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Construction shutdown leads to Filming Backlog at Ardmore
15 Mar 2021 : Nathan Griffin
The Green Knight filmed in Ardmore.
Siún Ní Raghallaigh, Executive director of Ardmore Studios, Ireland’s oldest film studio, has said that the ongoing shutdown of the construction sector has delayed the planned expansion of the studios.

This in turn has led to a filming backlog, as well as mounting pressure from Hollywood clients over movie and TV projects which have seen delays as a result of the lockdown.

It is a vital time for the industry as Ireland’s studios are currently seeing record demand. Recently Director David Lowery shot his latest film The Green Knight starring Dev Patel in Ardmore, which is set for release later this year, and Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel starring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Jodie Comer, also shot in Ardmore either side of a COVID-19 lockdown. Troy Studios played host to Apple Tv’s Sci-Fi epic Foundation, the most expensive TV project ever shot in Ireland, while Ashford is playing host to Netflix’s Vikings spinoff Vikings: Valhalla.

Ireland is currently making a major play to attract more projects, with recent developments such as the greenlighting of a new €150 million Studio Space and Media Campus in Greystones, Co. Wicklow effectively seeking to double Ireland’s studio space. 

The project would add to the existing Ardmore Studios and Ashford Studios who have already put Co. Wicklow at the centre of the Irish movie and TV industry, with productions including Braveheart, The Tudors, Penny Dreadful, and Vikings shot there. 

Outside of Wicklow, there is Troy Studios in Limerick who are currently playing host to Apple TV+’s Foundation Series, which is believed to be the most expensive production shot on the island of Ireland; in the North, there is the iconic Titanic Studios, which was host to HBO’s Game of Thrones. Ireland’s potential as a site for large-scale studio filming is increasing rapidly.

Ardmore’s planned expansion will see the construction of three new sound stages to increase production capacity at the Wicklow facility . The first phase of this expansion will add a new 21,000sq.ft. sound stage and a 21,000sq.ft. five story building with offices, hair and makeup rooms, props storage and dressing rooms to support the sound stage, together with a new entrance and security building and when complete, the studios will have over 140,000sq.ft. of sound stages and 160,000sq.ft. of support buildings. The studio says these additions will allow it to “compete at the heart of the international film and TV production market”.

However, as reported by the Irish Independent, the site has been shut down since January, and delays in reopening have caused a back-up of film projects waiting to get into Ireland, Ardmore’s executive director Siún Ní Raghallaigh said in a letter to the contractor in which she also said the site needed to open up “as soon as possible”. The expansion was planned for completion later this year with the Studio expansion set to open on September 2021. 

“We are under huge pressure from our Hollywood clients to get this finished, with projects now backed up and waiting to get into Ireland,” said the letter to Mac Group CEO Paul McKenna.

“To put things in perspective, our business is 100pc [foreign direct investment] FDI. Projects come to Ardmore Studios and they bring the funding with them to produce their projects. They create hundreds of jobs and the local economy of Bray and its environs, benefit hugely from this FDI spend,” Ní Raghallaigh wrote. 

Ardmore Studios  has been a major contributor to the local economy since it first opened its doors nearly six decades ago and is a major component of Ireland’s attractiveness to foreign film production. As part of its large lot, Ardmore boasts five sound stages ranging in area from 3,000 sq.ft. to 23,250sq.ft. as well as storage facilities and a 4,500 sq.ft. props department.  It also includes the Ardmore Film Factory, which serves as both an extension to the Herbert Road location, and as a standalone facility offering clients increased availability of studio and office space with two studios over 25,000sq.ft. Support infrastructure includes production offices, workshops, costumes, hair and make-up and props space, dressing rooms, and backlot.





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