Da Vinci Filming Sparks Local Renaissance of its own!
CLOSE working between Neath Port Talbot
Council, Tonto Film & TV productions and Starz TV has led to a
major new international television production being based at the
previously vacant Visteon site on Fabian Way.
The ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ production is an
eight-part historical fantasy series about Leonardo Da Vinci’s
early life in Florence. The brainchild of Hollywood writer,
producer and director David S. Goyer; whose credits include the
‘Blade’ trilogy, ‘Ghost Rider’ and the latest Batman films
including recent blockbuster ‘The Dark Knight Rises’; the series is
set to hit screens across the globe next year.
The site was one of several identified by the
Council’s Business Services team following a request from a
locations company to find somewhere suitable to set up a film
studio and supporting functions.
Having decided on the Fabian Way site, the
following months have seen a rapid transformation of the site, with
the current location potentially being one of the largest
production facilities in Europe.
Initially, the plan was to secure working
space of around 70,000 square feet, but the site has provided an
opportunity too big for the filmmakers to ignore. At approximately
265,000 square feet, with a further 8,000 of adjacent office space,
the former industrial premises provide plenty of room for
creativity to attract further productions!
The site also boasts another 70,000 sq ft of
office space and 12 acres of land which could provide opportunities
for other productions, offices and related creative businesses to
be attracted and develop as this series forges ahead.
In addition to the Fabian Way sets, filming
has been taking place at locations across South Wales during the
summer, with Margam Castle playing a starring role. Working in
harmony with the restoration undertaken since the disastrous fire
in 1977, the interiors of the Victorian mansion have provided the
perfect canvas for recreating renaissance Florence. Several rooms
in the building are doubling as the palace of the Medici family,
patrons to the young Leonardo Da Vinci. Neath Abbey and other local
sites have also been used for filming.
With a budget of approximately £20million for
the first eight episodes, the series has provided a boost to the
local economy and the production team have been working closely
with the council to source local services, contractors and
suppliers. Close links have also been made with schools and
colleges in the area, with a number of students undertaking work
experience, and several progressing to employment on the
production. It is hoped that, following a successful debut season,
the filming of a second series could provide further local
Fighting off competition from other options in
the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, and Canada, Neath Port Talbot has
been hailed as an inspired choice by the production team.
Executive Producer Julie Gardner, who
originally hails from Glynneath and can list Life on Mars, Doctor
Who and Torchwood among her previous successes, said:
“There were a number of potential sites under
consideration, but being based in this area has had several
benefits. Fabian Way has given us so much space to work within that
we have been able to base everything at the one site, which is a
tremendous advantage for a production of this size. The convenience
of the location has also provided us easy access to all our filming
locations across South Wales. The area also gave us access to the
necessary expertise and experience needed, in terms of businesses,
resources and people.
“We are really pleased with the proactive
approach and support that Neath Port Talbot Council and its
Business Services Team has shown for this project. They have helped
us from the very beginning, and have proved to be an invaluable
point of contact for us.
“Coming back to Neath Port Talbot with this
series is full circle, having studied at Neath College. It’s great
to see such a large production being made in my local area, and the
opportunities it provides to the South Wales region. It has been
fantastic to be able to use a venue like Margam Castle. It is
unique, and has everything you want from a film location”.
Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council Cllr Ali
Thomas warmly welcomed the development, saying: “Securing this
production for the local area is a massive success for Neath Port
Talbot Council. With over 2500 people being involved throughout
filming, this investment will certainly provide employment and
business opportunities which will benefit the local and wider
“Importantly, it also shows that Neath Port
Talbot can compete with the more established locations and become a
key player in attracting film production”.
“I would also like to congratulate and thank
Roy Thomas for his vision and for pulling out all the stops to make