'˜NI has everything Hollywood has'

The 'jaw-dropping' estate of Dundarave, just outside Bushmills, was overrun with medieval peasants and pilgrims last week.

For the former country seat of the Macnaughton family now owned by local company Randox was hosting the latest film to be shot in Northern Ireland - an adaptation of “The Pardoner’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Oaktree Productions is the latest company to set up camp in Northern Ireland, shooting on location in areas such as Crumlin and on the north coast.

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Starring Bangor man Allan Gildea as the Pardoner, this is the first of Chaucer’s famous Canterbury Tales to be filmed, with the hope that industry interest will enable the company to produce more episodes of pilgrim stories.

Speaking on set in the midst of Storm Caroline, Allan Gildea praised the quality of filmwork being produced here.

“We’re working at the mercy of failing light and a possible blizzard but that could work really well to show the harshness of the existence of how people lived in medieval times.

“Northern Ireland is definitely punching above its weight when it comes to locations, creatives, talent etc,” he said.

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“The Pardoner’s Tale is all being shot here in Northern Ireland. It’s just such a fantastic, creative hub when you consider that outside the great house here, they have created medieval London and a medieval market, all just a few hundred yards away from each other. It’s wonderful to be working on this estate, created by architect Sir Charles Lanyon. It’s just jaw-dropping.”

Also in the cast is actor Noah Huntley who has appeared in Snow White and the Huntsman and The Chronicles of Narnia.

“The Pardoner’s Tale is full of robust medieval characters, intrigue, and a healthy dose of violence! What’s amazing is how every aspect comes together. The fact that yesterday we were shooting riot scenes, then in a tavern, now we are at Dundarave, tomorrow will be a market scene. There is all this stuff all happening in the background and that’s a real testament to the crew up here. I have filmed here before for Dracula and given its size, little Northern Ireland really has everything that Hollywood has.”

Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Council, Joan Baird, agreed: “I really enjoyed my vsit to the set to see how the industry is bringing employment, not only to Northern Ireland as a whole, but to the local area as well. So many local people are involved as extras. Film shoots such as these and the Game of Thrones who were at Ballintoy on the same day really showcase what we have to offer to the world.”