Risteard Ó’ Domhnail – ‘The Pipe’

aineRisteard Ó’ Domhnaill director of ‘The Pipe’, is interested in the use of the internet as a form of connecting with the public in order to form art projects. Aine Ni Fhaolain invited him to make some comment about his new documentary ‘On The Horizon’ and the responses to his most recent online Fundit.ie campaign.

One of the essential questions ON THE HORIZON will seek to answer is the level of tax that will accrue to the Irish State from the exploitation of this resource, and what control or oversight the Irish State can exert.

“I really believe that if this story isn’t told this year, it will be too late. If Ireland’s recent history and Corrib, in particular, have taught us anything, it’s that without the proper checks and balances, large international corporations, who are beholden to their share holders and not to any sovereign state, do not have the best interests of the Irish people in mind. Due to this, and in the absence of real political leadership and courage, offshore exploration, which should be a great economic and social benefit, could become a curse. This is something that I’m loathe to see happen,” says Risteard, “no one minds companies making a profit but there has to be a fair balance and we cannot end up in a situation where money which rightfully belongs to the people of Ireland is siphoned off through clever tax structures” says Risteard

And, with so many questions to be answered, Risteard believes the crowd sourcing website, Fundit.ie, provides a perfect funding fit for him. “I think the crowd sourcing model presents fantastic opportunities for film makers who don’t believe in being answerable to anything other than the truth or to anyone other than their audience,” says Risteard. “I want this to be a totally fair documentary which examines the facts and hears opinions from all sides, and then presents a viable way forward that will benefit all concerned. Exploration is going to happen but it is important that the people of Ireland know how big a resource it has and are aware of who will ultimately benefit. After that, it’s up to the audience themselves to make judgment based on the facts and the arguments presented in the documentary.”

Aine Ni Fhaolain

AWARD WINNING IRISH FILM MAKER, RISTEARD Ó’ DOMHNAILL, TO EXPLORE THE BEHIND-THE-SCENES STORY OF IRELAND’S OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY IN GROUND-BREAKING NEW DOCUMENTARY

Maverick Film Maker Forgoes Traditional Funding in Favor of Crowd-Sourcing Using Fundit.ie For New Documentary

Risteard Ó’ Domhnaill who lives in Galway is interested in the use of the internet as a form of connecting with the public in order to form art projects. Readers all over the world in this the year of the gathering are hungry to know what is going on in their local areas. Aine Ni Fhaolain invited Risteard O’ Domhnaill to make some comment about the responses to his most recent online campaign. She discovered he’s the rarest of breeds. He is a documentary film maker with the ability to go beyond the spin and propaganda, with a keen eye for the smaller personal details that are at the heart of every massive news story. These attributes served him admirably when producing and directing THE PIPE, a brilliantly illuminative documentary about the community at the centre of the Corrib Gas controversy. The Galway Review is publishing the following so that this work may be known worldwide. ‘Support from local, national and international interested parties would greatly enhance the production’ says Aine Ni Fhaolain, director of The Day I Saw You recently screened at Colours Fringe Festival, Galway.

Risteard O’ Domhnaill’s documentary ‘The Pipe’, funded by the Irish Film Board, TG4 and TSR Swiss, went on to win numerous awards, including the IFTA Award for Best Documentary and the International Green Award, To date has been shown in 25 countries; on four continents. The reasons behind its success are clear; it shone a light into the dark underbelly of political and corporate relationships and, yet, it did this through the telling of immensely personal stories that resonated far beyond the shores of North-West Mayo.

“THE PIPE told the story of the residents of Rossport, a remote costal community on the west coast of Ireland. The residents took on the might of the oil companies and this led to the most dramatic clash of cultures to take place in modern Ireland,” says Risteard.
“When the citizens looked to their state for protection, they found that the right to lay a pipeline had been put ahead of their health, safety and environment. Living locally on my uncle’s farm at the time, I was fascinated by the contrast between the ‘official’ spin and the reality on the ground. I felt that the ordinary local people were being misrepresented by others, with certain agendas, who felt they had the right to speak for them. I felt very strongly that they should have the opportunity to tell their own story, and more to make a record of what was really happening, rather than as any grand plan for a cinematic documentary, I began filming events as they unfolded.”

