Monday, November 24, 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

.

Solano News

Cadets raise cash to help wounded Air Force veteran

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Solano cities gather for Thanksgiving meal

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

Holiday boutiques in full swing

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Food Addicts group sets Thanksgiving Day meet

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Local government board schedules meeting

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Turkey Trot returns Thanksgiving Day

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

 
Holiday tree-lighting events begin

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

 
.

US / World

3 months after Napa quake, recovery rolling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US looking past Ebola to prepare for next outbreak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

Anxieties mount as Ferguson waits on grand jury

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Thief suspect falls through ceiling, leaves phone

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

1 killed, dozens injured in California bus crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

 
San Jose police arrest man after airport chase

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Surfer missing off beach south of San Francisco

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Crew blasts off for International Space Station

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

US tells Iran to consider nuclear talks extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Damage worse than thought in Japanese earthquake

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Joey Chestnut devours turkey to win eating contest

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Strong quake in west China kills 5; 54 hurt

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Boy with fake gun dies after shot by Ohio officer

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

 
Israeli Cabinet moves to define Israel as Jewish

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Former DC Mayor Marion Barry dies at 78

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Islamic State group recruits, exploits children

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Giffords rides in Tucson cycling event

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Suicide bomber kills at least 45 Afghans

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Some 30 horses die in stable fire outside Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Health care M&A leads global deal surge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

.

Living

Community Calendar: Nov. 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Nov. 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Horoscopes: Nov. 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

My sister-in-law expects me to pay her for damages, but she won’t pay me

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

 
Horoscopes: Nov. 24, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

.

Entertainment

List of winners of the American Music Awards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
1D, Katy Perry win big at American Music Awards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

‘Mockingjay, Part 1′ opens with $123 million

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
TVGrid Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

TVGrid Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
.

Sports

 
Speights scores 28 as Warriors hold off Thunder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Hyde scores go-ahead TD, lifts 49ers past Redskins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Federer leads Swiss past France for Davis Cup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Hamilton answers Rosberg in style to clinch title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Revs win 2-1 at Red Bulls in East final 1st leg

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sarvas puts Galaxy past Seattle 1-0 in West opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
First lady attends Princeton women’s hoops game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Stacy Lewis sweeps 3 biggest LPGA awards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UCLA honors Robinson, retires No. 42 for all teams

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Katy Perry to perform at Super Bowl halftime show

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NFL roundup: Seahawks roll past Cardinals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Athletics acquire 1B Ike Davis from Pirates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Leslie “Esi” Gros

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Jack I. Johnson

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

Dorothy Pouge Arnold

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Arthur Irving Weiner

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

.

Comics

Blondie Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C. Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baldo Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
For Better or Worse Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Blondie Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
B.C. Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baby Blues Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Dilbert Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Rose is Rose Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Wizard of Id Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Bridge Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Sudoku Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Crossword Nov 24

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7