Limerick: Putting the Midwest in the centre of the shot

Film in Limerick is one of several initiatives developing the Midwest’s massive potential in the area of film and TV production, from stunning natural and architectural locations to gifted screenwriters and crews

Paul C Ryan, regional film manager at Film in Limerick and Michelle Brassil, studio manager at Troy Studios. Picture: Brian Arthur

The midwest has become one of the fastest-growing regions in Europe for film and television production, according to Paul C Ryan, regional film manager at Film in Limerick.

“The feedback we are getting from productions is that the region is a great place to make movies and TV,” Ryan said.

“We have the infrastructure – not only the largest film studio in Ireland at Troy – but also smaller-build spaces ready for use, and a developing crew base that is growing in experience fast.

“Add to that our Regional Film Uplift, offering a premium tax credit up to 37 per cent, and you can see why there is a buzz around filming in the midwest.”

The midwest has positioned itself to become a bigger hub for the screen industries, with the development of further film-making infrastructure planned, new initiatives to nurture locally based talent and a drive to attract more inward film and TV productions to Limerick, Clare and Tipperary.

Leading this development is Film in Limerick, a project of Innovate Limerick, set up to develop the sector in the midwest.

“There wasn’t a culture of big productions coming to town in the past, but Troy Studios changed all that. Now, as well as the blockbuster productions such as the Foundation series at Troy, we are seeing more features and TV series film on location in the region,” Ryan said.

“Shows such as Treasure Entertainment’s Smother, filming season two in Lahinch at the moment, and Saffron Moon’s series Hidden Assets, filming in Limerick and Shannon this month, are helping build the sector, and the reputation of the region as the most film-friendly in Ireland.

“We are finding that a lot of producers who wouldn’t perhaps have thought beyond Dublin and Wicklow before, are now seeing the opportunities and benefits of filming here.

Treasure Entertainment’s Smother has been filming season two in Lahinch, Co Clare

“We are blessed with stunning locations made for cinema, from the dramatic coastal areas of Clare to the rich Georgian heritage of Limerick city and the lush countryside and castles found in Tipperary,” Ryan said.

“With the second biggest footprint of Georgian architecture in Ireland after Dublin, Limerick city itself has many yet-to-be-discovered location gems that can offer something fresh to cinema and TV audiences.”

Film is now a priority for Limerick City and County Council. After the success of the City of Culture initiative in 2014, culture and innovation has been seen as a key area for the county, and Film in Limerick is one of the projects that stemmed from this thinking.

“Our vision for Limerick and the midwest is to be a major centre for production. Not only high-end inward TV productions, but also with a focus on developing new talent and companies,” Ryan said.

“Our new screenwriting and producing initiatives this year will see ten new commissioned short films, both fiction and documentary, filmed in the region this summer. New talent and companies are being supported as they progress to longer formats and as they build their networks internationally.”

Key to this are close working relationships with agencies in the region. As well as partnering with local authorities in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary, Film in Limerick has received support from the Local Enterprise Offices and a key partnership with Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, which has resulted in new training initiatives that react to industry needs.

Building a strong local crew base to support productions is a key priority for Film in Limerick.

The dual focus as a film office and as a film training provider has seen Film in Limerick engage with Screen Skills Ireland and Screen Ireland to further support the development of the sector in the region.

Like a lot of people who are interested in film, Ryan left Limerick to work in the industry abroad, but came back to be a part of the new developments.

“It’s incredible to see how quickly the sector has grown here. Who would have imagined that we would go from having little activity to being one of the fastest-growing film and TV production areas in Europe, with the biggest production ever to be made in Ireland based here in the city. And this is just the start,” Ryan said.

As well as visiting productions, Ryan has ambitious plans to keep supporting local creatives to produce their own work.

The short film schemes, screenwriting and producing initiatives, as well as industry delegations to Berlinale and the SXSW Festival in Texas, point to the ambitions that Film in Limerick has for talent in the three counties.

“We have so much untapped talent in the midwest and there is no reason why that talent and their resulting companies can’t be leading players both nationally and internationally, developing IP and reaching wide international audiences. It’s time for regional film and TV makers to take the stage,” Ryan said.