Risteard is a true independent and has decided to forgo more traditional funding routes for his next documentary. He will, instead, appeal directly to his audience through a Fundit campaign and the readers of The Galway Review through their own interest as they may wish to contribute information or other forms support that will aid the progress of this documentary and campaign.

“I think if you want to retain a truly independent voice and have absolute control over the finished documentary then approaching the audience directly is worth exploring,” says Risteard. “Crowd sourcing will allow me to retain full creative control over the project, while also getting the audience on board from the very beginning.” This is what Risteard said when asked to make some comment for the Galway Review.

His new documentary, ON THE HORIZON, is, in a way, a follow-on to The Pipe. While The Pipe explored the impact of decisions taken in government and industry, at a time and place far removed from the community of Rossport; ON THE HORIZON, will investigate the decisions themselves, taken back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and from there visit communities who will have to live with the impact of those decisions as they lie on the verge of transformation by the emerging oil and gas industry.

Why, for example, was Minister Justin Keating’s 1975 ‘Norwegian style’ terms, which would have seen the Irish State benefit massively from exploration in its waters, dismantled by ministers Ray Burke and Bertie Ahern? ON THE HORIZON will look at the consequences of these political decisions, and what it means for the exploitation of Irish oil & gas resources. “I plan on looking at past drilling programs and current exploration activity with the ultimate aim of setting out a realistic picture of what is happening today and what the future holds for the Irish Offshore. I also think it’s important to speak to the corporations involved; this isn’t necessarily a black and white issue, oil exploration is a risky business and it’s important to hear their side of the story,” adds Risteard. This is a passionate man!

Risteard hasn’t, however, forgotten the crux of the Corrib Gas debacle. “Given all that has happened in Ireland over the past decade, the documentary will also explore any links between the awarding of exploration licenses and incredibly favorable tax concessions in the context of questionable political relationships,” says Risteard.

While the documentary will take an overarching look at the industry in general, Risteard will also spend time with the people who will be directly affected by oil and gas development, paying particular attention to what exploration means to the future of their communities and the environment. A work colleague has commented on the dedication to the project which is a driving force to his curiosity about these issues. “In regard to Corrib, I was curious as to why the Irish State would put its resources at the behest of one the world’s most powerful oil companies,” says Risteard. “We’re just a small sovereign state and yet our political leaders are happy to hand legal and political powers, not to mention our security forces, to the international oil companies, to the detriment of its own citizens. I am surprised by the lack of appetite for the story among mainstream media outlets; welcoming the opportunity to voice this in Galway Review whom I understand have an excess of 50,000 hits.
With a few notable exceptions, there seems a reluctance to critically examine the story of Ireland’s oil and gas and I feel, that now, a new approach is needed in order to delve deeper into this critically important issue.” This is why it appears to me that Risteard strongly feels the need for a Galway link as much as a worldwide attention.

“I think it’s important to put things into context and so l’ll look at similar coastal communities in Norway and Newfoundland, which have undergone enormous transformation as a result of oil exploration and production on a massive scale,” adds Risteard. “It’s essential that the Irish state balances the potential economic benefit with the social and environmental costs. And, given what has happened with the Corrib field, we will try to discover whose interests are being served most with this sudden push to open up the Irish Offshore. It may well be that lessons have been learned from Rossport and so I’d like to give all sides an opportunity to air their views.” So here is an opportunity and an invitation to contribute in whatever way possible with only days to go until the Fundit.ie deadine.

