In a week of firsts, the inaugural showcase celebration of Irish business and culture, IrelandWeek brought a star-studded, powerhouse conference to its centerpiece, connect353.
Taking place at Los Angeles’ famed Regal Cinemas @LA Live, connect353 attracted an extraordinary group of industry leaders – from speakers to attendees.
The exclusive presentations opened with Ireland and the World Economy: International Trade, Finance and the Brexit Effect with Irish Minister of State Michael D’Arcy TD and Irish Ambassador to the USA, Dan Mulhall.
Minister D’Arcy noted, “creativity links Ireland and Los Angeles closely,” a unanimous sentiment held by all connect353 speakers.
Director Rian Johnson and producer Ram Bergman then took the stage, sharing their experiences filming Star Wars: Last Jedi in Ireland.
“We had a great experience working with the locals at every location,” said Johnson, while Bergman continued with, “the disruption we caused to these small towns on the #StarWarsTheLastJedi shoot was huge but the locals always supported us.”
The day continued with Tourism in Ireland; Ireland’s Innovation and Creativity; Gaming: Serious Game Play; the Cultural Reach: Arts, Music, Culture and Education: Connecting the Dots; Ireland: Where Animation Happens; Making of The Breadwinner by Oscar-nominated Cartoon Saloon; and TV: Ireland’s Growing International Success Stories were shared by Showtime’s Melinda Benedek, VP Business Affairs on using Ireland as a location for the Tudors and Penny Dreadful.
“A place stars want to visit and good infrastructure are key considerations when choosing a location. Ireland is strong in both.”
Hollywood Reporter’s Ten Rising Irish Stars rounded out the day with IT Crowd / Bridesmaids and the newly released hit series on Epix, Get Shorty star, Chris O’Dowd.
Additional guests and sponsors included: Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Irish Film Board, Culture Ireland, Creative Ireland, IDA Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Aer Lingus, The Ireland Funds, The California Irish Legislative Caucus, Kensington Caterers, Bank of Ireland Global Payments, Grant Thornton, Silicon Valley Bank and the Irish Times Abroad.