Northern Ireland has long benefited from the filming of large parts of Game of Thrones in country, but with the series ending after its eighth season, the end is officially on the horizon. With estimates of the economic impact of filming pegging the number at over 225 million dollars, that’s a significant hole being left by HBO when the series departs. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Northern Ireland Screen chief executive Richard Williams did not sound the least bit worried.
Game of Thrones has delivered a number of revolutions in production technique and delivery of scale to budget. The idea that you could not sell the infrastructure and people and talent that produced that, I have absolutely no concern about our ability to sustain and build from the success of Game of Thrones.
NI Screen is the government-backed agency responsible for promoting and supporting the film and television industry in Northern Ireland. Mr. Williams is referring to the filming sets, artists, and technicians, that have been built up over Thrones’ tenure in the country. Titanic Studios, located in Belfast is the primary filming site for most interior shots on Game of Thrones, and Northern Ireland exterior locations have stood in for everything from the Wall to the Riverlands and the Iron Islands. And while replacing Game of Thrones might prove possible, Williams maintained that it might take more than one project to do so.
I would probably challenge a little bit the assertion that Game of Thrones as a piece of business is irreplaceable, I don’t think that is true, but it may take two projects to replace it rather than one.
Perhaps more concerning for Williams is the impact of Brexit, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. The Republic of Ireland remains a part of the EU, and a hard border between the two countries could have an impact on the Northern Ireland film industry’s ability to secure workers, especially last minute ones, for any potential film or television project.
The idea of cutting off such an important trade resource would be concerning.
Game of Thrones will finish filming its eighth and final season, in 2018.