HBO To Shoot Pilot in Belfast

American TV company behind The Wire and Sex in the City come to town for an epic adventure adaptation

HBO, the US’s leading pay cable network, have made the streets of Baltimore famous around the world - and are now looking to do the same with Belfast. It has just been announced that the company plan to begin work on A Game of Thrones in October at locations around Northern Ireland and in the Titanic Quarter.

A Game of Thrones is the first novel in a series of seven books entitled A Song of Ice and Fire, by acclaimed fantasy writer George RR Martin. Americans David Benioff and Dan Weiss, who met while studying in Dublin, are set to write and produce the television adaptation. The HBO pilot will begin filming sometime this coming autumn.

HBO will utilize various locations in Belfast as well as build a massive set in the Paint Hall in the Titanic Quarter, where Hollywod blockbuster City of Ember was filmed in 2008. The pilot project emerged from a successful meeting between first minister Peter Robinson and deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and HBO during their recent US visit around St Patrick’s Day.

Speaking about the project Mr Robinson said: 'This is the first time that a TV production of such vast size and scale has been filmed in Northern Ireland. It will be a welcome boost to the production sector, helping develop the industry here and bringing employment and investment to Northern Ireland.

'HBO is a recognized worldwide brand, with their programmes broadcast in over 150 countries. Securing this project over a number of competitors is a major coup for Northern Ireland. '

HBO is arguably the important television company on the globe right now: they have been responsible for critically acclaimed shows such as Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, Band of Brothers, The Wire and of course The Sopranos.

The pilot for A Game of Thieves is another welcome boost for Northern Ireland’s film industry, following on from Universal Studios’ decision to shoot a multimillion-dollar fantasy film, Your Highness, in Belfast. That film will be shot during the summer of 2009 in the Paint Hall where City of Ember, which starred Bill Murray, was also filmed.

Mr McGuinness feels certain that these new projects will see the Northern Ireland film industry continue to grow. 'Coming in the wake of the announcement by Universal Studios, this is a further boost for this sector and evidence that even in the midst of a difficult economic climate we can attract world leading companies to our shores.'

Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen, is confident that Northern Ireland filmmaking will continue to grow and grow. 'HBO has been responsible for some of the most dynamic and successful TV series ever broadcast, and we are absolutely delighted to welcome the HBO team here,' he said.

'This is a real coup for Northern Ireland and further cements our reputation as a leading centre for film and television production, as we continue our rapid growth into what is one of the most powerful and vibrant industries in the world.'