Country Focus: UK
Northern Ireland Screen contributes £22m to local economy
by Naman Ramachandran
- At a time when the UK film industry is facing an uncertain future comes the cheering news that Northern Ireland Screen, the development agency for the screen industries in the region, has returned £22m to the local economy at a ratio of 5.5:1.
The agency’s annual report for 2009/10 reveals that this stellar return comes from a production investment of just £3.9m. However, in keeping with the UK’s image as America’s satellite 51st state, more than half of these returns have come from Universal Pictures. The company’s Your Highness, directed by David Gordon Green, and starring Natalie Portman and James Franco, shot in Northern Ireland locations and contributed £11.78m to the economy.
Another American television major, HBO, is about to roll cameras in Belfast for its upcoming series Game of Thrones. There was significant investment from Britain too with Channel 4’s Mo and Mammoth Screen’s Christopher and his Kind shooting in the region.
An independent evaluation of the agency done by KPMG reveals that the Northern Ireland Screen Fund exceeded its target in the 2007-10 period, delivering an economic return of £45m against investment of £9.8m.
Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said, “The economic, cultural and educational value of the screen industry and screen culture is beginning to shine through across the wide range of activities Northern Ireland Screen supports and encourages.
“Our highlight successes in attracting Universal Pictures and HBO to Northern Ireland strongly illustrate that, with vision and focus, the screen industries and the creative industries generally can play a pivotal role in the reimagining of our local economy.”