Filming of major US production in NI following coronavirus lockdown

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By Michael McHugh, PA

The shooting of a big-budget US film will showcase Northern Ireland's dramatic north coast on a global stage, a local representative said.

Viking-age drama The Northman stars Nicole Kidman.

It was due to begin filming on County Antrim's scenic Torr Head earlier this year, but coronavirus halted production.

Fresh pictures show progress made on the construction of a wooden village set, a short distance from the expansive Atlantic swell, over recent weeks.

Local councillor Cara McShane said: "It is a privilege that we live where we do and it is great to see more and more of the media industry using this remote area."

The Northman is set in Iceland at the turn of the 10th century and is directed by Robert Eggers.

Claes Bang, the Dracula star, previously said it is confusing and depressing not knowing when production on film and television will be able to resume amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Danish actor was in Northern Ireland preparing to shoot The Northman, which also features Alexander Skarsgard and Willem Dafoe, before production was shut down and lock down was introduced.

Industry development body Northern Ireland Screen has said there were millions of US dollars in the production budget and hundreds of crew.

Ms McShane represents the Torr Head area on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, and said the community was proud of the natural beauty on its doorstep.

She added: "It is testament to the strong background that this area provides."

She noted that local people had a great love of the landscape and displayed generosity of spirit in allowing its use for filming.

She said: "It is also an opportunity to showcase this area on a global stage and we have seen the benefits on offer of screen tourism, where people come to the locations where films are produced.

"That is a positive spin-off economically for the area attracting more and more people."

Dozens of productions were suspended due to the pandemic.

They also included the hit BBC series Line Of Duty.

Northern Ireland's creative industry has been building on the phenomenal success of fantasy drama series Game Of Thrones, which was partly filmed there between 2011 and 2019.

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