An unspoilt, rugged landscape dotted with castles and hidden gems awaits filmmakers in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is located on the island of Ireland and is administratively part of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland is the most compact location in the world – offering myriad stunning locations from beautiful coastlines to idyllic villages, mountains, glens and loughs, through to urban landscapes and bustling cities with a diverse mix of architectural styles, from Victorian red-brick to 21st century glass and steel.
Known for its castles, glacial valleys and rugged coastline, the largest city, Belfast is famous for the Grand Opera House, Botanical Gardens, Queens University and Belfast Castle. Other locations of note include Londonderry, Dunluce Castle, Carrickfergus Castle, Rathlin Island, Mourne Mountains, the Glens of Antrim, Downhill Strand, and the Giants Causeway.
Northern Ireland covers a small geographic area with all locations within a 2-hour drive radius. The world famous series Game Of Thrones was filmed at Paint Hall Studios in Belfast, Northern Ireland along with various locations around the region.
Surrounded by verdant hills, Belfast nestles in three valleys at the western end of Belfast Lough. Alongside the classic imperial structures sit some of the most striking examples of modern architecture. The historic walled city of Londonderry spans the River Foyle. It is a striking location in its own right, as a major city in the north-west of Ireland. The Kingdom of Mourne provides a rugged and austere landscape, where craggy mountains sweep down to unspoilt beaches and picturesque harbours.
Rich, flat farmland in the north slowly transforms into undulating drumlins which, in turn, become foothills to the granite batholiths of the Mournes. A hidden gem, Strangford Lough and its surrounding countryside, is located only 10 miles from Belfast. The largest sea lough in the British Isles, it reputedly has 365 islands, one for every day of the year.
The area also combines a mix of Irish Sea coast and rolling countryside, dotted with ruined castles, stately homes, quaint harbours, wind-swept beaches and beautiful gardens. An entire county, more water than land, Fermanagh’s lakes and rivers remain a well-kept secret. Upper Lough Erne is a reedy maze of islands, creeks and secret shores.
The castles of Monea, Cauldwell, Tully, Magherameelan, Crevenish, Portora, Archdale and Enniskillen provided a formidable ring of steel around the lough and the ancient monasteries of Devenish and Inishmacsaint stand like sentries on now peaceful islands. The Antrim coastline is simply one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
When to shoot
The weather in Northern Ireland is notoriously unpredictable, and it is not uncommon to experience a full range of meteorological conditions in a single hour. However, Northern Ireland has a predominately wet climate that can change in an instant. The winters are mild and the summers are relatively cool. June through September is the best time to film for sunny weather and long daylight hours.
Filming permits in the cities generally require a minimum of two weeks’ notice. However, under certain circumstances, this process can be reduced to seven days. Films are generally free to shoot anywhere, however commercial shoots are restricted from shooting on certain national sites such as government buildings. The standard shoot day is eight hours with an hour for lunch included. Lunch penalties apply after five hours from unit call.
Tax Relief Incentives
Incentives exist for visiting films and TV series projects. For films with a total core expenditure of £20 million or less, the film production company can claim a payable cash rebate of up to 25 per cent of UK qualifying film production expenditure.
Tax relief is available for British qualifying films. Films must either pass the Cultural Test or qualify as an official co-production
Films must be intended for
Films, including those made under official co-production treaties, must reach a minimum UK spend requirement of 10 per cent
Tax relief is available on qualifying UK production expenditure on the lower of either 80 per cent of total core expenditure, or the actual UK core expenditure incurred
There is no cap on the amount which can be claimed
The FPC responsible for the film needs to be within the UK corporation tax net.