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Northern Ireland Screen renting Bombardier site as movie industry scours Belfast for film locations

By Margaret Canning

Published 23/12/2015

Luke Evans who played Vlad in Dracula Untold, which was filmed in Northern Ireland
Luke Evans who played Vlad in Dracula Untold, which was filmed in Northern Ireland

The aerospace company Bombardier has confirmed that it is now sharing a historic industrial premises in Belfast with Northern Ireland Screen.

The film and TV body used the former Cantrell & Cochrane and Britvic factory in Castlereagh for the filming of Dracula Untold two years ago.

Britvic left the site in 2013 after 20 years of production. It was then snapped up last year for around £3.3m by energy business Lissan Coal Company, which has since leased it out to Bombardier.

That left NI Screen deprived of useful studio space - an issue aired at board meetings of the organisation, which has brought productions including fantasy series Game of Thrones, BBC drama The Fall and others to Northern Ireland.

Minutes of the last board meeting of Northern Ireland Screen in September stated that "issues around securing the Britvic facility were currently being discussed with Bombardier".

And a spokeswoman for Bombardier yesterday confirmed that there had been progress with the talks.

"We are renting the building from Lissan Coal Company for warehouse purposes, and we are sub-letting a part of the building to Northern Ireland Screen," they said.

The new arrangement in east Belfast means two pillars of Northern Ireland industry - one traditional, one new - are sharing space.

Minutes from earlier meetings of NI Screen noted a concern about a lack of studio space in Northern Ireland.

Records of September's meeting highlighted a mixed picture for potential new studios.

"The development of Take 2 film studios had not progressed, but a studio at the North Foreshore funded by the Belfast Harbour in partnership with Belfast City Council was progressing rapidly," the minutes read.

The main existing destination is Titanic Studios in the Titanic Quarter, where fantasy series Game of Thrones is partly filmed.

Owners Titanic Quarter Ltd last year won planning permission for a major extension to Titanic Studios - thought to be the Take 2 film studios referred to by Northern Ireland Screen.

The new facility close to Titanic Studios would be made up of 43,000 sq ft of space across two studios.

Across Belfast Lough at the North Foreshore site, Belfast Harbour and Northern Ireland Screen hope to transform a former landfill site into studio space.

In other parts of the city, scouts for film productions and TV programmes - including serial killer drama The Fall, the third series of which is being filmed here - are also seeking out locations.

David Wright, director at commercial property agents CBRE, said suitable space was not always easy to find while the economy was improving.

"As things pick up, buildings that were sitting empty and could have been used for locations are now being refurbished," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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