Arklow screenwriter bemoans ‘lack of state and public support’

Dave Thomas has criticised what he perceives to be a lack of support from the Irish state and public bodies for his filmmaking aspirations after one of his projects won an American film festival award.

The Arklow resident’s screenplay entitled ‘Aretha’ was a winner at both the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival (HIMPFF) and the Hollywood Hills Awards in 2017.

His script was also a semi-finalist at the Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi, USA; a finalist at the 11th Waterford Film Festival and has made it to ‘Official Selection’ at the TMFF – The Monthly Film Festival – based in Glasgow.

Thomas was unable to travel to Los Angeles to attend the HIMPFF in January as he couldn’t afford the travel costs. He reached out to various organisations for funding assistance – including the Arts Council, the Irish Film Board and the Wicklow Local Enterprise Office – to no avail.

At one point, Thomas said that he got advice from the Minister for Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan to try “crowdfunding” which he deemed “insane as it would be extremely difficult to raise the funds this way.”

He added: “I do feel completely let down and failed by state agencies and public representatives. These agencies are funded by the tax payers, they have funding specifically to assist people in my situation and I am disgusted with the way I have been treated.

“It was my understanding that they are supposed to support the arts, nurture and help develop new works and talents. It seems they are more interested in supporting people and events that are already high profile.”

Thomas said that going to America was not just about accepting his award, but an opportunity to represent and showcase the Irish film industry as a whole.

“It was a golden opportunity to learn from these people, develop new contacts, to present my screenplay to producers and directors that may have been able to help get the film made, and it was the opportunity to represent Ireland, Wicklow and the Irish Film Industry on an international stage, which could have been extremely beneficial to me personally and to Ireland,” he said.

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