‘The Pipe’ Wins at Japan Wildlife Film Festival



The Pipe was awarded the Global Issues award at Japan Wildlife Film Festival. The festival was held from the August 8th to 11th in Toyama at the Toyama International Conference Center. Directed by Risteard O Domhnaill, The Pipe is a story of a community tragically divided, and how they deal with the Corrib Gas Pipeline that could bring economic prosperity or destruction of a way of life shared for generations.

The Pipe is available on DVD in Ireland and the UK online at:http://thepipe.myshopify.com/. For more info seewww.thepipethefilm.com


From the Archive: Self Distribution

Pyjama Bus CMYK

Pyjama Girls

With self-distribution becoming more widespread, Film Ireland talks to three Irish filmmakers who made the decision to release their own film.

Competition for screens is at an all-time high with more films than ever before being released every week. Economic conditions put pressure on cinemas and films must perform on their first weekend if they hope to stick around. For distributors it makes it harder for them to take a punt on films that might not make an immediate impact. For filmmakers it makes it harder to find a distributor that will take on their film and at the right price. It makes sense then that more filmmakers are looking at the possibility of self-distribution with the advent of the Irish Film Board’s Direct Distribution scheme making it a more attractive proposition.Not every film can be released in this way and, if anything, it seems that documentary might be most suited to self-distribution. Documentary films can gather an audience from the outset of production, making partnerships with interested groups that can help when the time comes to release the film.

The Pipe and Pyjama Girls are two Irish documentaries that have done well having been self-released. So why did they choose to do it?

‘We looked at going with different distributors here but once we saw the terms and conditions we decided that we should do it ourselves as we felt that there was already a community of people interested in the film,’ says Rachel Lysaght, producer of The Pipe. ‘There were a lot of things to take into consideration including ownership of the film and how long the term was going to be. We just felt that rather than giving away all of the rights for a number of years it would be better to retain ownership of the film. We weren’t expecting it to be a huge box-office smash but we felt that a film that addresses these issues and is a David and Goliath story wouldn’t necessarily have a short lifespan and it could be a grower, so we didn’t want to tie up all of the rights with anyone.’

‘I always had that interest in distribution, stemming from a mobile short film channel that I ran for years on Vodafone called Wildlight,’ says Nicky Gogan of Still Films. ‘We went down traditional routes with Pyjama Girls and showed it to the distribution companies that are in Ireland. They liked it but they felt they would have to put too much into it to get a return because of the model they use. That was fine but I really knew there was an audience for the film, so the IFI agreed to put it on for a week and it sold out the whole week. They moved it from Cinema 3 to the much larger Cinema 1 early on in the week and it was a great success. That prompted us to act on the idea of doing something wider with it, so we spoke to access>CINEMA and the Irish Film Board and put together a list of contacts. We weren’t so concerned about rights but it certainly helped us to hold onto more of the profits from the cinema because there were fewer people involved. We try not to give anything away exclusively now. With a previous film we did an exclusive deal with a company for three years and they made a great sale near the beginning but they really have only made one sale, so that was disappointing.’

The Pipe Roadblock CMYK
The Pipe

For The Pipe, the timing of the release in December 2010 proved to be tricky. One of the biggest snowfalls in history covered the country and cinemas all over Ireland shut their doors.

‘The cinemas at that time were taking in a week what they would usually do on a Saturday night. The weather was horrific. That really damaged us but relatively in terms of how all of the other films were doing we did quite well and we were featuring on the box-office charts. Harry Potter was out at the same time though and that’s something we learned along the way. We couldn’t afford a film print so we went with a DCP (digital cinema print) and DCPs can only show on digital screens and they were in some cases being taken up with 3D movies, so if it was a toss-up between playing Harry Potter or a small documentary about a Mayo community, guess which film gets the screen! We did loads of Q&As and we went everywhere. A lot of the people from Westport also came to screenings and I think the audience really appreciate that and if they know a director is coming it’s more of an event and it’s more likely that you’ll get an audience. If those people engage in it then they become your advertisers because it really gets out through word of mouth.’

