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Filming in Ireland Focus: From ‘Star Wars’ to ‘Dawn’ – our little island is busy
19 May 2016 : Seán Brosnan
‘Star Wars Episode VIII’ currently filming in Ireland
Our little island, north and south, is currently aflutter with film and television drama activity.

First off, one of the biggest film franchises of all time, ‘Star Wars Episode VIII’, is currently filming in Ireland. After filming scenes once again on Skellig Michael in September 2015, the blockbuster filmed scenes this month on Malin Head in Donegal before moving to Mizen Head in Cork earlier this week. Construction was also spotted at Ceann Sibeal in Kerry and it is believed filming will move there later in the month.

‘Star Wars Episode VIII’ is being directed by Rian Johnson (‘Looper’) and sees actors Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver and Mark Hamill return along with new additions Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern. Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson is also returning as the villainous General Hux.

‘Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens’, directed by JJ Abrams, was partly filmed on Sceilg Mhichíl in the summer of 2014 and was a huge critical and commercial success, making over $2bn at the Box Office and garnering five Oscar nominations.

Hoping to emulate the success of epic Irish shot period dramas such as ‘Vikings’ and ‘Game of Thrones’, the pilot for period drama series ‘Dawn’ is currently filming in Wicklow. Morgan O’Sullivan (World 2000 Entertainment) is the Irish producer for the pilot, which is being made for US streaming site Hulu and MGM TV. The pilot is created and exec produced by ‘Without a Trace’ creator Hank Steinberg and ‘Black Hawk Down’ writer Ken Nolan. Robert Stromberg (‘Maleficent’) is directing.

The story follows a tribe of Neanderthals as they struggle to survive and hold on to their way of life after coming into contact with a family of Homo Sapiens.

In Cork, the Irish/Swedish co-production ‘Maze’ is currently shooting. Inspired by the true events of the infamous 1983 prison breakout of 38 IRA prisoners from HMP, which was to become the biggest prison escape in Europe since World War II, feature film ‘Maze’ is currently shooting in the recently decommissioned Cork Prison, and around Cork City. The lead actors of the film are Tom Vaughan-Lawlor and Barry Ward.

The film is written and directed by Stephen Burke and produced by Jane Doolan of Mammoth Films and Brendan J Byrne of Cyprus Avenue Films.

Up to Dublin and the six part drama series ‘Redwater’ is currently filming with locations including Killiney, Dalkey's Coliemore Harbour, as well as some scenes being shot in Dunmore East in Waterford.

The show is a spin-off of popular British soap ‘Eastenders’ featuring Kat and Alfie Moon (Jessie Wallace and Shane Richie).

The show will also feature an ensemble cast of Irish actors including Fionnula Flanagan (‘Lost’, ‘The Guard’, ‘The Others’), Maria Doyle Kennedy (‘Orphan Black’, ‘Dexter’, ‘The Commitments’), Ian McElhinney (‘Game Of Thrones’, ‘The Fall’), Angeline Ball (‘Shameless’, ‘The Commitments’) Peter Campion (‘Brooklyn’) and Stanley Townsend (‘The Hollow Crown’, ‘The Tunnel’).

The series, which is made in association with Ireland’s Element Pictures, is directed by multi-award winning Danish director Jesper Nielsen (‘Borgen’, ‘Through A Glass Darkly’) and will broadcast on BBC One in 2017.

Also shooting on location in and around Dublin is ‘Can’t Cope Won’t Cope’, a new RTÉ2 comedy produced by Deadpan Pictures. ‘Can't Cope, Won't Cope’ follows two Cork twentysomethings, Aisling and Danielle, whose relationship and lifestyle starts to spiral out of control. The series features rising stars Seána Kerslake (IFTA-nominee for ‘Dollhouse’) and Nika McGuigan (‘Traders’) as Aisling and Danielle. A strong supporting cast is headed up by Amy Huberman in her first project for RTÉ since ‘Your Bad Self’, ‘Norma Sheahan’ (‘Bridget & Eamon’) and Eileen Walsh (‘Pure Mule’, ‘Catastrophe’).

