Film crew rolls in to shoot Dracula Year Zero in Northern Ireland
Roe Valley Country Park in County Londonderry and the old C&C factory in east Belfast are being used as locations for the latest blockbuster to be filmed in Northern Ireland.
Universal Pictures will shoot the sci-fi film Dracula Year Zero at the Limavady beauty spot for two days this week.
The film stars Luke Evans from Fast and Furious. The storyline, based on the original Bram Stoker novel, retells how Vlad, Prince of Transylvania, becomes a vampire to defeat the Turkish army who are trying to take over his kingdom.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: "We have wonderful landscapes in Northern Ireland. We are enriched with attractive country parks. Roe Valley is just one example and films such as this provide a great opportunity to showcase our natural beauty both locally and on a world stage.
"While we apologise for any minor inconvenience this may cause to the visiting public, there is no doubt that the spin-off publicity will ultimately lead to many more tourist visits. Therefore, the net benefits to the park, to the town of Limavady and to the rest of the North would far exceed any short-term inconvenience.
"I would like to see the film industry get their teeth, even more, into DOE sites and properties, and certainly am available to listen to any potential projects. "
Blood will flow instead of lemonade at a disused C&C factory on Belfast's Castlereagh Road, which has been transformed as a production studio for the movie.
On-site reports indicate that the pre-production work on the set is nearly complete for the movie which also brings Hollywood actress Sarah Gadon from A Dangerous Method to the city.
Up to 60 construction team workers still remain on site putting the finishing touches to the studio backdrop which has been built and painted, with the lighting gantry already installed. “Work on the set has been very well organised and seems pretty much on schedule,” said one of the construction team.
“The backdrop is constructed and painted with only the finishing touches left to do over the next week or so.”
Dracula, which has an expected US release date of August 8 next year, will be one of the biggest movie productions to be filmed here, with the promise of at least 25% of the total construction workforce being local.
While HBO’s Game Of Thrones is currently filming its fourth series over the summer, Dracula is the second Universal Pictures movie to be produced here since the studio’s Your Highness, starring James Franco and Natalie Portman.
The multi-million dollar remake of the classic bloodsucking tale attempts to tell the beginnings of the vampire Dracula, inspired by the 1897 Gothic horror novel by Dubliner Stoker.
It relates his attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England and the resulting battle between Dracula and a group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
According to Coleraine-based Irish folklore expert Dr Bob Curran, Dracula is very much an Irish tale, not a Transyvlanian one.
“It’s very apposite that this movie is being filmed here as the first recorded vampire folklore tale was recorded in Ireland in the 1600s.
“There is evidence that Bram Stoker was inspired from the legend of the evil Irish chieftain Abhartach, which was first recorded in Geoffrey Keating's History of Ireland displayed in Trinity College, Dublin, and loved by Oscar Wilde’s mother who befriended the young Bram Stoker.”
Northern Ireland Screen, funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund, has given the film £1.7 million towards it production costs.
Ulster is thought to have its own vampire, as local folklore relates that an evil chieftain Abhartach is buried in the Glenullin area between Garvagh and Dungiven, Co Derry.
The chieftain demanded a bowl of blood to drink when he kept coming back to life after he was buried. He was eventually slain with a wooden sword, buried on his head and his grave surrounded with thorn bushes.