Posts Tagged ‘screen skills ireland’

Equality, She Wrote

3rd March 2021

The Writers Guild of Ireland invites you to join us online on 8th March @ 12pm for a special webinar to celebrate International Women’s Day. Discussing their careers and their experiences as female writers with WGI Chair Jennifer Davidson will be Ursula Rani Sarma and Miriam Devitt. Dr Susan Liddy, Chair of WGI’s Equality Action Committee, will also join the panel to discuss the work being done to bring us closer to gender equality. As well as discussing their own careers, and their advice on how to navigate industry as a woman, the panel also will talk about their aspirations for the industry post the 50:50 by 2020 campaign and where the debate around equality and inclusion needs to go next.

This WGI Webinar is part of a series of webinars supported by Screen Skills Ireland through their Stakeholder Funding Scheme. WGI gratefully acknowledge the support of SSI for this event.

Register in advance for this webinar here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Panellist Details


Photo Credit – Ste Murray

Miriam Devitt graduated from IADT with a First Class Masters in Screenwriting having won the Warner Bros Scholarship. Miriam has written and produced short films BarryRunning Commentary and The Space in Between, which she also co-directed. She was a regular writer and presenter for RTÉjr with such programmes as Pic-a-story, Shhh… Itʼs Quiet Time, and Storytime. She also wrote and presented the radio documentary The Last Picture Show for Raidio Corca Baiscinn. She is currently in development writing six-part TV crime drama Trace (Wildfire Films, with Screen Ireland funding) and dark comedy feature Dead Wrong (John Kelleher Media with the support of Sources 2/Creative Europe MEDIA). Miriam has been nominated for the Aer Lingus Discovery Award 2021 with Dublin International Film Festival.


Photo Credit – Helen Warner

Ursula Rani Sarma is an award-winning writer of Irish and Indian descent. She grew up in West Clare and is a graduate of University College Cork and Trinity College Dublin. She began writing, directing and producing plays while still a student. Since then she has written for The Abbey Theatre, The National Theatre London, the American Conservatory Theatre SF, Ambassador Theatre Group UK, Traverse Theatre, Paines Plough, BBC Radio and RTÉ Radio amongst many others. She began writing for the screen in 2010 with Raw (RTÉ) and since then has worked on other Irish series Red Rock and Smother. She was lead writer and Executive Producer on Series 3 of Delicious for Sky One in 2019 after joining the team and writing episode 3 for Series 2. Her award-winning short films include Robot and ScarecrowAnywhere But HereImpact, Gloria and Prodigal.

Ursula is currently writing numerous projects for the Abbey Theatre, the BBC, Channel 4, Film 4 and RTÉ, amongst others. Some of these include developing The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters for Tiger Aspect/BBC (6×60″) and All That Remains for Dancing Ledge/BBC (6 x 60″). She is adapting the Sci Fi horror novel Outpost for Carnival Films and developing musical drama Something Happened at Lilipoint with 42. For film Ursula is adapting Erotic Stories by Punjabi Widows for Scottfree/Film4 and the true story of Ramla Ali, In the Shadows, for Sleeper Films/Film4. She is also adapting the novel The Survival Game into a feature for Blazing Griffin. Ursula ran the MA in Scriptwriting at Bath Spa University for ten years and continues to feed into the education of emerging scriptwriters whenever possible.


Dr. Susan Liddy is chair of the WGI Equality Action Committee. She is also chair of WFT Ireland and a board member of Women in Film and Television International and Raising Films Ireland. She lectures in the Department of Media and Communication Studies in MIC, University of Limerick.

Susan’s work includes Women in the Irish Film Industry: Stories and Storytellers (ed. 2020) and Women in the International Film Industry: Policy, Practice and Power (ed. 2020). She is currently co-authoring two industry reports: for the BAI and Raising Films Ireland. Her co-edited collection Media Work, Mothers and Motherhood: Negotiating the International Audio Visual Industry will be published by Routledge in April 2021. She is currently working on a collection about ageing women in the international screen industries.

