The Home of Thrones: a case study of the screen industry in Northern Ireland

18 September 2019, 09:32

On September 18 at KYIV MEDIA WEEK, Andrew Reid – Head of Production, NI Screen will tell about the successful strategies of building screen industries in Northern Ireland and what was done for its promotion worldwide. He will also give his insights on effective international cooperation basing on examples of several world’s recognized projects including GAME OF THRONES (GoT) by HBO. 

As a Head of Production in NI Screen – the national screen agency for Northern Ireland, Andrew Reid will share his experience in building the region’s credibility as a world-renowned production center, establishing international co-production process, attracting investments to the screen industry and more. Building up the crew base, raising the quantity and quality of production, paying attention to local scriptwriters, directors, and producers promotion – is not a full list of what has been done over the past years.

Northern Ireland is home to many great shows such as GAME OF THRONES (HBO), MY MOTHER AND OTHER STRANGERS (BBC) and THE FRANKENSTEIN CHRONICLES (ITV) and a number of feature films including LOST CITY OF Z, MORGAN and THE JOURNEY. NI Screen works brings the opportunities into the game-changing reality and build a bridge between local production and world filmmaking industry. Northern Ireland Screen (NI Screen) agency's purpose is to promote the development of a sustainable film, animation and television production industry. It is committed to increasing the economic, cultural and educational value of the screen industries for Northern Ireland benefit. NI Screen was consistent in persuading American cable giant HBO to place a production on air the adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire in Belfast almost a decade ago. In total NI Screen has invested about £16m of public money over the eight seasons of GoT. That investment had produced an estimated return of around £251m to the Northern Ireland economy, in associated services and tourism. 

Since the premiere in 2011, GAME OF THRONES has become one of the greatest shows of the modern generation and made an enormous impact on the world. It was filmed all over the globe, including locations in Croatia, Spain, Morocco, Iceland, Malta, and other countries. But the one that stands out from all these beautiful places and became a symbol of the show – the production’s former home – Northern Ireland. Roughly 75% of the series was filmed on different unique locations around Northern Ireland. World success of the show gave the huge impulse to the tourism development - region’s coast turned into a tourist attraction for GOT’s fans from all over the world, who come to see the landscapes they are well familiar with after watching GoT.

Andrew Reid – Head of Production, NI Screen has joined the industry in 1990 as a production runner; he moved to London for BBC training as a television drama Location Manager. In 1997, he joined Northern Ireland Screen. As Head of Production, Andrew is responsible for the investment of Northern Ireland Screen’s $16m annual development, production, skills and funds. He oversees the delivery of physical production, project development, new emerging talents, and skills development schemes. Andrew has a BA in Drama, Film, and Television from St John’s York; got MBA at Queen’s University Belfast, he is an alumnus of Cass Business School’s Inside Pictures, a member of BAFTA and a founding member of the Irish Film and Television Academy.

Northern Ireland Screen has become the industry’s engine. When the negotiations on the first pilot series of GoT were in the process, Andrew Reid and the NI Screen team put all efforts to persuade HBO to run the production in Northern Ireland. A returning series had a vast effect on the economy, TV and film industry and provided a platform for infrastructure development and crew professional training on a long-term basis. NI Screen, HBO, and Warner Bros activity became a case study when they convinced the government to apply a tax-relief and tax credit for high-end TV drama. 

During his inspirational talk, Andrew Reid will share with the KMW audience the information about Northern Ireland film industry development and its plans for the future, including international co-production projects. He will also take a glance on the practical cases illustrating how they have significantly developed local studio capacity and contributed to the development of big local productions like the Titanic Studios and Linen Mill Studios, home to Game of Thrones, the Britvic facility and the new purpose-built Belfast Harbour Studios (which are currently under construction.)

Nowadays, Ukraine is undergoing huge changes in the content industry, constantly developing new approaches and reforms on many levels to become competitive on the international market and introduce a friendly environment for the international film community. So, Northern Ireland experience in industry development and reformation will help the Ukrainian media industry players to find the answers to many questions. In his speech, Andrew will share his vision on reformations and his approach to cooperation with the world’s industry major players. Besides, Andrew will elaborate on priorities and strategies as well as economic background and funding. What measures have been taken to build creative credibility? What were the pros and cons of long-term co-production between industry and HBO? 

Find out the answers to all these questions and more during Andrew Reid’s inspirational talk "The Home of Thrones: a case study of the screen industry in Northern Ireland" which will take place on September 18 at 11:00 at KMW (London conference hall). 

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