Posted on Thursday 12 December 2013 by Ulster Business

General TQ

The developers of Belfast's Titanic Quarter expect to make a planning application for two new movie studios before the end of the year, providing a massive boost to the Northern Ireland film industry.

David Gavaghan, CEO of Titanic Quarter Ltd, told Ulster Business that plans for the studio complex are being finalised and are likely to be submitted to the planning service in the next month.

The new facility, to be located close to the existing Titanic Studios, will comprise over 43,000 sq ft of studio space across two studios as well as 23,000 sq ft of ground floor workshop space and over 48,000 sq ft of "ancillary support space" including offices for production staff working on films and television series.

"We will be applying for planning before the end of this year and we hope to get approval by the end of quarter one 2014 with a view to starting to build and having it completed by the autumn of 2014. We think there are one or two big projects imminent for 2015," he said.

The local film industry has taken off in recent years with international projects such as US network HBO's award winning fantasy series Game of Thrones shooting around Northern Ireland.

Much of the series is filmed in Titanic Studios, which were first established in the former shipyard Paint Hall in Titanic Quarter in 2007 when City of Ember became the first major motion picture to shoot in Belfast.

That facility has been developed extensively since HBO brought Game of Thrones to the province in 2009, but Mr Gavaghan said more space will be needed if Northern Ireland is to keep attracting international productions in future.

"HBO have been thrilled with Game of Thrones. Mark Huffam, the producer who was very important in bringing that here, said to us that it is fantastic we have had the success we've had with Game of Thrones, but you've got nowhere else. That helped us to understand that we need to create more state of the art facilities," he said.

Mr Gavaghan said that having recently visited Steiner Studios in Brooklyn – the largest US film and television production studio complex outside of Hollywood – Titanic Quarter had recognised the need to offer production companies studios of different sizes and additional office and workshop accommodation for producers, props and equipment.

"What we saw in Brooklyn was that Doug Steiner has created a lot of flexible space. At the moment HBO are using quite a lot of hinterland around the studio and that's fine. But this is a very good way of increasing the attractiveness of what we have here," he said.

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