For the team at Still Films, the networks built up from years of running the Darklight Film Festival was a huge advantage in marketing the film. ‘We went about things in a way that we have been doing for gigs and the Darklight Film Festival in the past, like posting A3 Posters around the place and getting on blogs and also just using the goodwill of our media contacts to help us get the word out,’ says Nicky Gogan. ‘We had essentially three goes at it with the festival release, the IFI release and then the wider release. We used the usuals like Facebook and Twitter and we approached friends who might have big mailing lists. It was a case of managing all of the networks that we’ve built up over the years with the Darklight festival. The cinemas themselves also do their own marketing, which helps as well.’

‘We were working with access>CINEMA so we did a lot of community screenings,’ says Rachel Lysaght. ‘The Pipe had 6000 friends on Facebook and we tapped into specific groups that already existed that we thought would be interested in the story we were telling – human rights, Irish interest, environmental groups, anti-corporate groups. This was our target audience and if it moved beyond that all the better. We did a lot of community screenings. We also set up an area on our website where people could request a screening in their town and people would email us and if there were enough calls for a screening in a certain area we would contact them and find a venue and in some cases we might project it on a wall. Then I negotiated with the cinema owners as to what percentage we would get at the box office and we did the same thing with access>CINEMA. In the case of access>CINEMA, we pretty much screened off DVD and we agreed a minimum or a percentage there. When it came to individual or community screenings we would mostly do a deal with the venue. You might have a screening in a university where there could be eight people there or there could be eighty-eight people there and you’re not going to know until the night of the screening. So we would agree a minimum amount or whatever percentage of the box office. It might be, purely for example, a minimum 100-euro for the screening and 50% of the box office over that. At least then you know you are getting a minimum for the screening and there’s also an incentive there for the person organising the screening to gather an audience and we would also help by providing posters and online marketing and we would do local press.’

Having a group of people already interested in the topic of your film or a film around which you can build an event is key to finding your audience. ‘Each film is different,’ says Gogan, and therefore the approach will differ each time.

‘I think there are certain films that suit self-distribution. I think with Pyjama Girls it suited a slightly more traditional route and we did screen it in quite big cinema chains. With Nightdancers, an upcoming film about dancers in Uganda going to London to take part in a big show, there could be a live dance element to it and we could tour the film with their live dance show. That could generate a bit of buzz for the film by playing to the audience for the film. That could be the core audience and then moving out from that there might be the documentary audience and the arthouse audience. We’ve talked about doing something like that in the UK and then maybe something similar here in Ireland. It would be an event-based release and we would be thinking of alternative venues as well as cinemas for the film. And the director, Emile Dineen, is really up for it too and since we started talking about making the film we’ve been talking about how fun it’s going to be to get it out into the world. We’ve also been thinking about the possibility of doing a day-in-date release because there might be a limited amount of events based around urban centres, so it would be great to have the film available to the audience through VOD. So it’s a matter of tying in the complementary options that are open to you rather than being completely independent.’

Lili Taylor Gerard Hurley CMYK
The Pier

When distributors didn’t go for his film The Pier, Gerard Hurley released his feature-length drama himself in thirteen cinemas in Ireland. ‘I know exactly what my film is. Distributors want big boobs and explosions, they want slick production values and big names. I really had none of the above. I felt a release in Ireland was a possibility and because I’d done it with my previous film in the States on six screens, I felt some confidence that I could release it myself in Ireland. I just got out there and hit the pavement. One of the things I did was make up 400 small film posters and put up those posters myself personally. I drove around from town to town and I met people and I would get into conversations a lot with people and I’d tell them about the film. In the independent world I found that very effective because overall for me the film was very well received.’

Hurley’s plan was to get the film into as many cinemas as possible and he persuaded 13 cinemas to take the film on. ‘My plan was to release it in as many cinemas as possible around Ireland and try to get any media I could to support what I was trying to do. If you stagger the release too much, the national media you do can be lost. You might release the film in Dublin but people will have forgotten about it by the time you get to Cork. It’s really tough trying to get the film into cinemas. It’s a business for them and they want to know what the bottom line is. Some are more sympathetic than others but it’s all about rejection and you get kicked in the balls over and over again but you can’t take it personally.’

Making a connection with your audience on a limited budget is not easy and Hurley found it particularly so because his audience wasn’t the typical cinema-going target market.

‘I wasn’t making the film for the male 15–25 age bracket, the ‘golden horde’. My audience was a lot older. It’s hard to get to them but when you do, they talk to people and help to get the word out. The Irish Film Board were very helpful in supporting the film but you have to have a big budget to go out there and get people’s attention. You need an advertising budget or you need to come up with a creative online campaign. But even getting that right can be as rare as hen’s teeth. Every filmmaker bitches about not having enough money. Even filmmakers with a $10-million budget say, ‘we had very little money’ but I know that if I had another 25k I really could have kicked some ass in Ireland because strategically I worked out that I could have done a certain kind of radio campaign and I think radio is one of the most effective tools for hitting people in rural Ireland.’

All of the filmmakers agree that self-releasing your film is not to be taken lightly. ‘There is a huge learning curve. You can’t say strongly enough that this is a job usually done by someone on a full time basis, so nobody can wander into that territory and expect it to be easy. But I also think that if you really believe in your film, nobody will push it as much as you will. You might not have all the knowledge or connections when you start out but you’ll learn that along the way and hopefully people will see that passion in you and respond.’


This article originally appeared in Film Ireland Magazine, Issue 143 in 2012.


New! Directing the Documentary Course with 'The Pipe's Richie O'Domhnaill in Filmbase

(The Pipe director Richie O’Domhnaill)

Filmbase have announced a new weekend ‘Directing the Documentary’ course given by ‘The Pipe’s Richie O Domhnaill which will take place on 16th /17thJuly.

Have an idea for a Documentary? That’s a great start but have you thought about your audience, the research required, not to mention post production.

These are but a few of the many questions you need to ask yourself before embarking on a documentary. The course is divided into four key areas and is aimed at anyone considering directing a documentary. Practical elements are an integral part of this course.

Course Content

  • Developing the idea
  • Pitching
  • Writing proposals
  • Interviews
  • Shooting set up
  • The editing process

TUTOR: “I began filming on the Corrib story in late 2006 as a news cameraman. As someone also living locally, I felt that the true story of the locals living in the path of the pipeline was being lost among the hype, sensationalism and spin in the media. I, unwittingly, became drawn in by the dignity and intelligence of these people and over the next 3 years followed them in their daily lives, while at the same time researching into the historical and political reasons as to why this project was so controversial. I was amazingly privileged, not to mention unbelievably lucky, to have been there to record practically all of the key events over those 3 years, and experienced at first hand how the locals responded to challenges of Goliath proportions. I have a degree in Theoritical Physics from Trinity College Dublin but I feel my education only began the day I stepped foot in Rossport!”


Cost: €200 waged / €180 unwaged (Deposit: €100)
Dates: 16th and 17th July
Times: Saturday 16th: 10.30am – 5pm; Sunday 17th: 11am – 5.30pm

For full details contact grainne@filmbase.ie

Payment/Booking: To book a place on any of these courses please contact Filmbase reception in person or call on 01 679 6716. Filmbase Reception opening hours 9.30am – 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.

VISA, MasterCard, Laser, company or personal cheque, cash (all in Euros) are all acceptable terms of payment.

See http://www.filmbase.ie/training/long_courses.php for more details including our cancellation policy.


Read Aoife Kelleher’s interview with Richie O’Domhnaill in Winter 2010 issue of Film Ireland here

Read that ‘The Pipe’ receives European award here


‘The Pipe’ receives European award

Risteard O’Domhnall’s acclaimed documentary The Pipe has won in the Best Documentary category at Circom at a meeting in Frederikstad, Norway, this weekend.


With a membership of over 300 television stations spread across 38 states, Circom is a European-wide federation of regional television broadcasters.


The Pipe is a compelling documentary of Rossport’s struggle against the economic might of Shell and the tragic divisions that have split a once-peaceful and close-knit community. The film captures the anxiety, anger and disillusionment of years of conflict as well as their connection to the local environment, and the spirit, humour and heroism that sustains them.


The Pipe received an Honourable Mention from the IDFA Green Screen Jury and was officially selected for the London, Toronto and Palm Springs International film festivals and will screen in the Culinary Program of the Berlinale next week. It has also been nominated for the Cinemas For Peace Awards in Berlin, which highlights the human condition and human values.


Produced by Rachel Lysaght for Scannáin Inbhear, The Pipe was financed by BSÉ/IFB and TG4.


The Pipe is also to air on TG4 on Saturday 14th May at 8:10pm.



LIT FF: 'The Pipe'

The Pipe

LIT Film Festival

Millennium Theatre, Limerick Institute of Technology
12th April.