The six-part half-hour series is written by Stefanie Preissner (‘Solpadeine is my Boyfriend’), produced by Ailish McElmeel (‘Burning Wishes’) and directed by Cathy Brady (E4's ‘Glue’).

In Northern Ireland, where plans for a new 64,000 square foot film studio called Belfast Harbour Studios have just been announced, the latest Northern Ireland Screen New Talent Focus film ‘Bad Day For The Cut’ is currently filming.

Coming from the same scheme which previously brought Stephen Fingleton’s ‘The Survivalist’ and Michael Lennox’s ‘A Patch of Fog’, ‘Bad Day For The Cut’ follows Donal, a middle-aged Irish farmer who still lives at home his mother, content with a simple life. However, when she is savagely murdered Donal sets off for Belfast looking for answers - and revenge. The film is being directed by Chris Baugh and written by Baugh and Brendan Mullin.

Also shooting in Northern Ireland is the ‘The Lodge’, a 10 x 22-minute teen-drama from the Disney Channel.

The series, which tells the story of fifteen-year-old Skye who returns with her father to her childhood holiday lodge in Northern Ireland, mostly shooting on the 400-acre Montalto Estate at Ballynahinch in County Down before airing on Disney Channel in 108 territories across EMEA later in the year. ‘The Lodge’ has received funding from the Northern Ireland Screen Fund supported by Invest NI.

Also shooting up north is the Barry Devlin scripted series ‘My Mother and Other Strangers’, which is scheduled to wrap soon. ‘My Mother and Other Strangers’ follows the fortunes of a rural family, the Coynes, and their neighbours in the village of Moybeg on the shores of Lough Neagh in County Tyrone, as they struggle to maintain a normal life after a huge USAAF airfield with 4,000 service men and women, lands in their parish in 1943.

‘My Mother and Other Strangers’ is the first drama commission to be announced since the publication of the BBC and Northern Ireland Screen Partnership Agreement in March 2015.

Over in New York, Irish co-production ‘Return to Montauk’, a film co-written by ‘Brooklyn’ author Colm Tóibín and co-produced by Conor Barry of Savage Productions, is currently filming. The film, which is co-funded by the IFB, is being helmed by Oscar winning director Volker Schlondorff (‘The Tin Drum’) and stars Stellan Skarsgard and Nina Hoss. It tells the story of Max (Skarsgard), a married writer who goes to New York to promote his new novel, where he meets Rebecca (Hoss), with the two spending the weekend together in Montauk.

On the animation side, Cartoon Saloon, the team behind the Oscar nominated films ‘The Secret of Kells’ and ‘Song of the Sea’, have just entered animation production of their highly anticipated film ‘The Breadwinner’, which will also be produced by Oscar winner Angelina Jolie. Salty Dog Pictures are also set to go into production on their new children’s television series ‘Brewster The Rooster’.

Dramas just about ready to go into production include the fifth season of World 2000 and Octagon Films ‘Vikings’, filmed in Ashford Studios. The show has been a worldwide hit so far and has remained a top ten cable drama series in the US since premiering in 2013. It is also now the number one telecast on Thursday nights on cable in all key demographics in the States. Irish actor Jonathan Rhys-Meyers has been confirmed for the new season of ‘Vikings’ in a large yet unspecified role.

The second season of Irish language series ‘An Klondike’ is also set to go into production with the grounds of the Glengowla mines outside Oughterard in Co. Galway once again doubling up as the mining town of Dominion Creek. The first season of the Abú Media series received acclaim and recently won the IFTA Award for Best Drama Series with Dara Devaney also winning for Best Lead Actor. It was also picked up by Netflix UK where it will screen under the title Dominion Creek.

To keep up to date with what is in production in Ireland as well as projects in development, in post-production and pre-production, check out our production page.




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