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'I'm gutted': Writers and directors due to receive Filmbase funding 'left hanging'

Many of these projects were due to start shooting this spring.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

FILMMAKERS WHO HAD been awarded funding through Filmbase schemes have said the future of their projects is up in the air following news that the organisation has gone into liquidation.

Filmbase confirmed yesterday that it was closing after 32 years. The organisation had offered courses, exhibition space and equipment on loan to filmmakers as well as access to film funding since it was founded in 1986.

It said yesterday that it was moving into voluntary liquidation due to debts which had accumulated.

Director Paul Duane was one of two film artists to secure a large grant through Filmbase’s Reel Art scheme in December. However, he said it took a long time to even get a contract from the association after the initial announcement and he never saw any of the €80,000 he was awarded.

He contacted the Arts Council – which had provided €170,000 in funding for the scheme to Filmbase – about the delay and he said that “rang alarm bells there”.

“They already had concerns about Filmbase’s financial situation,” he said.

In a statement yesterday, the Arts Council said it became aware of the financial difficulties on 5 March and sent independent auditors to investigate the matter on 12 March.

The following day the Filmbase board informed the council that the company had ceased trading.

“It’s been a stressful few months,” said Duane, who explained that he has already put around €2,500 of his own money into the film while he was waiting for the first tranche of funding to come through.

Filmmakers in the Reel Art scheme only have until January the following year to complete their project so it can be screened at the Dublin Film Festival.

“I’ve been onto the Arts Council and they have been very supportive and reassuring. They don’t know what the upshot will be, but filmmakers who were awarded funding whose funding has gone missing – or whatever happened – will be their priority.”

‘I’m gutted’

Columnist Amanda Brunker, who had won a grant through a Filmbase/RTÉ competition for her script ‘Wilted’, told TheJournal.ie that the organisation “kept stalling” with her funding.

They stopped replying to emails. I knew something was up. So this isn’t entirely a shock.

“The plan was to shoot this spring. We were to get €20,000 to make it plus €20,000 worth of help – use of cameras, edit suites etc.,” she said.

“Laura Whitmore and Baz Ashmawy were my leads. I’m gutted that it won’t happen now. It would be great if RTÉ would stand us as there has been a year put into this project. But I’m not holding out much hope.”

Screenwriter Gary Duggan had also secured €10,000 in funding through an RTÉ scheme that was managed by Filmbase, but said the contracts and funds “never materialised”.

He said Filmbase had been “elusive” for a months after the initial news.

Duggan said it was “very frustrating and disappointing” and he has not had any update on his project since the news of the liquidation broke.

“They just left us hanging,” he said.

RTÉ has told TheJournal.ie that Filmbase had “notified RTÉ of the situation”. The statement from RTÉ continued: “We are in talks with them. It is too soon to comment about any impacts on production.”

Read: Filmbase to go into liquidation after 32 years>

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