THREE decades after filming War of the Buttons, Skibbereen made a different kind of filmic history on Saturday with the official opening of a new base of operations for the movie business.
West Cork Film Studios (WCFS) was officially opened by Oscar winner David Puttnam, and hundreds turned out to see how part of a former furniture factory at Baltimore Road has been turned into a very professional studios with all of the requisite departments.
‘Even if the making of War of the Buttons didn’t quite create the same filmmaking legacy,’ David said, ‘at least four of the young people who worked on the film went on to have very successful careers in the industry.’
He said they had to relocate to either Dublin or Belfast to pursue their chosen careers, but now, with the opening of WCFS by the O’Donnell family, people can learn the trade locally.
The movie mogul praised the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) for backing the project ‘to the hilt’ by agreeing to sell a 10-acre site adjacent to WCFS as a back lot for outdoor scenes.
‘Last year,’ David Puttnam said, ‘the Irish film, television and animation industry added €692m to the domestic economy.
‘In 2010, that figure was €164m, but by 2019 it has risen to €357m.’
The Skibbereen-based auteur said: ‘There are very few areas of the Irish economy, along with the jobs that come with it, offering anything like that level of growth.’
Commenting on the speed of change, he noted that Facebook took four-and-a-half years to reach an audience of 100 million users while Chat GPT reached that number in just two months.
‘Our young people are having to develop the skills necessary to compete in a world that’s moving faster than any of us could ever have anticipated,’ he said. ‘That’s why I believe in creating this incredible asset here.
‘It will allow people the opportunity to develop a range of skills which hopefully will enable them to enjoy really fulfilling lives in one of the few industries which – at least for the present – would appear to be relatively future proof.’