Production and Development Co-ordinator
IFB Funding Programmes /
Principles & Criteria
BSÉ/IFB's funding programmes are guided by some fundamental principles which form the basis of the decision making process. The principles are:
1. Making Cinema
4. Cultural Priorities, Industrial Priorities
5. Further Consideration
These are explained in more detail below. Some further considerations that may influence a decision in favour of one project over another are also set out below.
1. Making Cinema
Because it is the only source of public funding for feature films directed towards a cinema release the primary objective of BSÉ/IFB is to encourage, sustain and promote work in Ireland that is made to be shown on the big screen. In addition BSÉ/IFB will also have as part of its aims and objectives the support of certain other high quality audiovisual works.
In practice this will mean:
- Documentaries will be rigorously assessed in terms of their potential to achieve theatrical release or stimulate interest from international film festivals. Preference will be given to ‘feature documentaries'; films aimed at a one-hour TV slot or shorter, with little or no international appeal, are unlikely to be supported. Besides BSÉ/IFB's commitment to cinema, this approach is also designed to respond to the manifest increase in theatrical audiences' desire to see documentaries.
- Animation feature films and television series will be provided with funding in recognition both of the importance of Irish work in this field, and of the narrowness of the theatrical market that exists for animated features and the very limited funding from broadcasters for animation television series. Preference will be given to original work from Irish talent that appears to be sufficiently inventive and striking to measure up to the big-screen format and/or international television and other distribution.
- Television drama whether singles or series, will be funded for their inherent quality but other factors will also come into play. Strong emphasis will be placed on backing directors and writers whose careers to date clearly demonstrate an ability to make dramatic works, or who in the view of BSÉ/IFB are headed for a career in feature film or high quality television drama production. Further, BSÉ/IFB will need to be convinced that its financial involvement is crucial to the realisation of the programme or series and that the contribution from the broadcaster is commensurate with the seat of editorial control. BSÉ/IFB will also expect to contribute editorially to the development of this content.
BSÉ/IFB funding will be directed to supporting projects which are original, of high quality and which brings to cinema, though the talents of Irish writers, directors, producers and other Irish personnel working in film, a different and distinctly Irish talent driven cultural experience. What originality will mean for BSÉ/IFB funding will be that funding decisions will favour those Irish writers and directors, producers and other personnel who bring to film distinctive voices, a strongly individual view of the world and create a film experience which gives a new and/or reinvigorated sensation to that experience.
The requirement of Originality does not mean that existing forms of or genres of film will be avoided but that instead there is a distinctiveness and uniqueness to the approach to those forms of or genres of film and that the Irish writers, directors and producers supported will bring their own fresh approach and new thinking to these forms of or genres of films. Given the limited capacity for market and other funding of film in Ireland, Irish talent will need to be able to work with talent from other countries on projects being funded by BSÉ/IFB and originality will continue to be factored in as part of the assessment of the combined talents of all parties involved.
An essential rationale for making public money available to an industry is that it should create activity that would not otherwise occur, i.e. that the market, left to itself, would not engender. It follows that audiovisual works backed by BSÉ/IFB should be audiovisual works that will not be made, or will not be made with the same level of benefit to Ireland, unless enabled to do so with the support of the BSÉ/IFB. Such audiovisual works, and the benefits that flow from them, will represent ‘additional' economic activity.
This does not mean that BSÉ/IFB is interested only in supporting material with limited commercial prospects. There is a wealth of evidence in our audiovisual history to show that the successes are frequently ground breaking films. BSÉ/IFB will give energetic backing to producers who display an ambition to achieve market success and to projects that display an awareness of the market and at the same time provide a challenge to existing perceptions of what the market place expects.
4. Cultural Priorities, Industrial Priorities
Consistent with its government remit, and responding to the present perceived needs of the Irish audiovisual production industry, BSÉ/IFB considers that certain projects, in terms of their content, provenance or benefit to the industry, represent clear priorities for its funding as against others.
