BALLINTOY is set to get world-wide exposure when scenes for the next series of the blockbuster tv series ‘Game of Thrones’ will be filmed there in the summer, writes Nevin Farrell.
Ballintoy Harbour will be transformed into a medieval setting for the fantasy adventure series which was described by ‘Game of Thrones’ Location Manager Robert Boake as “possibly the biggest tv series in the world at the moment and certainly Europe it is by a mile”.
The current series of the show is on tv screens at the moment on Sky Atlantic and has been filmed at locations throughout Northern Ireland leading to a major boost to the film industry.
Moyle Council has an interest in Ballintoy Harbour and Mr Boake attended a meeting of the Council in Ballycastle to ask them for co-operation in filming there.
Mr Boake works for a company whose parent organisation, one of the world’s leading production companies - HBO - produces ‘Game of Thrones’.
The series makers want to restrict access to the public at Ballintoy Harbour for a time during the summer and are offering several thousand pounds of cash to the local community as a token of their appreciation.
Moyle Council has agreed in princple to the harbour being used for ‘Game of Thrones’ subject to locals agreeing.
The series producers will move in to Ballintoy Harbour between July 25-29 for what they call ‘soft prep’ and there will be more detailed set preparations between August 1-5.
From August 15 there will be limited public access with actual filming on August 18, 19 and 22 but there will be some limited access on the weekend of August 20/21 for locals to visit the area.
Mr Boake explained that there will be secrecy surrounding the set and the taking of pictures will be banned as the worldwide popularity of the show means if any images get out they will quickly circle the globe through fans websites and therefore spoil the look of the show when it hits tv screens.
Mr Boake said they scouted out coastal areas and they have set their heart on Ballintoy, while Larrybane quarry and the Mussendun/Downhill area will also be used. He said if you type ‘Game of Thrones’ into Google you get 80 million results and the current series has been declared a “smash” by HBO.
Mr Boake said the use of Ballintoy Harbour comes in the middle of the tourist season and he said they have held discussions with the cafe at Ballintoy to ensure they are not out of pocket.
He said the huge number of people involved will also provide a financial boost for the area by staying locally in B&Bs.
And Mr Boake said that as a token of their appreciation for being allowed to use Ballintoy they will make a £4,500 donation to improve the “infrastructure” of the area.
He said the presence of the ‘Game of Thrones’ will provide a worldwide boost to Ballintoy and he says although the series is currently running on Sky eventually it will go to terrestial tv.
Independent councillor Colum Thompson said it is a “fantastic opportunity” to boost Ballintoy and the wider Moyle area and Ulster Unionist councillor Willie Graham said he is also behind the filming plan but wondered about the impact on fishermen at Ballintoy.
Mr Boake said the fishermen will be compensated for having to temporarily re-berth their boats at Ballycastle.
Sinn Fein councillor from Ballintoy, Cara McShane, said she has already widely consulted as widely as possible and she said she broadly welcomes it and there already are avid fans of ‘Game of Thrones’ in the village.
She said she welcomed utilising local accommodation but said August is a big month in the local economy and thought £4,500 was a “paltry sum” and more is needed to make it more attractive to the local community.
Cllr McShane added: “Ballintoy is one of the most attractive harbours in the entire island of Ireland. We are obviously putting a lot of people out.”
Mr Boake said one of the big advantages of Ballintoy is the worldwide publicity it will get from being involved.
DUP councillor Robert McIlroy said the project is “very exciting”.
TUV councillor Sharon McKillop was concerned about the restricted public access to the harbour and eventually Mr Boake said they will look at increasing the size of the fee they are giving to Ballintoy and Council Chairperson, Independent Padraig McShane, joked it should be up to £50,000!