Agtel and Independent Pictures: A Trip Down Memory Lane
Posted by Sarah Sheeran on 27 Feb, 2018
Agtel is now indiepics. If you’ve found this blog post because you’ve searched for Agtel, then rest assured yes you are in the right place. As of early 2018, we have rebranded and merged our video agency known as Agtel with our TV production company Independent Pictures to form indiepics. But we’re still the same crowd of lovely video and TV people you know from the Agtel and Independent Pictures days, albeit with a shiny new indiepics logo, some new faces on our team and some great new online campaigns and television shows rolling out under the indiepics banner.
For those of you who enjoy a bit of nostalgia, here’s a potted history of how Agtel and Independent Pictures got to become indiepics...
How Agtel began
It all started in 1979. Two college friends, John Cummins and Declan Farrell founded Agtel - short for agricultural television - having spotted an opportunity to produce agricultural training videos. The company found an office on Leeson street, and with a six month waiting list for a phone line, spent most of the early days hogging the phone box around the corner hoping they didn’t run out of pennies whilst on an important client call.
Despite many setbacks, not to mention an economic crash, the company survived the 80s and became established as Ireland’s first dedicated video production company. Then a “Dublin ag science” graduate Liam Lavelle was hired in 1984, and learned the ropes as a Producer on campaigns for early clients including An Bord Bainne (now Ornua), Anco and Bank of Ireland. As the decade wore on, Agtel expanded its audiovisual services into the European market winning its first contract with the European Commission in 1988.
In 1990, Agtel invested in a studio and post-production facility in Glenageary over what was then the landmark Deerhunter Pub (next to the spot where the Lidl store is today!). Agtel won the very first commission from RTÉ’s newly formed Independent Production Unit in 1993. That commission was Ear to the Ground. Little did they know they would still be making the show 25 years later in 2018!
Independent Pictures and 90s TV
The Independent Pictures brand came about in 1992 for the TV side of the business. Under that name the company went on to produce many more successful TV shows for RTÉ, TV3, TG4 and BBC. From the foodie magazine show Moveable Feast in the 90s, to factual series like Feud and Heist, to financial shows like Show me the Money and Rip off Republic in the 2000s.
In recent years award-winning series have included ICA Bootcamp, Ireland’s Property Crisis, Keeping Ireland Alive and Big Week on the Farm. Whilst Independent Pictures made waves on TV, under the Agtel brand, the company continued to grow its video production services at home and abroad. Conor Moloney joined the team in 1992 as a bright young spark. He eventually graduated from making tea and logging tapes to work on video campaigns and TV shows like Show Me The Money (more about him later). Outgrowing the studio in Glenageary, and waving a fond farewell to the ambience of next-door-neighbour the Deerhunter Pub, Agtel moved to Fitzwilliam Square in 1995.
Agtel’s video production in the digital age
As iPhones, news feeds and YouTube changed our viewing habits, Agtel expanded its digital and social media capabilities. Meanwhile, Diarmaid Mac Mathúna got lost on his way home from studying physics in Trinity College one day in 2002 , and ended up landing a job as a researcher on the Irish language series An Tuath Nua (again, more on him later). Daughter of founder John Cummins, Sarah Sheeran joined the team in 2011, and soon became Agtel’s first Digital Producer.
In April 2014, Agtel opened a Brussel’s office to help serve clients across all EU Member States and even further afield. Building on those first contracts with the European Commission in the 80s, Agtel’s EU work has expanded beyond the European Commission and European Parliament to include clients such as European Schoolnet, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Italy, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) in Ireland, Frontex in Poland and EUIPO in Spain today. Nathaniel Navarro jumped aboard in 2014 as Head of Design, followed soon after by Maria Gardiner as Head of Video. Sarah Sheeran graduated to Head of Digital.
Agtel and Independent Pictures becoming Indiepics
In early 2018, we rebranded and merged video agency Agtel with TV production company Independent Pictures. Today, client work for Irish brands includes video campaigns for Woodie’s, eir, the IDA and Zurich Life. Recent TV productions include My Broken Brain, Big Week on the Farm and This Crowded House for RTÉ and Doctor in the House for TV3 (now Virgin Media One).
Conor Moloney now steers the ship as Managing Director. Diarmaid Mac Mathúna looks after our video agency clients as Director - Agency. Orla Doherty joined us in the newly created role of Head of Creative to help bring our campaign creativity to the next level.
Our “Ag” name might now be resigned to the history books, but we’ve certainly not forgotten Agtel’s agricultural origins. We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve been producing ‘Ear to the Ground’ - one of the longest running RTÉ series - since 1993. And indeed Liam Lavelle our veteran producer still has his hand steering the plough (ahem). Marketing in the agri-food sector is busier than ever. We’re able to combine our industry knowledge and data-driven consumer insights to develop high impact, video-first campaign strategies.
As our 40th birthday looms in 2019, there’s no doubt indiepics has a long reputation to live up to. We always knew the video thing would catch on.