Gary Lightbody, Snow Patrol frontman objects to the NI film sector cuts.
His interest in cinema has seen him compose several scores and, more recently, executive produce two indigenous movies, the Terri Hooley biopic Good Vibrations and Made in Belfast, the debut feature of local writer/director Paul Kennedy.
Last year saw Lightbody indulge his passion further when, along with fellow Snow Patrol rocker Johnny McDaid, he provided the soundtrack for the hard-hitting Amy Berg documentary An Open Secret, about child sex abuse in Hollywood. He also contributed music to the Jennifer Aniston film Cake, sci-fi blockbuster Star Trek Into Darkness, and action adventure film Divergent.
Despite his glamorous Tinseltown connections, though, Lightbody’s roots remain firmly planted at home, and he is fiercely proud of Northern Ireland’s creative sectors, particularly the expanding film and television industry.
He believes the industry is not only boosting the economy, but is opening doors and creating career opportunities for the young people of Northern Ireland. And for these reasons, he is angry at the proposed 50% funding cuts by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) to Northern Ireland Screen’s budget. While the proposed cuts won’t affect film and television production, they could devastate a number of education and exhibition organisations, should they go ahead. The various organisations – including the Belfast Film Festival, Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT), the Nerve Centre, Foyle Film Festival and Cinemagic – united under a campaign called #SaveNIFilm to oppose DCAL’s cuts. The campaign has been supported by many high profile names such as film directors Paul Greengrass, Danny Boyle and Belfast’s own Terry George. Lightbody is the latest to voice his concerns, taking to Twitter to describe the proposals as “lunacy”. The Bangor-born musician says that Northern Ireland’s film industry is hugely respected on a global stage and that now is the time to be investing more money, instead of slashing funding.
And he adds that if the cuts did go ahead, he feared a “brain drain” of potential young talent, which he says would be a “terrible loss” for Northern Ireland’s future.