A local actor who is appearing in a succession of Hollywood blockbusters has spoken of plans to film a major television production in Derry and other parts of Ireland.
The past few years have seen Donegal native, Jason Matthewson, appearing in numerous major movie productions such as ‘Jason Bourne,’ ‘Allied’ with Brad Pitt. He will also feature in forthcoming films ‘Transformers 5,’ ‘Hunter Killer’ with Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman and ‘The Mummy’ with Tom Cruise.
The 29-years-old from Rathmullan, who trained as an actor in Derry and performed in venues across the north west before moving to Los Angeles, also has a string of major projects coming up in 2017.
Now based mainly in London but still a frequent visitor to the US, Jason said he is very excited about a project he is currently involved in with playwright and screenwriter Lance Nielsen entitled ‘Sticks and Stones’ which could see him returning to his roots.
Speaking about the new project after a welcome break with family and friends back at home, and after hosting the International Online Web Fest in London, he said: “My business partner, Lance Nielsen and I, are in the early stages of producing a TV series, ‘Sticks and Stones’ set against the ‘Troubles’ of Northern Ireland and set in Derry and Belfast for the most part.
“Unlike the other stories and movies we have seen, this goes from ’68 through to the Peace Process, around ’99.
“ Our show is not about the ‘Troubles,’ it is more about humanity and love and how history can come into your life and alter the course of your life whether you want it to or not. It features three families, two Irish, from Derry, and one British. It takes into account things that did happen such as ‘Bloody Sunday,’ Bobby Sands and the Hunger Strike, the Peace Process, and the Women’s Movement, which I didn’t really know much about.”
Jason said he felt that there was a duty to tell the story in a “fair and honest way and not be biased towards any side.”
“Lance actually wrote the play back in 1998 and it was staged in London to massive critical acclaim. It was always meant to be a series. He called me and offered me the chance to come on board because of my connection to Ireland and the film industry in Ireland.
“Lance and I are also going to work together on a movie called ‘Pegasus Bridge’ about the storming of the beaches in Normandy. That’s also well on its way.
“We are planning to film a lot of the TV series in Derry. Two of the families are from Derry, from the Bogside and Creggan areas, and we plan to film a lot of it in that area. The British family are from Surrey, but most of it will be in Ireland. We are in the process of writing the pilot and the first few episodes, meeting with financiers and we’re hoping to have the package ready by February so it is out there while we are off making ‘Pegasus’.”
The plans include pitching the series to global networks such as HBO, Netflix as well as to networks closer to home.
Jason cut his acting teeth in Derry and Donegal, including working with local playwright Jonathan Burgess and acting in the Millennium Forum and Waterside Theatre in Derry and a lot of stage work in Letterkenny, as well as working on film projects in the north.
He said that the TV and filming industry was now booming in Ireland and the UK, with shows such as ‘Game Of Thrones’ and ‘Vikings’ opening many doors locally. As well as cost incentives drawing the big guns from across the world. Jason said the studios were a big factor, along with production companies and crews in the north, which he added, were “some of the best in the world.” And then there is also the landscape, with ‘Star Wars’ and other companies also now starting to put Donegal on the map.
“We’re not going to get the California sun, but we have so much diversity: if you want the high rise buildings in the city or beaches or rolling hills you can have it. The landscape of Ireland and especially the north of Ireland, has a lot to offer the film industry.”
Jason, who is also now the face of Religion Clothing, said he loves coming home. “I was home for a week but it was too short so I’m coming back in January. I don’t get back as much as I’d like but it was lovely to see family and friends. Going home you have this peace and quiet. You forget how peaceful it is not to have sirens, helicopters and lots of people around.”
For more visit website: www.jasonmatthewson.com or check out his Vimeo page.