Back in 2013, when I was still very much a newbie to all things Irish, Aidan McAteer, the director of the series I was producing, casually asked me if he could take me to lunch as he had a project to discuss with me.
That project was DEADLY, an animated short that got released online yesterday – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. You can watch it here.
As the writer and director, this project was Aidan’s baby but he brought me on board as producer because he wanted to submit it to the Irish Film Board’s Frameworks scheme and he needed an experienced producer in order for the project to be considered. Me, being American, had no idea what a “Frameworks” was and when it was explained to me I was a bit dumbfounded. In a nutshell, the Frameworks program awards selected Director/Producer/Studio teams a not insignificant amount of money with which to make an animated short film.
That’s the Irish Government.
Giving us money.
To make a film.
This was my first glimpse into a country and a government that actually respects the arts and understands how the arts and artists are an essential part of any functioning society. Ireland is, rightfully, tremendously proud of its literary and artistic heritage. Any country that spawned the likes of Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and James Joyce (to name but a very, very few) has every right to be.
There is even a tax break here known as the Artists Exemption, which yours truly is able to partake of. There is an application process and you have to prove that you do indeed earn your living as an artist (in my case, as a writer). If accepted you get a (not so) fancy certificate that proclaims your work to be “generally recognized as having cultural or artistic merit”. Nice bit a validation there, right? But more importantly, having this exemption means that the first €50,000 I make per year from writing is EXEMPT FROM INCOME TAX! A tax break like this means that more artists can actually afford to be artists.
Back in my native country of America, in this age of the orange He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, the very existence of government entities like The National Endowment for the Arts are in jeopardy. And so I, more than ever, realize how very lucky I am to live in a country that wants me to be an artist, that encourages me to be an artist, and that has made it possible for me to make a living as an artist.
Now back to DEADLY. Aidan, myself and a tireless bunch of fellow artists worked their tails off to get it done on time and on budget. Aidan even managed to convince Academy Award winner Brenda Fricker to be Bridie’s voice. DEADLY premiered at the 2014 Galway Film Fleadh (festival) where we won the Don Quijote Award for Animation in a Short Film. And we went on to gather a rather impressive amount of other awards including Best Short at the inaugural 2015 Irish Animation Awards.
It was a labour of love for Aidan and myself. It’s a beautiful little film of which I am immensely proud. Go on, give it a watch. Hopefully you’ll find it deadly.