Susan is the founder and co-director of Catalyst International Film Festival, Limerick – a festival that prioritises films from underrepresented groups, in front of and behind the camera.


Photo Credit – Alecia Hoyt

Currently writing for Ireland’s national soap opera, Fair City, Jennifer is an experienced screenwriter with a background in documentary production and development. She has a high-end TV series in development with Port Pictures and has originated a number of other TV series pitches and pilots which are currently available. Her work tends towards relationship drama and intergenerational conflict, and as a writer from North Mayo, with a strong west of Ireland flavour. Her short film Waiting For Tom was named Best Short Film at the London Irish Film Festival in 2015, while another short which she also directed, A Single Woman’s Guide To Life, was awarded a festival prize at the Chicago Irish Film Festival in 2016. In 2015, she attended the prestigious European TV Drama Lab in Berlin. In 2016 she was awarded Film Mayo’s inaugural Tyrone Guthrie Centre Bursary. Having served as the Guild’s Deputy Chair, she was elected Chair of the Writers’ Guild of Ireland in September 2020. Jennifer also sits on the Equality Action Committee and the Board of Raising Films (Ireland).

The Role of the Showrunner – Breaking the Mould

3rd March 2021

Screen Skills Ireland in association with MediaXchange are offering a webinar series The Role of the Showrunner – Breaking the Mould.

Date: Tuesday 23rd March – Thursday 15th April 2021, twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday
Duration: 8 x 60 minute sessions (4pm – 5pm)
Venue: Online
Cost: €100

Leading Showrunners will deliver acute insights into the dual role of developing and sustaining the vision of a show and managing the writing and production practices.

This webinar series aims to provide an opportunity for writers, producers and executives working in drama to consider and examine elements to apply to their own process. Providing inspiration, by comparing and contrasting the best practices shared by Showrunners of successful limited and returning drama series from the US. Each speaker will offer perspectives on their varied approaches, from the creation of the concept and pitching, through development, pre-production, production and post.


Terence Winter Tokyo Underworld, Vinyl, Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos
David Shore House, The Good Doctor
Soo Hugh Pachinko, The Terror, The Killing
Todd Kessler Bloodline, Damages
Maria Feldman False Flag, Fauda, No Man’s Land
Cheo Hodari Coker Luke Cage, Southland
Adi Hasak The Box, Margeaux, Shades of Blue, Eyewitness
Sarah Timberman Unbelievable, Elementary, Masters of Sex, Justified
Susannah Grant Unbelievable, A Gifted Man, Erin Brockovich
Tuesday, March 23rd: Creating original shows from true stories, the challenges of mingling real and fictional characters
Thursday, March 25th: Showrunners and the role of Executive Producers
Tuesday March 30th: Finding creative freedom within superhero brands
Thursday April 1st: Spotlighting the key elements in securing, managing and directing your stars and cast
Tuesday, April 6th: Building lead characters in ensemble shows and how they help sustain the success of long running series
Thursday April 8th: Creating the vision for genre and period drama shows
Tuesday, April 13th: The Creator/Showrunner as a ‘creative studio’: practical comparisons between the US and international options
Thursday April 15th: Examining the collaborative partnership between Creators and Executive Producers

Participant Profile: Aimed at experienced writers, creative producers and executives who wish to gain further expertise in Showrunning and the associated developing, writing and producing for limited and returning television drama. Participants must have industry track record with at least two paid professional writing/producing/executive television credits.
Please apply online by 12pm on Thursday, 11th March 2021 with your up to date CV.

Apply here.

WGI would like to thank Screen Skills Ireland for acting on our suggestion to subsidize this excellent course to make it possible for Irish writers to participate. If we are to grow the International TV production model here, more and more Irish writers will need to step up to the role of Showrunner/ Executive Producer which is the dominant model in US and increasingly in the UK. This course will give Irish writers a really good insight into what that actually entails.

The US Scripted Content Market in 2021 

25th November 2020

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.


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.