As with THE PIPE, this latest documentary is timely; Exxon Mobil has brought in one of the world’s biggest oil rigs to drill a $100 million well in the deepwater Porcupine basin off the coast of Kerry. With Ireland increasingly being seen as a viable area for exploration, other major oil companies are entering the Irish scene and previously drilled prospects are now looking increasingly attractive to them. The very favorable tax concessions, and decisions under Ray Burke and Bertie Ahern to remove State participation and control in relation to exploration licenses, effectively ‘privatising’ the Irish Offshore, means that Atlantic Ireland has now become “a very exciting petroleum province” with massive potential – a recoverable value of up to $2 trillion according to industry experts. One of the essential questions ON THE HORIZON will seek to answer is the level of tax that will accrue to the Irish State from the exploitation of this resource, and what control or oversight the Irish State can exert.

“I really believe that if this story isn’t told this year, it will be too late. If Ireland’s recent history and Corrib, in particular, have taught us anything, it’s that without the proper checks and balances, large international corporations, who are beholden to their share holders and not to any sovereign state, do not have the best interests of the Irish people in mind. Due to this, and in the absence of real political leadership and courage, offshore exploration, which should be a great economic and social benefit, could become a curse. This is something that I’m loathe to see happen,” says Risteard, “no one minds companies making a profit but there has to be a fair balance and we cannot end up in a situation where money which rightfully belongs to the people of Ireland is siphoned off through clever tax structures” says Risteard

And, with so many questions to be answered, Risteard believes the crowd sourcing website, Fundit.ie, provides a perfect funding fit for him. “I think the crowd sourcing model presents fantastic opportunities for film makers who don’t believe in being answerable to anything other than the truth or to anyone other than their audience,” says Risteard. “I want this to be a totally fair documentary which examines the facts and hears opinions from all sides, and then presents a viable way forward that will benefit all concerned. Exploration is going to happen but it is important that the people of Ireland know how big a resource it has and are aware of who will ultimately benefit. After that, it’s up to the audience themselves to make judgment based on the facts and the arguments presented in the documentary.”

Following the premiere of the film, which is aimed for the summer of 2014, Risteard will take the film “to every town and village in the country. We would like people to become very involved and to be advocates for the issues raised in the film. Whether that’s speaking at the many events planned alongside the screenings or facilitating the distribution of the film in various ways. I hope the film will become a platform to provoke debate on the issue of Ireland’s oil and gas.”

“The support and engagement of ordinary people, not bureaucrats, will define the production and distribution of the film and, while it presents a huge challenge for me, I’m really looking forward to the journey. Films live and die by their audience and I believe this is a story worth telling; I just hope that there are enough people out there who believe in me,” adds Risteard.

Given Risteard’s success with THE PIPE, his penchant for telling deep personal stories, beautifully intertwined in a broader narrative, his determination and clear independent voice, one can only hope that there are enough people out there who do believe in him. It would be to Ireland’s eternal shame if the questions he so longs to ask were never answered.

Aine Ni Fhaolain

Additional Info
To See Risteard’s Fundit Campaign Please Log Onto: http://www.fundit.ie/project/on-the-horizon
Trailer: https://vimeo.com/66662176
Primetime interview with Risteard for The Pipe: https://vimeo.com/41020426
IFTA Award for ‘The Pipe’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP9auWfFe3c
High Res Images Available
Interview with Director, Risteard O’ Domhnaill, available: richie.odonnell@gmail.com
For Justin Keating Quotes Please Email: richie.odonnell@gmail.com
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For More information please Contact: Risteard O’ Domhnaill
Phone: + 353 (87) 285 9749
Email: drillireland@gmail.com

To See Risteard’s Fundit Campaign Please Log Onto: http://www.fundit.ie/project/on-the-horizon
Trailer: https://vimeo.com/66662176
High Res Images Available
Interview with Director, Risteard O’ Domhnaill, available: richie.odonnell@gmail.com
For more from interview with former Minister Justin Keating, please email: richie.odonnell@gmail.com
Primetime interview with Risteard for The Pipe: https://vimeo.com/41020426

Aine Ni Fhaolain is the director of ‘The Day I Saw You’ and is currently working on the Galway Pussy Riot experimental documentary. Aine has had documentaries shown in various film festivals internationally. She has an active interest in political and social issues in Ireland.

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