James Flynn, coproducer of The Banshees of Inisherin, dies aged 57

‘Brilliant, witty and wise’, Flynn was attached to projects including Angela’s Ashes and Veronica Guerin

The death of distinguished Irish film producer James Flynn has been confirmed. He was 57.

Credited on such significant projects as Alan Parker’s Angela’s Ashes, Joel Schumacher’s Veronica Guerin and John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary, Flynn, also an important force in the reconstituted Irish Film Board, contributed greatly to the film industry’s current vigour.

The news comes as Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin, on which Flynn worked as coproducer, competes in nine categories at the Academy Awards.

President Michael D Higgins said in a statement Flynn’s death “represents the loss of one of the key figures in modern Irish film-making”.


The Oscar-nominated producer Ed Guiney, who worked with Flynn on Sweety Barrett 25 years ago, remembered him as an intelligent personality. “James was a wonderful person, a brilliant producer – he had an encyclopedic knowledge of film and was the smartest of all of my generation of producers,” he told The Irish Times.

“He made massive contributions to the industry at the Film Board, as a member of Screen Producers Ireland and as a producer.”

Flynn entered the business as head of development at John Boorman’s Merlin Films. When the Irish Film Board (now Screen Ireland) was re-established in 1993, he came on as business manager and later took the role of deputy chief executive.

It was during this period that the seeds were sewn for the industry’s current conspicuous success. He and Morgan O’Sullivan, a true veteran of Irish TV and cinema, worked together on large international television productions such as The Tudors, The Borgias and Penny Dreadful. A whole generation of Irish professionals, both in front and behind the camera, gained vital experience on those shows.

In 1997 he and his wife Juanita Wilson set up Metropolitan Films, which has been involved with more than 80 feature film and television productions. In 2010, Wilson’s The Door, a Flynn production, was nominated for an Academy Award. That same year, Cartoon Saloon’s The Secret of Kells, on which he was executive producer, was nominated for best animated feature. More recently, he produced the pacy thriller Greta for Neil Jordan, a long-time collaborator, and, in 2021, he acted as executive producer on Ridley Scott’s epic medieval drama The Last Duel.

Flynn was a board member of the Screen Commission of Ireland from 1997 to 2000 and of Screen Training Ireland from 1995 to 2000.

“He was witty and wise,” Guiney said. “He really made me laugh as well as always being a generous source of advice and support to so many of us. He will be sorely missed and is huge loss to the industry.”

In a statement, Metropolitan Film said: “All of us in Metropolitan Films are deeply saddened by the passing of our esteemed founder, colleague and great friend James Flynn, who departed peacefully on Saturday morning with his wife Juanita Wilson and children Alex and Anna by his side.

“No, words can adequately describe the immense contribution James has made to the Irish film and television industry over three decades on both a national and international level. He willingly and generously gave his advice and guidance to all who sought his counsel, from young emerging film-makers to established Irish and international industry practitioners.

“James fought his recent illness with courage, dignity, and positivity to the very end. For that reason we are acutely aware that the news of his passing has been an unexpected shock for all of us.”

President Michael D Higgins said in a statement Flynn’s death “represents the loss of one of the key figures in modern Irish film-making”.

“Over the course of his career, James Flynn made a remarkable contribution to the Irish film industry, both in terms of fostering the development of films by the Irish film community itself, and in bringing so many international projects to this island.

“Beginning with his work as head of development at John Boorman’s Merlin Films over 30 years ago, he went on to play a major role in the development of the Irish film industry over the following decades, as well as a leading contribution to training.

“From the experience he had in Irish film from its early beginnings following the reconstitution of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board and my appointment of Lelia Doolan as Chair in 1993″, he said.

President Higgins said Flynn was one of the first and “most valuable people appointed by Lelia and the Board”.

“James filled his role at the Irish Film Board with distinction. He was one of the most knowledgeable Irish people about film with a deep insight into what was required for successful film making and his contribution helped to lay the foundations for building what it is now such a successful Irish film industry.

“This included not only his time as Business Manager and Deputy Chief Executive of the Irish Film Board, but also the many years he spent as a board member of Screen Training Ireland and of the Screen Commission of Ireland,” President Higgins said.

“He went on to make a significant personal contribution to the industry both in film and on television as a producer and executive producer with his company Metropolitan Film, playing a central role in so many projects including his wife Juanita Wilson’s Academy Award-nominated The Door, Academy Award-nominated The Secret of Kells, Angela’s Ashes, KIN and Vikings: Valhalla amongst many others. He was of course also coproducer of The Banshees of Inisherin, which is again competing in the Academy Awards this month.”

He said, “James’ loss at such a young age is a huge loss to the industry and to all of us who knew him.”

“May I express my deepest condolences to his wife Juanita, to his children Alex and Anna, and to his wide circle of family, friends and colleagues.”

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist