Friday, December 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

‘Game of Thrones’ puts Northern Ireland on the map

Britain Northern Ireland Game of Thrones

In this photo taken June 13, 2014, tourists pose for photographs on the North Antrim Coast close to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge lies Larrybane headland. Larrybane was the dramatic spot chosen for Renly Baratheon's camp in Season 2 of Game of Thrones. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

By
From page B6 | June 23, 2014 |

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Giants, dragons and vengeful queens have for generations populated Northern Ireland’s folk tales. Now, such creatures are visiting the land in a different version – on the sets for the hit TV show “Game of Thrones.” But rather than spells and destruction, they’re bringing an economic boost to this British province still healing from its past of political violence.

Fans of the HBO fantasy drama would recognize here the landscapes from the fictional land of Westeros – the castle of Winterfell, the seaside cliffs of the Iron Isles and the King’s Road leading to the north. About 75 percent of the show is filmed in Northern Ireland, both in natural settings and in the Titanic Studios in Belfast.

Since the pilot episode began filming in 2009, attracted by the local government’s financial incentives, the show’s presence has helped foster a film industry that is catching the eye of other Hollywood productions. And Northern Ireland is taking advantage of the attention by promoting the filming locations as tourist destinations.

The latest – and perhaps most illustrious – visitor is Queen Elizabeth II, who will tour the studio sets on Monday. But thousands have already been visiting from across the globe.

Cara and Tom Collins from Springdale, Arkansas, were in Ballintoy Harbour recently to see the rocky coastal setting used in the show for the ‘Iron Isles,’ a kingdom of rugged sailors.

“You can just close your eyes and picture everybody there,” said Tom.

The season four finale of “Game of Thrones” last week was watched by 7.09 million viewers in the United States according to prime-time viewership numbers complied by the Nielson Co. That makes it HBO’s most-watched program since “The Sopranos” in 2007.

But the numbers are likely higher since TV audience habits have changed since 2007 and “Game of Thrones” has fans globally who watch on local networks and via DVD or streaming services.

For Northern Ireland’s tourism industry, that represents a huge pool of potential visitors. The province hopes to use the show’s popularity to increase the number of tourists to over 2 million annually by 2016, from 1.8 million in 2013 – more than the region’s population of just 1.8 million.

Coach operators have created “Game of Thrones” tours, for which demand hit a record as the show reached its season finale this month.

“They are using some of our most iconic scenery in ‘Game of Thrones’ which is excellent,” said Arlene Foster, minister for enterprise, trade and investment.

Beyond tourism, the direct employment of local workers has been very important for the local economy, she said.

At the end of series four, HBO is estimated to have spent about 87.6 million pounds ($149.11 million) in the local economy making the show. The benefits are likely much higher when including other factors, such as the knock-on benefits from higher employment.

“This is a sector that we think has the potential to really grow” said Foster. “Around the HBO facility and studios will grow a skills base that others can use.”

Holywood – pronounced the same as California’s ‘Hollywood’ – is a small seaside town near Belfast that may lack the glamour of Beverly Hills, but is gaining a movie-making reputation of its own. Yellow Moon, a production facility based there, has enjoyed strong growth and doubled its workforce by being involved with “Game of Thrones.”

“HBO were a big catalyst in changing perceptions of what could be done in Northern Ireland. As the Americans say, it was a game changer,” said Managing Director Greg Darby.

Five years ago, 80 percent of Yellow Moon’s work was for local broadcasters, and just 20 percent for productions based in the U.K. or further afield. Now, 70 percent of their work is commissioned outside Northern Ireland.

“‘Game of Thrones’ are directly or indirectly responsible for 80 percent of the people that we have taken on in the last three years, because if they didn’t come we wouldn’t have the other work,” said Darby.

Scott Ferguson’s story illustrates what “Game of Thrones” means for young creative people in Northern Ireland.

He dreamt of being a film editor, but his first experience in the industry failed to lead to more work, so he took a job in a bank. Then five years ago a government training scheme lead to a placement at Yellow Moon and he is now a colorist on the show, adding mood and tone to the images in post-production, and on his way to becoming an expert in his field.

Ferguson is confident that people like him will no longer need to emigrate to seek work in film and TV, now that Northern Ireland’s reputation as a production hub is growing.

“We have world class facilities, and we now have a world class crew. We have a shooting crew and we have a post crew who have worked on the biggest, most watched, most successful TV show that has been around for a while,” he said.

Statistics can’t do justice to the “Game of Thrones” effect on Northern Ireland’s economy, said economist Graham Brownlow, from Queens University Belfast. He says the show is helping to improve the province’s international image, which for decades had become synonymous with political violence and economic stagnation.

“The real benefits that Northern Ireland secures are the things that are most difficult to measure” he explained. “By creating a critical mass for film and TV productions it creates a good image for Northern Ireland, which stimulates further production in Northern Ireland, which improves the image of Northern Ireland,” Brownlow said.

That ‘critical mass’ now includes ‘Dracula Untold’, a Universal Pictures movie with an October 2014 release date and Ridley Scott’s new ‘Halo’ feature, which is also expected to be released before the end of the year.

These and other features will need best boys, wardrobe assistants, carpenters, camera operators and colorists and Northern Ireland’s new local talent pool will be only too happy to oblige.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    Sondheim’s ‘Woods’ holiday showcase for Missouri Street Theatre

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Groundbreakings, ribbon-cuttings play role in civic life

    By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

    Frankye Kelly ready to spread holiday cheer

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

     
    Celebrate the magic of Christmas

    By Tony Wade | From Page: A2, 2 Comments

     
    Santas have busy week at schools

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

     
    Safe streets task force work nets 3

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 2 Comments

     
     
    Solano College approves officers, meeting schedule

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

    Longtime Suisun harbor master to retire

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

     
     
    Fairfield police log: Dec. 17, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Suisun City police log: Dec. 17, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

    Police arrest 2nd suspect in Fairfield credit union robbery

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    US / World

    Spy’s parents search for son after Cuba-US deal

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Hope and some fear in Cuba amid thaw with US

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Sony hacking fallout puts all companies on alert

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Sony film took aim at North Korea’s biggest taboo

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

     
    Timeline of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
     
    Local emergencies in Northern California counties after rain

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    California’s top utility regulator defends record

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    ‘Pretty horrible’ scene; car slams into crowd

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Police: Drunk man shot while entering wrong house

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

    Tsarnaev appears in court for 1st time since 2013

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    President signs legislation ending Nazi benefit checks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    2 states challenge Colorado marijuana legalization

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

     
    ‘Prison Houdini’ set to make his 1st legal escape

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

    Top Islamic militants killed; more US troops going to Iraq

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

     
    Feds sue NYC over Rikers Island jail violence

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

    Russian sailors leaving France without warship

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

     
    Putin: West wants to defang, declaw Russian bear

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    European court rules obesity can be a disability

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    Suspected Islamic extremists kidnap 185 in Nigeria

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

    .

    Opinion

    Another look at school bonds

    By George Guynn Jr. | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

     
    Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 19, 2014

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

    News of the day strikes a chord

    By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 10 Comments

     
     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Dec. 19, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

     
    Community Calendar: Dec. 19, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: Dec. 19, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D8

     
    Should I use Child Protective Services threat to get back rent?

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D8

    .

    Entertainment

    Week in preview Dec. 19-25, 2014

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

     
    Sweet ‘Night at the Museum’ bids farewell to Robin Williams

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Craig Ferguson to end 10 years as host of ‘Late Late Show’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Eric Idle brings ‘Not the Messiah’ to Carnegie Hall

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Entertainment calendar Dec. 19, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

    .

    Sports

    A’s trade All-Star catcher Derek Norris to Padres

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    Warriors beat Thunder 114-109 after Durant injury

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    A’s acquire lefty De La Rosa from Arizona for cash

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    Raiders defense depleted by injuries

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    49ers’ Harbaugh mum on reported offer from Michigan

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    49ers’ Aldon Smith hopes to build off tough year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    Column: Thaw in US-Cuba relations warms up MLB

    By Jim Litke | From Page: B8

    Rivera: Newton ‘probably’ will start vs. Browns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Bears bench QB Jay Cutler for Clausen

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    ‘Hands Up’ players to attend Ferguson Christmas party

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Celtics trade Rondo to Mavericks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Rodriguez boys open Les Curry Tournament with victory

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

     
    39 bowl games and a reason to watch every one

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Signups for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

     
    This date in sports history for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

    Sports on TV/Local sports for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B11

     
    .

    Business

    Roomiest Subaru Legacy debuts for 2015

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

     
    Dow industrials have their best day in three years

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    Ford expands drivers air bag recall nationwide

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    Constantly changing online prices stump shoppers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    .

    Obituaries

    Lisa Dee McHughes

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Dominic C. Scolaro

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    Ernest “Ernie” Moretti

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Travis Curt Price

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

    Jennie Ponce Reyes

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Patricia “Pat” Anne Stringfield-Pierre

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics