TV3 is spending up to €14m on its soap Red Rock over the next two years. It’s the first new soap in a generation and a major investment by the Ballymount TV company.
“Red Rock’s ratings have been very encouraging,” TV3 boss David McRedmond commented. It has settled at a level “above expectation” of over 200,000 consolidated viewing per episode, he added.

Talks are under way for a sponsor, according to TV3 commercial director Pat Kiely. “I cannot recollect a programme in TV3 commanding such interest and positive feedback from ad land,” he said.
Ed Guiney of Element Pictures, which makes the show for TV3, said that Red Rock was changing the way soaps will be produced. It’s a “unique model”, rather like “guerilla” film making.
“The way to do this in a cost-effective way is not necessarily to build sets but to use new technology.”

The crew use a single digital camera and smart new ways of editing to keep costs down and increase flexibility. The economics of soap operas are different from those of movie making, according to Guiney, who’s produced major Irish movies including The Guard, Frank and Garage. Talent costs are smaller because casts are bigger and it’s more of an ensemble feel. “Also you’re not getting big movie special effects,” he says.

The cost of a big soap like EastEnders is about £180,000 (€240,000) per episode. A smaller soap like BBC 1’s Doctors works out at around £65,000 (€86,500) per episode. Red Rock’s cost is nearer to £50,000 (€66,500) per show.

“If we crack it and it becomes a permanent feature, then it’s very valuable – especially with international sales and spin-offs,” says Guiney.
The MIPTV festival in Cannes next April is where top TV executives from global networks look for the next big thing – and Red Rock will be pitched.

While Element makes a fee for producing the show, Guiney sees it as “an investment”. It’s all about getting “flying time” for new cast and crew members, to help create a better film and TV making community.

Red Rock is an Irish soap set in a fictional seaside town on the northside of Dublin. It was first shown on TV3 on 7 January 2015. It is produced by Element Pictures and Company Pictures.
As TV3’s first venture into soap operas, Red Rock is being promoted as a new type of soap opera much more like BBC’s Holby City or ITV’s The Bill with elements of typical Irish/British soaps.
It is TV3’s main soap for the foreseeable future, following the loss of Coronation Street, from which it borrows its main premise (the everyday life of a number of families).

The show is centred on 2 families (The Keilys and the Hennessys) in a typical middle-class Dublin area, and the local Garda Station.
All episodes are filmed on location or in studios based at the old John Player Factory in Dublin.

Red Rock is not currently available on any UK terrestrial channels.

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By Expat