I watched Shadow Dancer a short while ago. This is the story of an IRA informant and her MI5 handler, a tale set in Belfast in the 1990's. The main thing I felt after watching it was disappointment - this wasn't a reflection on the quality of the film (it was OK), nor was it because not once did it feature a ninja accompanied by his dog - but because of how miserable a picture it painted of Belfast.
Now, for those of you who are reading this who happen to live in Belfast, I don't have to tell you how unremarkable it was in the 1990's. Over the last decade or so the landscape has changed immensely - from both a commerce and a business perspective, again, both literally and figuratively. So admittedly, if we were to look back at pictures of Belfast from about twenty years ago, things were kinda drab. But not as drab as it was portrayed in Shadow Dancer. The locations in the movie were relentlessly grim and sparse when it came to Northern Ireland - it bugged me to the point where I refused to believe it ever looked that way. So I checked it out on imdb.com and sure enough, it wasn't actually filmed in Northern Ireland.
Of course, this is fine - using one location to double for another is pretty standard - but my point is that one of the main things people will be left with after having watched the movie will be to think how grim Northern Ireland is - yet again. You can check out just how many movies have used Northern Ireland's violent history as a backdrop here.
I think Northern Ireland needs a change. I know this place has had a tragic history. There are stories that needed to be told and audiences that needed to be reached. But, lets see what else we can do.
We have the talent and the enthusiasm. You need to look no further than the Film Devour Festival to see that. NI Screen and Invest NI are actively supporting local production companies (and if you fancy yourself as the next Terry George or Seamus McGarvey, check out some funding direction here).
This is just the tip of the iceberg - my point is, Northern Ireland is very capable of making something that people won't see coming. Instead of The Devil's Own, Resurrection Man, Fifty Dead Men Walking and Hunger - lets make our own Grabbers, lets have our own version of The Guard, lets see our own Commitments! Maybe this is the time when things just might change - Ridley Scott (Sir / Lord / Der Führer himself) will be producing 6 feature films based in Northern Ireland. Don't ask how this divine gift was bestowed upon us, just go with it. The movies will be "focused primarily on horror, thriller and science fiction" and "potentially provides an outlet for developing Northern Ireland creative talent".
The timing is right and theres a sense of a shift of aspirations here. There's finally a real chance for us to throw off that old cloak and put on a hip leather biker jacket that we found for a fiver in Rusty Zip. If you have the skill, the passion or even just the interest - Norn Iron needs you, right now. Write that script you thought was too far fetched, sketch out that monster design you've been thinking of, take a camera and go rip off Predator in Ormeau Park - get invovled!
We cannot WAIT to see what everyone comes up with.