Press release confirms Northern Ireland
By Winter Is Coming on in News.

A press release from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland has confirmed that Game of Thrones will be filming there in the third quarter of 2009. In addition they mention that a massive set will be constructed in Paint Hall, the largest film studio in the region. Below is an excerpt from the press release.

First Minister Peter D Robinson MP MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA, have confirmed that HBO, the USA’s leading pay cable network, will film a TV pilot in Northern Ireland this year.
‘A Game of Thrones’, is scheduled to arrive in the third quarter of 2009 and is set to be an epic project. It is expected that the production will utilise various locations, as well as build a massive set in the Paint Hall.
Mr Robinson said: “This is the first time that a TV production of such vast size and scale has been filmed in Northern Ireland. The announcement comes following the visit by the deputy first Minister and I to Los Angeles in March. It will be a welcome boost to the production sector, helping develop the industry here and bringing employment and investment to Northern Ireland.
Winter Is Coming: Great news. Shows the production is moving forward. Also lends credence to the rumor stating Scotland and Morocco as additional shooting locations since that source specifically mentioned N. Ireland despite it not being announced anywhere else yet.

UPDATE: Here is an article from the Belfast Telegraph that gives a little more info. The interesting tidbits are that the production is expected to last 10 weeks and could be worth £10 million to the local economy. Ran, over at the Westeros forums, has speculated that the 10 million pound figure would equate to an actual pilot budget of around $8-10 million.


21 Comments

  1. Ashli
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Guesses as to what the majority of the “massive set” will be?

    There’s no doubt in my mind that it will be the Red Keep. Or maybe some sort of interior setup where you can change it from the Red Keep to Winterfell’s great hall and make it somewhat interchangeable.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Bear in mind that the pilot supposedly ends with “the things i do for love”. I don’t think the red keep is seen until later. The giant set is most likely to be winterfell.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    You know something, of all the announcement so far this one is the one that registered with me the strongest. As in “holy shit this is really happening.” Fantasico! Perhaps it’s because there is government memo involved. Whatever it is i’m excited!

    Do you think that they will release the pilot to the public even if the show is not picked up?

  4. WinterIsComing
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Ashli: As the first Anon said, most likely the large set is going to be Winterfell. Definitely the Great Hall, the crypts and possibly sets of some of the outdoor stuff as well which they can film in front of a green screen and add the background images later.

    Anon2: Unfortunately, HBO generally doesn’t release pilots on series’ that they have passed on. We would probably have to hope it leaks.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    The most telling piece of this for me is that they state this will begin in the third qtr of this year. That would mean before Oct. If they are planning on filming in 5 months I find it very hard to believe that casting isnt done yet. They just havent announced it yet.

  6. WinterIsComing
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Anon: Could be they are planning on moving into production in the third quarter, with the filming to follow in Oct. I’m sure they are going to need a few weeks (possibly months) to build sets, acquire props, assemble the wardrobe, etc. before the cast arrives and actual filming begins.

  7. coltaine777
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Sure seems like they are spending alot of money for just a pilot. To have the minister’ office refer to the project as ‘vast in scale’ for just a pilot leaves me with the impression that this isn’t a one off project. They want to be sure before they give official go ahead. Winter …any idea what the budget is for ‘GAME’ Pilot ?

  8. Børre
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Does a big budget mean that its more likely to get picked up?

    I mean if they’re willing to put that much money into it…

  9. RopWrstlng
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m so excited for this. I just hope I’m not getting myself pumped for a huge let down, whether b/c the series turns out to be crap or b/c it turns out to be awesome but gets canceled after the first season or b/c it never gets picked up. I’m jonesing for book five too. Hurry George!!!

  10. monsterfurby
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Political support is always good. According to the Paint Hall website (http://www.northernirelandscreen.co.uk/page.asp?id=211) they normally expect productions that utilize the whole building to spend three point something million $ on northern irish cast and crew.

  11. Marko
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    A nice post on GRRM’s not-a-blog as well :) Hopeful!

  12. LC
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    I haven’t been this excited about any film or TV show since I first hear, almost exactly 10 years ago to the day, that some New Zealander was going to film J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”.

    I am finding this rather amazing.

  13. Anonymous
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    if the show doesnt get picked up I think/hope they will release the pilot to dvd. On a huge production like this there will probably not just be fans interested.

    By the way, I think Aquaman pilot was released…

  14. WinterIsComing
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    coltaine777: No definitive word on a budget yet. I have speculated that the budget will probably be in the range of $5-6 million per episode. Which would put it between ‘The Tudors’ and ‘Rome’. The pilot, however, may need to be more since they will be doing a lot of set building.

    The good news is that the choice of Northern Ireland as a location, and specifically the Paint Hall, may help keep production costs down. More on that in a further blog post.

  15. Anonymous
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    10 weeks is an *extremely* long time for a pilot shoot.

  16. WinterIsComing
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Anon: It is a 10 week production time. I imagine the actual filming will only be about 2 weeks of that. Of course, if the series gets picked up we would be looking at a longer filming and production time.

  17. Adam Whitehead
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    HBO takes longer to film its episodes than network. Network tends to demand one episode delivered every seven days. LOST is unusual in that it gets eight, but to make up for that they also film episodes concurrently (the last day of shooting for episode 10 is also the first day of shooting for episode 11, for example, and a reason why the cast has been split over multiple locations for most of its run).

    HBO varies by series, but I think it usually works out at four to six months for principle photography of each season. A network show filming 12 episodes would expect it done in three, by contrast.

  18. Anonymous
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Finally some actual news. Winter has been doing an excellent job drumming up excitement and speculation where he(?) can, but it’s nice to have something confirmed that we can talk about. WOOHOO! Production in quarter three. What does that mean for timeline on when the show would go to air (assuming its picked up)? Fall ’10?

  19. coltaine777
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    good work Winter…AGAIN LOL

  20. Anonymous
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    “The novels feature battles for the Iron Throne and struggles with supernatural ice creatures.”

    taken from belfasttelegrap’s website

    This just made me laugh. :D

  1. […] Ireland, and the use of the Paint Hall in Belfast, was officially confirmed in April, and GRRM weighed in with some thoughts and details as well, as we started speculating on […]


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