PLANS for a dedicated film studio in Skibbereen were given a full hearing by Dara Calleary, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, when he visited the O’Donnell Design furniture factory last week.
After a sit-down meeting with directors of O’Donnell Designs, as well as top film production personnel who all live locally, the minister said he now understands that there is ‘a huge level of skill available here locally that we can use to sell this as a location for film and investment.’
The minister and Cork South West TD Christopher O’Sullivan said they would be holding further meetings to consider ways that the government ‘can help make this a reality.’
West Cork has become increasingly popular among filmmakers as a location, with projects such as Graham Norton’s Holding and the Obama-backed Bodkin filmed here recently.
Édaín O’Donnell said a dedicated film studio – in which production companies can build their own sets – would increase the number of films and TV series shot here, while Jim O’Donnell impressed upon the Minister the need to create ‘a back lot’ to support the endeavour.
In April, Cork County Council expressed confidence in the €1.5m proposal by granting planning permission for the ‘change of use’ of approximately one third of the furniture-making factory at Baltimore Road in Skibbereen.
Stephen Parks, who travels the world building sets for movies but lives locally in Ballydehob, said the 18,000 sq ft of space available at the factory meets all the criteria for the construction of sets because it has state-of-the-art facilities, including three-phase power and an excellent extraction system that is vital for health and safety.
‘The O’Donnell’s have really set this up very professionally,’ he said. ‘It is probably one of the best construction workshops I have ever seen.’