NI Screen’s new strategy targets £430m economic boost from film industry
Gary McDonald Editor-in-Chief
October 11, 2022 03:00
Film and screen productions filmed in the north have injected £330m directly into the region’s economy since 2018, new figures show.
And a new Northern Ireland Screen four-year strategy called Stories, Skills and Sustainability aims to take that to £430m by 2026.
The strategy, released at an event at the Waterfront Hall, also set out a number of other commitments, including moving Nerve Belfast to W5 and doubling NI Screen’s skills budget to £4m a year. .
It also pledges to continue short film funding, script development funding and New Talent Focus; expanding NI Screen’s partnership with the BBC, including the implementation of the Creative Industries New Entrant (CINE) program which creates new entrant opportunities for those most socially marginalized, including people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and people from the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups; and continue Into Film’s ScreenWorks work experience program.
Despite pandemic-related challenges, the combined budgets of productions supported by NI Screen during its 2018-22 “Opening Doors Phase II” strategy exceeded £1 billion, with a third remaining in the local economy.
At the launch of yesterday’s new strategy event, NI Screen celebrated the industry’s success over the past four years, reflecting on massive hits like Lisa McGee’s Derry Girls, Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar for Belfast, record ratings for Line of Duty and Bloodlands, and the upcoming release of Netflix’s School for Good and Evil.
He also highlighted the great strides being made within the gaming cluster in the north with Soft Leaf Studios, Level 91 Entertainment and Bellular Studios bringing their games to audiences in the big screen industry.
Richard Williams, Managing Director of NI Screen, said: “Our new strategy shares our ambition for the future of the screen industry in Northern Ireland.
“While we recognize that there is currently considerable turbulence in the market and that there are great challenges ahead, we are confident that there will still be ample opportunity for the industry to continue to grow. and we will do all we can to help meet these challenges.
“But we have to keep looking for opportunities and honing our workforce because there are a lot more stories to tell.”
He expressed his gratitude to the Departments of Economy and Communities for their continued support (£4.8million has been set aside to enable the full delivery of the first year of the strategy) as the region strives to become the strongest screen industry in the UK and Ireland outside of London.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “I have visited some of the productions supported by Northern Ireland Screen and have seen first hand the impact of these investments.
“The scale of the biggest productions is really something you can’t fully appreciate until you see ‘behind the camera’. These productions provide highly skilled employment opportunities, internships to develop our growing on-screen workforce, and establish important supply chains that all contribute to stronger economic activity.