Why a Chinese romantic comedy is being filmed in Northern Ireland

A Chinese film crew filming in Belfast for the film 'Special Couple', at the back of City Hall. The man to the right of the camera with the baseball cap on is producer Jianxin Huang
A Chinese film crew filming in Belfast for the film 'Special Couple', at the back of City Hall. The man to the right of the camera with the baseball cap on is producer Jianxin Huang

A Chinese film crew is using Belfast as the backdrop for a romantic comedy which will be screened to audiences in the vast Asian state.

Called ‘Special Couple’, it is set in London, and it is thought that Belfast is being used as a stand-in for scenes in the UK capital.

A Chinese film crew filming in Belfast for the film 'Special Couple' on March 6 at the back of City Hall in Belfast

A Chinese film crew filming in Belfast for the film 'Special Couple' on March 6 at the back of City Hall in Belfast

The News Letter had spotted a camera crew around the city centre in recent days, including Cafe Parisien near city hall.

And on Tuesday the film crew turned up directly outside the News Letter’s offices at the back of city hall to shoot some footage.

Little is known about the precise plot of the film, and its makers were not keen to divulge much about it.

However, it is believed that the script involves a music student and the owner of a small cleaning business, and that the stars – whom makers would not reveal – are familiar to Chinese audiences.

It is understood that film-makers have been in the country for about a week, and filming is set to last roughly three weeks.

It is directed by Lei Huang. and the producers are Jianxin Huang and Chris Curling.

It is thought to be among the first feature films under a new China/UK co-production treaty, signed in April 2014 between the UK government and the one-party communist state.

This covers things such as import duty exemptions for filming equipment and allowing film crews to remain in each respective country to work.

It also stipulates that films under that treaty should have “cultural benefits” for both the UK and China, and that the content of these films must “not advocate violence, be of a blatantly pornographic nature, or openly offend human dignity”.