As part of the LIT Film Festival in Limerick, there was a special screening of the award-winning documentary The Pipe in the Millennium Theatre in the Limerick Institute of Technology on Tuesday, 12th April. The film, directed by Risteard Ó Domhnaill, documents the conflict between the residents of a tiny village in Rossport Co. Mayo, Shell Oil and the State about the laying of an underwater gas pipe which could potentially ruin the livelihoods of farmers and fishermen.
The film opens with an aerial shot of the West of Ireland which shows the beauty of the unspoilt landscape. The camera hones in on a fisherman – Willie Corduff in his boat talking about the generations of fishermen in his family. This highlights the crux of what is at stake if Shell manages to lay a gas pipe through this idyllic village. A battle of rights ensues.

In 1996 a natural gas source was discovered off the shore of Rossport. The State and Shell Oil decided that the gas could be pumped underwater to a refinery. Initially it promised economic prosperity and new jobs, but at what cost? The residents would effectively be sacrificing nature and its resources for Shell.

However, the residents were not informed of the dire consequences of a natural gas pipe running through their land. Not only was information withheld, but the residents of Rossport were not asked permission concerning the laying of the pipe. This raw, high energy gas pipe would run underground close to the homes of the residents. They were effectively bullied into accepting that the pipe was going to be laid despite their protests against it.

Their human rights, civil rights and safety were at stake. This caused immense frustration and resentments against Shell and the State for allowing this to happen. The fishermen ascertained that their livelihoods and the traditions of the land were at stake because of Shell’s greed for economic wealth, and that there was a constant threat over their jobs. Regardless of the lack of consent by the residents of Rossport, Shell Oil insisted on laying the gas pipe. This inevitably led to protests and numerous arrests for blockading the Shell workers.

Protesters were forcibly removed by brute force by Gardaí with some people receiving a beating by batons. The use of a handheld camera in the middle of the action effectively conveyed the aggressions and tension that was rife during the protest. Five men who continuously stood up for their rights were arrested by Gardaí. They became known as the ‘Rossport Five’. They spent 94 days in Cloverhill Prison for not adhering to a court injunction that allowed Shell workers to enter their land to lay the gas pipe. However their attempts for justice were in vain: the pipeline was laid in 2009 much to the dismay of the residents.

The Pipe is an insightful documentary that delves into conflict, injustice and the struggle to maintain lifelong traditions.

The LIT Film Festival will continue until Friday, 15th when there will be an awards night in the Millennium Theatre, Limerick Institute of Technology.


Preview: Limerick Institute of Technology Film Festival


Eleanor McSherry previews the Limerick Institute of Technology Film Festival, which runs from 11–15 April, 2011.

The LIT film festival returns for its second year and it has extended its run to five days. Last year the festival was only open to third level entrants and was a one day event while this year the event will be ambitiously run over five days and the competition was opened to the general public. In its inaugural year (2010) the festival boasted strong attendances and there is no doubt that this will be the same this year.

There will be a variety of talks, workshops, film viewings, an awards night, an industry exhibition and much more – all given by industry professionals.

The opening session is on Monday 11th April where the LIT Film Festival meets the Limerick Film Forum. This will feature a rehearsed reading by Dermott Petty of his feature film Time Travel & The Leaving Cert at 8pm at the Belltable Arts Centre. Dermott is a well-known independent filmmaker. He recently had a short chosen as a finalist for Republic of Telly ‘wants you’re funny’. There will be a Q&A with Dermott afterwards.

Tuesday will include a Media Industry Exhibition from 10am – 5pm with companies such as Tyrell CCT, AppleBox Media, L.I.T., SarMar Studios, D&P Products, Sony Professional and Avid Technologies exhibiting at the event. This is a must for anyone not only looking to buy film equipment but who also want to have a chat with industry experts. At 2pm there will be Sony and Online Editing Workshops, one of which is run by Rory Gavin of Reelgood Facilities, Dublin in the LIT’s Millennium Theatre. That evening there will be a screening of the award winning film The Pipe, with a Q&A with the producer Nigel O’Regan and the director Risteard O’Domhnaill, afterwards.

Wednesday has the first of the two competition screenings, which starts at 2pm in the Millennium Theatre, then later at 7pm will be the ‘Behind the Scenes’ film forum in the Absolute Hotel. Thursday has the second of the competition screenings again at 2pm in the Millennium Theatre. While at 5pm there will be a scriptwriting workshop with myself, where I will discuss a number of things including ‘freeware online script’ programs. Finally at 7pm there will be the premier screening of the short film Scumbag Millionaire, with a Q&A afterwards with the filmmakers.

