Setting the scene in Ulster

Tollymore Forest Park, one of the locations used for Dracula Untold
Tollymore Forest Park, one of the locations used for Dracula Untold

Be a ‘set-jetter’ this summer and visit some of the castles, beaches, and forests around the province which have been used as film locations for a range of diverse and hugely popular shows including Game of Thrones, The Fall and Blandings

Northern Ireland has gained a reputation as the go-to location for big film and television production companies thanks to its breathtaking scenery, unique bio-diversity infrastructure and great transport links.

American TV company, HBO continues to use Northern Ireland’s mountains and forests to help set the scene for the phenomenally successful Game of Thrones and last year, Hollywood rolled into town to film Dracula Untold, with a cast and crew of hundreds and armed with a $100m budget, some of which was spent locally.

“When Hollywood comes to town you know you’re doing something right”, said Laura McCorry, Tourism Northern Ireland director of Product Development.

“And Northern Ireland can boast several big projects over the last number of years with more to come.”

Big screen movies filmed in Northern Ireland over the last number of years include Good Vibrations starring Richard Dormer, Your Highness starring Hollywood names James Franco and Natalie Portman and City of Ember starring Bill Murray.

Laura continued: “With the unique Paint Hall Film Studios facility in Titanic Quarter, countless breathtaking landscapes to choose from and a wealth of local talent, Northern Ireland is increasingly being mentioned by Hollywood executives at brainstorms, by hip filmmakers looking for scene-stealing backdrops and location managers seeking atmosphere and character.

“We are fully aware of the staggering beauty of our country so it is somewhat gratifying to know that millions of TV and film fans across the world have been let in on the secret. I think it’s fair to say that if a fraction of these people get curious enough to take a trip to the locations they’ve seen on screen then we can expect to see more of these types of tourists in Northern Ireland.”

Tourism NI are encouraging everyone to spend a day exploring popular film locations such as these:

*Game of Thrones (2011 – present)

An epic fantasy television series created for HBO. This production is an adaptation of George RR Martin’s series of fantasy novels, and is filmed at the Paint Hall Film Studios in Belfast as well as a number of locations around Northern Ireland including Ballintoy Harbour, Tollymore Forest Park and Castle Ward Estate.

*Boogaloo and Graham (2014)

Bafta-winning and Oscar-nominated short film Boogaloo and Graham, set in the 1970s and filmed in Belfast, follows the story of Jamesy and Malachy who are over the moon when their soft-hearted dad presents them with two baby chicks to care for. Raising their tiny charges, declaring themselves vegetarian and dreaming of running a chicken farm, the two boys are in for a shock when their parents announce that big changes are coming to the family.

*Robot Overlords (2013)

Directed by Jon Wright and starring Gillian Anderson and Ben Kingsley, Robot Overlords is a home-grown homage to the action adventure films of the 1980s. The film takes a look at a fictional Earth which has been conquered by robots from a distant galaxy. Filming locations include Belfast Met, Donaghadee, Greencastle Beach, Tollymore Forest Park and Carrickfergus Castle.

*The Fall (2013 - present)

Made and set in Belfast, The Fall starred Gillian Anderson, better known for her role in cult TV series, the X files and Belfast-born Jamie Dornan who this year appeared in the role of Christian Grey in the feature film adaptation of bestselling novel Fifty Shades of Grey. In the gripping psychological thriller Belfast born Dornan played serial killer Paul Spector who stalked his victims at random in and around Belfast with Anderson portraying the talented detective superintendent brought in on the case.

*Dracula Untold (2013)

Vampire mythology combined with the true history of Prince Vlad tell the origin of Dracula starring Luke Evans. Filmed at many locations across Northern Ireland including Tollymore Forest Park, Roe Valley Country Park, Mount Stewart House and Gardens, Giant’s Causeway, Divis Mountain and Scrabo Country Park.

*Blandings (2013 – 2014)

The series is based on author PG Wodehouse’s hilarious accounts of the life and times of Lord Emsworth of Blanding Castle. It was filmed at Crom Castle, Co. Fermanagh and stars well-known actors such as Timothy Spall, Jennifer Saunders, David Walliams and Mark Williams, just to name a few.

*Keith Lemon - The Film (2012)

Comedy starring Celebrity Juice host and comedian Keith Lemon and Kelly Brook, Keith Lemon The Film is filmed in various Belfast locations including Linenhall Street, Titanic Drawing Offices, House of Fraser (Victoria Square), The Waterfront Hall, W5 at Odyssey, The Merchant Hotel, Bedford Street, Linen House Hostel, Old Northern Bank on Waring Street, Café Vaudeville, Donegall Square North.

*Philomena (2012)

Philomena is the true story of one mother’s search for her lost son. Starring Judy Dench and Steve Coogan with filming in various Co Down locations including Bryansford, Killyleagh, Rostrevor and featuring the Mourne Mountains.

*The Shore - Short Film (2011)

This Oscar winning film (best live action short) is the story of friendship and reconciliation starring Ciarán Hinds and Conleth Hill as childhood friends, Joe and Paddy. The film won Best Live Action Short Film at the 2012 Oscars. Written and directed by Belfast local Terry George, and produced by his daughter Oorlagh, the film was shot entirely in Killough, Co Down.

*Good Vibrations (2012)

The film is a chronicle of Terri Hooley’s life, a record-store owner, played by Richard Dormer, instrumental in developing Belfast’s punk-rock scene. As a way to forget about The Troubles in Belfast in the 1970s, Terry galvanises young musicians into action and becomes the unlikely leader of a motley band of kids and punks who join him in his mission to create a new community, an alternative Ulster, to bring his city back to life.

*Starred Up (2013)

Starred Up is a prison crime drama filmed in former prisons HM Prison Crumlin Road in Belfast and HM Prison Maze in Lisburn and stars Jack O’Connell. The film is based on the experiences of a voluntary therapist working at HM Prison Wandsworth, with some of the country’s most violent criminals. The film’s title is a term used to describe the early transfer of a criminal from a Young Offender Institution to an adult prison.