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Insights from Industry Insiders: Alison Crinion, Communications Director, the Irish Industry Trust for IP Awareness

by Content Café, 19 November 2021

Each month we hear from industry insiders in Australia and abroad to get their take on content piracy. Is content protection improving? How do we stop piracy? How does Australia compare to the rest of the world? These are some of the questions we'll be exploring with leaders across the content industry.

Alison Crinion, Communications Director of the Irish Industry Trust for IP Awareness

Alison Crinion is a graduate of the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, where she combined Film Studies with her Fine Art Degree. She has a passion for film and enjoys many different genres – depending on her mood.

Alison joined Littlebird Film and Television in 2001 where she was General Manager of Denzille Private. During this time she cemented relationships with the film industry in Ireland across Distribution, Exhibition and Production that she still holds today. She hosted a great number of talents for screenings and events such as Joel Schumacher, Jim Sheridan, Quincy Jones, Colin Farrell, Susan Sarandon, Cate Blanchette and even Paolo Coelho.

As a freelance consultant Alison has worked as Marketing, Communications and Events Consultant for Sony, Paramount, Universal, the Irish Cinematographic Benevolent Fund and Screen Ireland.  Since 2013 Alison has held the position of Communications Director for the Irish Industry Trust for IP Awareness. This is the Film and TV Industry’s organisation dedicated to the protection of creativity and copyright.

Alison is also an experienced certified Yoga Teacher and owner of Namaste House Yoga School and has two Maine Coon cats, Kali and Krishna. Her favourite film of all time, Goodfellas – ‘As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster’.


Who are you and what is your role in the creative industry eco-system? 

I’m Alison Crinion, Communications Director of the Irish Industry Trust for IP Awareness. The Irish Trust is the little sister to the UK Industry Trust and we both sit under the umbrella of the British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE.org). We are the peak consumer education body for the UK and Irish film and TV industries, promoting the value of copyright and creativity.  

Industry funded, our aim is to address the ongoing challenge of film and TV copyright infringement. We do this by inspiring audiences to enjoy wonderful movies first and foremost at the cinema, but to also value creativity and always watch film and television content via legitimate sources.  

The Trust in Ireland works with a wide coalition of entertainment industry stakeholders across a range of insight led activity, successfully engaging with audiences on the issue of content infringement.  

For many years, ‘Moments Worth Paying For’ have been our flagship campaigns, sustaining high levels of awareness – we estimate here in Ireland they are seen by approx. 3 million people annually.  These campaigns are wonderfully supported by talent, who speak directly to our audiences in cinemas and online – both thanking them for buying a ticket and reminding them of the hard work that goes into making a movie. We have had great contributions from; The Rock, John C Reilly, Ricky Gervais and the entire cast of Magic Mike XXL.  

During the pandemic the UK Industry and Irish Trusts acted as allies for cinemas and our industry partners. The Irish Trust created online campaigns with our industry partners, reminding audiences of the magic of cinema. As cinemas reopened, we reviewed our messaging, ensuring that when ‘Moments’ returned to cinema in summer 2021, we were equipped with impactful and motivating messaging.  We relaunched two very different campaigns Kurupt FM gang from People Just do Nothing: Big in Japan giving us a cheeky irreverent message and the family friendly cast of Ghostbusters: Afterlife welcoming us with open arms back to the movies. 

With the assistance of funding from the Motion Picture Association, the Irish Trust created a series of Irish campaigns called #IMAKEMOVIES. This series of messages focused on local Irish industry voices and how they perceive the threat of piracy. This gave the Irish Trust the opportunity to work with great people like the teams from the Irish Film Institute, Odeon Cinemas, Cartoon Saloon, Cinemagic and even their ambassador, the magnificent Saoirse Ronan 

What do you think is the most significant impact of piracy on the creative industry? 

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of fresh routes to illegal sources of content. Apps and add-ons, social media and encrypted messaging services have joined traditional methods for copyright infringement, with the impact being felt across the entertainment industry.  

In Ireland, films make up 70% of pirated materials, and costs the Exchequer approx. 70 million in lost tax returns annually. 

Tackling online piracy requires a multi-faceted approach, which includes education for viewers. Piracy stops investment in the industry, and a first-time feature or small independent film needs every ticket and every legitimate view. Piracy prevents viewers enjoying more great small films with big hearts such as The Young OffendersThe Hole in the Ground and Sing Street. 

Does piracy affect your business or that of your stakeholders?  How?  

Ireland is proud of its rich storytelling tradition. We are a desirable location for filming, we have a strong stable of talent in front of and behind the camera.  The impact of piracy will jeopardise the growth of this wonderful industry. We need to protect the 18,000 people who depend on this industry for employment. 

Consumers need to understand that the amount of time, effort, and investment it takes to make a film or television programme is more than passion – it is also someone’s livelihood.  

Even a movie you hate still employed many people and gave a few of them the start and encouragement they needed to go on and get more work in the next film. 

Accessing content illegally impacts on those who work on set and behind the scenes, like the writers and caterers, to those working in the cinema, each person has a right to get paid for the job they do. 

What is the biggest challenge in the fight against piracy? 

It is hard not to sound preachy here, however, I’m going to go ahead and preach…  the lack of consequence is a huge challenge for us here in Ireland. When we look at the reasons why people infringe it mainly comes down to wanting to watch what they want to watch, when they want to watch it.  

If there are no negative outcomes to this activity, then it makes it very difficult to persuade people (especially 16-25-year-olds), that it is not okay to stream content illegally.  

The public see movie-stars and think that there’s no harm in ‘taking’ from them as they appear to have enough money to spare. Sadly, the reality is the impact of film piracy hits those who can least afford it.  

How do you think Australia is measuring up in tackling piracy? 

Piracy is a global challenge and the articles put forward by Content Café illustrate to me that Australia has mobilised the industry to act together in a cohesive way, supported by Government and ready to step up to the challenge. 

The pandemic was devastating to the film industry and it has been inspiring to witness the ‘return to cinema’ efforts and outcomes. What we have learned mostly is that we are better when we work together. 

What are you watching and recommending to friends at the moment? 

Deadly Cuts, one of the funniest films I have seen in a very long time. It has come along exactly at the time we most need a laugh. Written and directed by Rachel Carey and starring a strong Irish female cast it is a black as ink comedy about accidental vigilante hair stylists who go to great lengths to protect their patch, oh yeah and Mrs Doyle from Fr Ted is in it…amazing. 

In TV land, I’m glued to Succession on SKY, I’m a huge fan of Jesse Armstrong since his Peep Show days I am a sucker for a little creative swearing. Finally, as this is for Australian audiences, I am addicted to Married at First Sight – Australia. E4 started screening it during lockdown and now I’m on Season 8. It has taken me through some dark nights!!! 

What excites you about the future of your industry sector? 

Ireland excites me, we have endless possibilities here, creative talent, breath-taking locations and dark humour. Screen Ireland has announced its ‘Building for a Creative Future 2024’ strategy and it is showing wonderful investment in the industry, particularly in developing crew hubs across the country.  

I truly believe if we nurture our home-grown talent, we will be unstoppable and that’s good for the economy, good for the sector and good for the soul.  


Before you go, check out last month’s interviews with Annabelle Herd, CEO of ARIA and PPCA and Michael D. Smith and Rahul Telang, professors at Carnegie Mellon University and co-directors of CMU’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics.

 

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