New Webinar Series

29th October 2020

WGI is pleased to announce the first in a series of webinars supported by Screen Skills Ireland Stakeholder Funding Scheme, What’s Next? The Future of Film And TV In The Age Of Covid- 19, will take place this Friday, 30th October at 4pm.

As we plough through a second wave of infections, we ask a panel of Guild representatives from Europe and the USA what will be the long-term impact for feature film production if cinema chains cannot stay in business? Traditional public services broadcasters are facing a funding crisis and eroded audiences seduced by the proliferation of high-quality streamed content. Screen Ireland has ploughed unprecedented amounts of money into development in 2020 but can these projects ever get made?

WGI Director Hugh Farley will moderate a discussion with Lowell Peterson, WGA East, David Kavanagh, Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE) and Lesley Gannon, WGGB (to be confirmed) on these topics and more.

You can register for the webinar here.

Other seminars in the series will include a Q&A with US TV market expert Des Doyle (November) and Development Application Tips with Screen Ireland Project managers (December).

Only Connect

27th April 2020

On Friday, 17th April 2020, WGI Director Hugh Farley delivered a Screen Talks webinar in which he talked about how the COVID-19 crisis could and must be a catalyst of change in the film/tv sector.

Screen Talks is a series of webinars organised by Screen Skills Ireland and delivered by industry experts on a broad array of sector-related topics.


Last night, my family went out again on our doorstep to join our street and I guess the whole country, to applaud the frontline health workers who are working so bravely to keep us safe.

There has been so much community spirit on display – rosters of people delivering essential supplies to the old and vulnerable for example, and a huge desire to connect and re-connect with family and friends virtually.

All of which got me thinking about how this crisis could and must be a catalyst of change in the film/tv sector. You noticed that I didn’t say business because that implies that you can make a living from it.

For many of us in the sector, even in the best of times, full-time employment is a bit of a pipe dream. Last year’s European survey of writers’/directors’ incomes revealed two interesting facts. Firstly, the median income of writers and directors is 25K per annum and of that only 19K comes from their audio-visual work


The second fact is that as writers and directors gain more experience, the importance of a secondary source of income becomes more important not less.

That, of course, is a survey across Europe. What is the situation in Ireland.? Last week we surveyed our members of the Writers Guild and this is what we learnt: Only less than a third wholly earn their living from writing. For the other 70 per cent, a secondary source of income is vital.

Now lest you think this special pleading, let’s acknowledge that many technicians, performers, directors, and even producers are in the same boat – and that was before the coronavirus crisis.

If we’re serious about becoming an industry, we have to take a long hard look at ourselves. What is clear is that we will have to grow capacity, competence and capital and frankly a sense of artistic and commercial daring. We are competing with bigger economies, with a tradition of excellence in filmmaking and a well-developed talent development eco-system.

Let’s take a look at our next door neighbour, the UK, for example. In 2016 – before the streaming production boom really took off – Film and TV content generated £15bn. Foreign sales accounted for £4.7 bn. Its audiovisual sector is 20% larger than its nearest European rival, Germany, whose population is 20% bigger than the UK.  Since then Netflix and Amazon have booked out studio space spending £280 million in 2018. In Shepperton Studios alone, they are using all 14 soundstages.

The UK is a magnet for US film and TV capital because of its studio infrastructure, extensive talent base in front of and behind the cameras and growing number of UK production companies like Left Bank Pictures who have developed and produced highly successful intellectual property like ‘The Crown’.

So today, while everything is at a standstill and we’re scratching our heads about how we get things going again, we need to take the opportunity to re-consider how we can improve our market position to deliver great TV and Film content at higher volumes.

Yesterday, Screen Ireland launched a major series of initiatives to pump capital into our screen industries to help alleviate the hardship caused by covid-19. I think they are brave and practical measures and represent a welcome nimbleness and vision. But for me, what marks these initiatives out is that they are the product of extensive consultation with representative organizations like ourselves, and we believe that this is an essential template for the future.

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Desirée Finnegan the CEO of Screen Ireland and her colleagues have done their best to listen to industry needs and design targeted supports that deserve commendation.

So our screen industries are about to make a massive investment in development. Now the question is: develop what.?

