Category: Behind the Scenes

ABBEY BOARD’S SCRIPT

Frances Ruane

PIC: Frances Ruane 

GOLDHAWK was interested to know how the Abbey board reacted to last year’s decision by the Arts Council to withhold a chunk of funding until it sorted out its employment conditions for cast and crew brought in.

Find out more in the latest issue out now. You can also read about more drama at the Abbey here free of charge. 

NEIL JORDAN’S HORROR STORY

TWENTY YEARS on from In Dreams, his last dalliance with an American psychological horror story, it seems Neil Jordan has laid another curate’s egg with the New York-set Greta, filmed in Ireland with James ‘Octagon’ Flynn producing.

French star Isabelle Huppert leads as an unhinged predator (the role played by Robert Downey Jr in the earlier film). Critical reaction may depend on how grand one likes one’s guignol or how high one likes one’s camp.

It’s safe to assume the budget for Greta was half to two-thirds that of the earlier film’s $30m. It picked up €2m to €5m in change from Revenue under the Section 481 tax credit scheme and €650,000 from Screen Ireland (formerly the Irish Film Board).

Box office for Greta has been below expectations – $10.5m to date in the US, where it opened on March 1st at 2,411 cinemas. Back in 1999, In Dreams took $12m from 1,670 cinemas when ticket prices were lower.

With a performance like this, it may not come as too much of a surprise that Universal in the US is set to release the film online on May 14 and on Blu-ray and DVD on May 28. Jordan boasted in an extended puff piece in the Sunday Times ‘Culture’ magazine last weekend that Greta is “a cinema animal”. Maybe someone needs to remind Universal of this.

(Irish cinema-goers get to make their own minds up when it opens over the Easter weekend.)

PROFILE: JAMES FLYNN

James Flynn

A GRIPPING legal drama returns to the schedules this month, when German lawyer-turned-movie maker Winfried ‘Winni’ Hammacher goes head to head with two of Ireland’s top TV and movie men, Morgan O’Sullivan and James Flynn.

Read all about it in the latest issue. You can also read Goldhawk’s profile of Flynn’s business partner, Morgan O’Sullivan, for free here

JOSEPHA MADIGAN’S BIASED BURSARIES

Josepha Madigan

NOT SURPRISINGLY, there was little (ie no) outcry after Josepha Madigan unveiled the government’s latest gender-based culture wheeze, which takes the form of the “Markievicz bursaries”. It is hard to see how such a scheme got the green light.

Apparently the new bursaries “both honour Countess Constance Markievicz – herself an artist – and provide support for female artists from all backgrounds and genres in producing new work that reflects the role of women in the period covered by the centenary commemorations and beyond”.

The plan is the provide €100,000 pa to be split among five female artists/writers (working individually or in collaboration with others). No men need apply.

It is unclear if the (independent) Arts Council is even allowed dish out taxpayers money with such restrictions imposed, but the Department of Culture says it is preparing to “partner with the Arts Council on the governance arrangements and the administration of the scheme”. Given the remove at which Merrion Square is supposed to carry out its statutory remit, this looks a little too cosy for comfort.

This is the first time the department has sponsored a bursary programme in collaboration with the council. Apparently, the move is “in line with the policy aspirations of the cultural policy document Culture 2025”.

The Arts Council is well used to administering bursaries all on its own and has done so successfully for many years. The 2017 annual report lists over 200 such bursaries awarded under various genres, representing grants of over €2m. Significantly, 54% of the bursaries went to female applicants.

Given the lack of any evident anti-female bias, the justification for new bursaries aimed only at women is hard to identify. Goldhawk asked the department what was the justification for the proposed female-only funding scheme, but the response stated only that “the bursary is intended to commemorate Countess Constance Markievicz as an inspirational woman artist and key figure to the fore of realising the twin goals of women’s suffrage and the campaign for Irish independence”.

Nor is there any information available yet about the nature of the selection panel, although the department said that Merrion Square has “a well-established and robust process for assembling appropriate selection panels”.

The bizarre scheme will open for submissions in January.

JOSEPHA’S BURSARIES MK II

Josepha Madigan

THIS MONTH, applications close for the ‘Markievicz bursaries’ (mark II) and it promises to be pretty competitive given that the potential field has doubled in size. What is interesting about the decision to open up the €20,000 a head bursaries to applicants of the male persuasion is the lack of serious analysis of any potential legal potholes associated with a women-only scheme.

Read all about it here

You can read some background on Madigan’s biased bursaries free of charge here