George R R Martin is an American author and is best-known for his epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, which is said to be inspired by the War of the Roses and Ivanhoe. The first book in the series, Game of Thrones, was published in 1996 and it is now being made into a pilot television film for HBO Productions.
Work on the pilot film, which stars Sean Bean, is currently underway at the National Trust property at Castleward in county Down. HBO will evaluate the pilot and then make a decision on whether to proceed with a full ten-part series.
This morning I visited Castleward, along with Rick Hill and Richard Williams of Northern Ireland Screen, to see the film in production. It was extremely interesting to be on the set and to see how some of the buildings had been turned into a medieval castle.
Northern Ireland Screen, which is one of my department's arms-length bodies, provided funding to secure the pilot film for Northern Ireland which has the potential to put around £10m into the local economy. This shows the potential for us to develop our creative industries, including film-making.
The co-producer of the film, Mark Huffam, was born in Northern Ireland and educated at Campbell College. He has been in the film industry for over 24 years and his credits include Saving Private Ryan and Captain Corelli's Mandolin.