Film-makers are flocking to post-Troubles Northern Ireland because of the welcome, landscape and experience on offer, star actor James Nesbitt has told students in Derry.
The Co. Derry ‘Hobbit’, ‘Cold Feet’ and ‘Bloody Sunday’ actor said that the trauma and pain of the Troubles had created a “canvas” for generating art, which has evolved massively since the end of the conflict.
Mr Nesbitt was speaking during a series of engagements in Derry with school students in his role as Chancellor of the Ulster University.
Addressing students from across the city and beyond at St Mary’s College, Mr Nesbitt said: “One of the only good things to come out of the Troubles was that it created an incredible canvas for art to be generated.
“We have an incredible creative industry here because, of course, out of pain comes great art. There has to be a reaction, it creates many different voices.”
Mr Nesbitt said that he was very conscious he was standing in an “ancient city that has witnessed and weathered many, many different things” and said there has always been a voice in Derry.
He said that the growth of creative industries here was one of the greatest things to have happened with film-makers “tripping themselves to come over here.”
“Game of Thrones, the biggest show in the world is made here and films are made here. People are flocking to Northern Ireland to be involved in the creative industries becaus e- we all knew we were so brilliant here; if only there wasn’t the bloody Troubles it would be a great place - and then they go, and all of a sudden people are coming here because the logistics of filming here, there’s no bother. If you try to film in London or anywhere in England there is always someone there with a wee bit of red tape. Here they go, ‘yes, come in’, the NI Film Council, the Film Board. Film-makers from all over the world will go, ‘Well, the seaside is there, the mountains are there, there’s a studio there, there’s an urban sprawl there’.
“We’ve got film-makers who have been steeped in the history and tradition of film-making because of the situation here, so it has changed utterly and of course, that has a huge ripple down effect not only because of what it does for Northern Ireland, but if you look at the Ulster University our courses now in film-making, in animation and our facilities are second to none. We have got lecturers, teachers who are doing what they want to do in this country, with the facilities they want and there is more and more coming, there’s new studios all the time.”
Mr Nesbitt added that he himself had bought a company called G&H, which owns make-up and wardrobe trucks used in Game of Thrones and on other shows.
The actor spent a full day in Derry as part of his role as Chancellor of Ulster University andin the company of Malachy Ó Néill, Provost of the Magee campus, Professor Raffaella Folli, Provost (Jordanstown and Belfast) and Karise Hutchinson, Provost (Coleraine) took part in an afternoon programme of school engagements.
At St. Mary’s College the delegation was greeted by Principal Mrs. Marie Lindsay and other staff, who escorted him to an assembly hall full of pupils from schools including Oakgrove Integrated College, Thornhill College, St Cecilia’s College and St Bricin’s College, Cavan.
After a Q&A session, he received the gift of a portrait from the pupils, before moving on to Foyle College where he met students and staff, including an old school acquaintance, Principal Mr Patrick Allen.
He took part in a Q&A and shared stories about his introduction to drama and acting.
Malachy Ó Néill, Provost of the Magee campus, said: “It was a great honour for us to welcome Dr. James Nesbitt to the Magee campus and to engage in a programme of school visits to St Mary’s College and Foyle College where he enthralled staff and students alike with anecdotes of his career, acting colleagues and roles he has undertaken to date.
He shared openly his experiences of acting in the city and expressed great hope for the future of the students, encouraging them that hard work and determination can help realise their ambitions.”
Dr. Nesbitt then returned to the Magee campus where he met two students who are participating in the Talented Athletes programme, Jonathan Burnside (Fencing) and Matthew Norris (Ulster Rugby development player).