Theatrical and Cinematic history was thick in the air in Dublin 2. I had left my student theatre days behind and wanted to make films. Serendipitous times.

I went to visit Zebby for many cups of tea in his ground floor flat on Leeson Street. It was frugal, sparse, clean and welcoming. I became enamoured by Zebby’s tales of old Hollywood in the Roaring Twenties followed by the distant, unimaginable Thirties and Forties. He told me that he had accompanied Katherine Hepburn to a New England cinema to see a public screening of her first film Bill of Divorcement in 1928 because Zebby had gone to Harvard with her brother and he stayed with the Hepburn family on many occasions. Katherine encouraged Zebby to pursue his acting dreams. Perhaps it was she who introduced him to the iconic director John Ford who cast him in several films?

I loved the stories of his cameo parts in some very famous films. I wanted to pay tribute to my generous friend and mentor. But I didn’t want to make a hagiography, a sop, an emotional mess. So I made a film about the grim reaper coming to kill Zebby in the middle of a wild storm.With unexpected results. After many applications and rejections it was selected for competition at the Venice Film Festival 1995. Ed Guiney, my friend and housemate produced the film, and apparently he’s gone on to make some other films since then.

For anyone who wants to watch Reaper there’s a link below. It’s 12 minutes long, filmed by Cian de Buitléar on black and white 35mm negative to match the clips from The Grapes of Wrath. Introducing the premiere in the old Screen Cinema near Trinity College (piggy-backing on the premiere of Paddy Breathnach’s first film Ailsa, written by Joseph O’Connor), Ed Guiney described Reaper as ”out there where the buses don’t run”.

RIP O.Z. ”Zebby” Whitehead.
Good luck to all those nominated for a ZeBBie in his memory during this crazy year of 2020.

Stephen Bradley
Watch Stephen’s short film Reaper here