UK has starring role in fantasy epic Dracula Untold

Friday sees the US release of Universal Pictures’ fantasy epic Dracula Untold, following its UK release last weekend. The story focuses on the origin of Bram Stoker’s infamous character and combines striking locations with sweeping battles scenes.

Location, location, location

One of the most eye-catching aspects of the production is its backdrops, with otherworldly mountains, forests and caverns enhancing the picture’s fantastical feel. To find such locations, the filmmakers had to look no further than Northern Ireland where diverse, rural locations are situated just a stone’s throw from Belfast’s extensive filming facilities and experienced crew base.

Dracula Untold took full advantage, making use of locations throughout Northern Ireland, taking in Tollymore Forest Park, Giants Causeway and Divis Mountain as well as the imposing 18th century Mount Stewart House in County Down. Popular filming location Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire, south east England, most recently seen on cinema screens as the enchanted forest in Disney’s Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie, also featured amongst the film’s striking locations.

Whilst the UK’s locations provided a natural backdrop for the fantasy horror, the production still needed build-space to construct the film’s impressive sets. With HBO’s Game of Thrones shooting its fourth season at Belfast’s Titanic Studios, the production team needed to come up with an alternative, which they did in the form of the former Britvic bottling plant just 2 miles outside Belfast city centre. Britvic’s two ‘stages’ provided just under 43,000 sq ft of build space (to which an additional 38,500 sq ft has since been added) as well as extensive office and workshop space and unit parking.

Screen agency Northern Ireland Screen was on-hand throughout to offer production and location support, as well as investing £1.65m into the project.

UK creative talent takes centre stage

In addition to locations and studio space the film features a plethora of UK talent, with Luke Evans taking up the title role. Evans was recently seen in Universal’s box office hit Fast & Furious 6 which also filmed in the UK. Evans is joined by fellow UK actors Dominic Cooper and Charles Dance OBE, already familiar to fans of fantasy through his role in Game of Thrones.

Behind the camera, Dracula Untold benefitted from world-class UK creative talent, with Supervising Art Director Paul Inglis and Set Designer Andrew Ackland-Snow amongst the UK crew working on the film. Experienced British Unit Production Manager Jo Burn and Supervising Location Manager Catherine Geary also played key roles. Oscar-winning UK VFX facility Framestore’s own VFX Supervisor, Christian Manz, served as Universal’s supervisor on the project and the majority of the visual effects were delivered by the Soho-based outfit.

Dracula Untold is the latest in a long line of blockbusters to come out of the UK this year, with Edge of Tomorrow (Warner Bros.) and Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel) impressing both critics and audiences in the Summer. It will not be the last, with Brad Pitt’s eagerly-anticipated WWII action-drama Fury (QED International) due to premiere at the London Film Festival later this month.

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