Strong preference will be given to submissions on behalf of projects which:
- are of ‘Irish initiation' in a creative sense; that is, conceived, written and to be directed by Irish talents
- tell Irish stories, drawing on and depicting Ireland's culture, history, way of life, view of the world and of itself
- entail new Irish talent in key creative roles, i.e. director, writer, producer, composer, principal actor
Serious attention will also be paid to submissions which:
- propose a strongly Irish project (in terms of setting, characters, etc) that is to be directed by a non-Irish talent, where BSÉ/IFB regards the director's track-record as an assurance of quality
- involve an Irish producer as minority co-producer of a film or drama television programmes and series, where (a) BSÉ/IFB is convinced of the quality of the project and, (b) the amount of BSÉ/IFB's investment corresponds to the level of involvement of Irish personnel, elements and facilities in the project.
Submissions on behalf of works to be made wholly or predominantly in the Irish language will continue to be particularly welcomed by BSÉ/IFB.
BSÉ/IFB will always be vigilant in ensuring that films and high quality drama and animation television programmes and series in which it invests entail a high volume of expenditure on Irish personnel and in the Irish industry, and this aspect of a submission is likely to play a material part in a positive decision. It will not in itself be a decisive factor, however, where BSÉ/IFB is not convinced by the quality of a project or where the project in other respects does not comply with any of the priorities set out above. This is dealt with in more detail under Further Considerations below.
5. Further Considerations
The guiding principles described above should serve to give applicants insight into the way in which BSÉ/IFB's executives and advisors will assess a project from the point of view of its content and the creative team involved. In assessing production funding applications, other factors may come into play, concerning the economic effects of the project, the financial arrangements, and the prospects of reaching audiences.
Where BSÉ/IFB does not consider that a project adheres to any of the guiding principles, these other factors will not in themselves be sufficient to secure an offer of funding. But, in the case of a project where content and creative team are seen as persuasive, the following considerations may affect and outcomes between BSÉ/IFB and the producers as to the level of BSÉ/IFB's investment and the way in which the work will be financed, produced and distributed:
Track record of the producer
- Has the producer managed and delivered audiovisual works in a professional and efficient manner before?
- Has BSÉ/IFB had good previous experience of dealing with the producer and the creative team?
- In a co-production, do any non-Irish producers involved have good professional track records?
- Are key creative and technical positions to be filled by Irish personnel?
- In a co-production, is the proportion of these appropriate?
- Will the production offer employment to Irish personnel across all possible grades?
Spend in the Irish economy
- Will the work be made in Ireland?
- Will the production make extensive use of Irish production and post-production facilities?
- Will the project attract inward investment into the Irish economy?
Sales and Distribution
- Is an international sales agent attached to the sale of the film or television programme or series?
- Does the film have an Irish distributor?
- Are any sales agents, distributors or broadcasters providing production finance?
- Are the proposed co-financiers of the film or television programme reliable?
- Will the proposed financing arrangements allow BSÉ/IFB to negotiate a reasonable recoupment position?
- Will there be reasonable transparency of accounting with regard to sales revenues, e.g. by use of a collection agent?
It should be emphasised that for a project to be offered Production funding it is not necessary for all these questions to be answered affirmatively. But negative answers to a high proportion of them could undermine a strongly positive disposition on the part of BSÉ/IFB towards the creative aspects of a project. At the very least, a mix of affirmative and negative answers will provoke discussion as to the extent and manner of BSÉ/IFB's commitment.
Some BSÉ/IFB funding programmes have specific criteria of their own and are not necessarily governed by the principles set out above. The Print Provision programme functions on an automatic basis, whereby BSÉ/IFB backed films become eligible for support if selected for one of a list of approved festivals, subject to agreement with BSÉ/IFB as to the level of funding. Marketing Support funding is provided to Irish distributors of BSÉ/IFB-backed films who demonstrate that support from BSÉ/IFB will enhance the promotion of a film in the Irish market. Direct Distribution funding is provided to Irish producers to help defray the costs of a limited theatrical release in Ireland (including Northern Ireland) for feature films already in receipt of BSÉ/IFB production funding, that have been unable to secure suitable theatrical distribution by a bona fide Irish distribution company.