Let’s take a look at the big picture…

Many markets have seen a drop in cinema attendances (strangely enough Eastern European audiences are bucking the trend). That in tandem with the collapse of DVD sales has meant the profitability of feature films – always precarious – got a lot riskier.  In fact, European produced films account for only one quarter of films exhibited in Europe.

Younger audiences make up the majority of revenue but they will only turn out for big-budget superhero movies which has resulted in US studios hoovering up high concept IP that centres around comic book franchises and world-building novels. Unfortunately, that is not the kind of film we make.

Getting that 35-plus audience to the cinema is harder than ever. Factor in a babysitter, transport costs, parking, tickets and popcorn and you’re looking at €70 euro for a movie. Assuming that – as we unwind the lockdown – it is possible for 100 people to sit in the same room for two hours…

Many are more than happy to see award-winning movies like ‘Roma’ and critically acclaimed movies like ‘The Irishman’, ‘Uncut Gems’ and ‘Marriage Story’ in the comfort of their own homes in 4k surround sound while the kids watch gaming play-throughs on YouTube in their bedrooms.

Which all means that we cannot take for granted there will be a platform or network of platforms on which independent cinema will be shown.

That is a problem for the Irish Film industry especially because this country makes arthouse or  niche genre films – which begs the question what happens to those movies in a post-Covid 19 crisis environment where cinema admissions may be limited per screen and art-house screens around the globe pull the shutters down.

Back in 2010’s, the Irish Film Board’s world view was essentially this. It was in the feature film business and its relationship with TV was as an ancillary market that screened the work it produced in precisely designed sequence (or recoupment corridor) after DVD and pay TV. Cinema was an art form and TV was…well….Not.

Things are very different today. The IFB became Screen Ireland and began investing a small proportion of its annual budget in developing high-value international TV projects. The value of TV and streamed content is at least five times that of feature films – those numbers are from 2018 but with entry of Disney Plus and Apple into the market you can extrapolate they are much higher now. Netflix alone has invested $4bn in production and similar numbers are spent by the big players.

So in the context of all of that the question is…What is Irish Film?

Because to punch through of all of that you have to have a brand.

Like the Danes in the 90’s with Dogma 95 or more recently South Korea with Horror movies and viscerally violent thrillers. They worked hard to build their brand and look what happened this year: multiple Oscars for ‘Parasite’.

I’m going to read this from a online film journal called Vox:

“A victory like Parasite has long been in development for South Korea. Michelle Cho, professor of East Asian studies at the University of Toronto, told me that the media and entertainment industries in South Korea have been heavily pushed to globalize in the past 20 years. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, increased investment by the government and corporations in high-tech internet infrastructure and  top-notch research and development, production, and design all contributed to building up cutting-edge entertainment products.”

They had a plan and they executed it.

Can we do that? Let’s look at what we would have to do…

  1. Build Consensus.

  2. Learn from mistakes and share them. Those who do not learn from failures in the past are destined to repeat them.

  3. Support Talent not projects.

  4. Build a talent Ecosystem.

  5. Invest in more development in development than production. And experiment constantly with how we do what we do.

  6. Sort out Public Service Broadcasting. Irish culture has value – It defines who we are – but frankly during the Covid 19 crisis, it is keeping us and are kids sane. We have relied on RTE and TG4 as independent and trusted news sources as well as entertainment. We let them go to the wall at our peril. These programmes are made by Irish women and men and they will not continue to exist without reform of publicly funded broadcasting.

For those of you who think and hope that things will go back to the ways things were pre Covid -9, it is time to think again. All’s changed, changed utterly…You can complete the next sentence yourselves.

When Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes landed his men on the Mexican coast in the 16th century, he had the ships that took them there scuttled. As his horrified men watched the ships sink forever beneath the waves, Cortez turned to them and said: ‘There is no going back now. Only forwards.”

Covid 19 is our Cortes.

We need to start talking about our collective cultural future. We can do that if we…

Only Connect.


Screen Talks Hugh Farley from Screen Talks on Vimeo.