Friday at 2pm will see a session dedicated to social networking for film, which everyone knows is the way the industry is going and it should be a good discussion. The week will end with the awards ceremony at 7pm in the Millennium Theatre, promising to be a very glam affair. Again the awards ceremony will be online and available to watch on live video stream on www.litvchannel.net. The judging panel will consist of members of the professional media industry, who represented technical and non-technical areas. So even if you’re not there you can tune in!

This festival is a must for any filmmaker or potential filmmakers on the West Coast.

Eleanor McSherry


'The Pipe' to Air on TG4

Risteard O’Domhnall’s acclaimed documentary The Pipe will screen on TG4 this evening at 9:30pm and will be repeated on Saturday 12th February 10:10pm.

The Pipe is a compelling documentary of Rossport’s struggle against the economic might of Shell and the tragic divisions that have split a once-peaceful and close-knit community. The film captures the anxiety, anger and disillusionment of years of conflict as well as their connection to the local environment, and the spirit, humour and heroism that sustains them.

The Pipe received an Honourable Mention from the IDFA Green Screen Jury and was officially selected for the London, Toronto and Palm Springs International film festivals and will screen in the Culinary Program of the Berlinale next week. It has also been nominated for the Cinemas For Peace Awards in Berlin which highlights the human condition and human values.

Produced by Rachel Lysaght for Scannáin Inbhear, The Pipe was financed by BSÉ/IFB and TG4.


'The Pipe' director Richie O’ Domhnaill to attend Siamsa Tíre Screening for Q&A Session in Kerry on Tuesday, February 1st

The Pipe

The Kerry Film Festival and Club Head Bang Bang are delighted to announce upcoming screenings of Richie O’ Domhnaill’s ‘The Pipe’.

The Pipe is a fascinating documentary that tells the story of the Corrib Gas Pipeline and its effect on Broadhaven Bay, Glengad beach and the tiny village of Rossport. The unique nature of the coastline has sustained generations of farmers and fishermen but is also, to Shell Oil, the perfect place for the Corrib Gas Pipeline.

The film follows three members of the small community and details what became of their quiet rural life after Shell Oil arrived and the resultant fear and anxiety which followed. Not only are the residents flung into a tumultuous struggle with Shell and the state, but they are also forced to battle with elements within their own campaign who seek to divide and control, as their community is torn apart by the stresses of choosing to support or oppose the oil company. Yet, despite the seriousness of the events surrounding them, their resilience and humanity never wane and, even in their darkest moments, their wit and humour shine through.

‘It’s a fascinating subject,’ says Richie O’ Domhnaill, director of the film, ‘and probably one of the most dramatic culture clashes in modern Ireland. The rights of the local farmers to their own fields and of local fishermen to their traditional fishing grounds have come into direct conflict with one of the world’s biggest and most powerful oil companies and when the citizens looked to the state to protect their rights, they found that the state put Shell’s rights above those of its own citizens.’

Richie will attend the Siamsa Tíre screening of the film, which takes place on Tuesday, 1st February  at 8:00 pm. The film also screens in St. John’s in Listowel on Thursday, February 3rd and in The Carnegie in Kenmare on Thursday, 17th February.

‘The Pipe’ is a story of a community which has been tragically divided and how the members of that community have dealt with a situation that could, if handled properly, bring economic prosperity for generations. Against that it will destroy the traditional way of life which has been for generations.

‘And while the story is completely modern it echoes themes that have been discussed for generations,’ adds Richie. ‘For example The Field, by Kerry writer John B. Keane, plays with many of the same themes. Who really owns the fields? The farmers who work them? Or can those with the money simply buy off the state?’

And while those are very topical questions in Ireland, the film has had huge success outside the country with The Pipe playing at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival in September 2010, while it was recently selected for the equally as prestigious Berlin Film Festival, where it will screen in February 2011.  The Pipe has been nominated for an Irish Film and Television Award in the Best Documentary Category and has also been selected for the upcoming Palm Springs Film Festival in California.

For more information on the Kerry Film Festival please log onto www.kerryfilmfestival.com or call +353 66 712 9934.