People, Places, Business

Da Vinci's Demons Premier

Da Vinci's Demons Premier held at Neath's Gwyn Hall

Neath got a touch of Hollywood-style glamour this month when it hosted the UK premiere of international TV series Da Vinci's Demons, following two earlier European premieres in Florence and Cannes.

All the photos above are owned by Welsh Government

The swashbuckling and occasionally raunchy historical fantasy “re-imagines” Renaissance genius Leonardo Da Vinci's early life in Florence.

The £20m show, commissioned by the US-based Starz network, saw much of the series filmed in the former Ford factory, now the Bay Studios on Fabian Way, but other locations included Neath Abbey and Margam Park, where Margam Castle was transformed into a Medici palace.

After the first episode aired in America last week capturing a Starz network record 2.14m audience, Starz executives gave the go-ahead for a second series. Filming will start next month and will again provide a huge boost for our local economy.

Neath Port Talbot fought off fierce competition for the series from countries including Canada and New Zealand and our Business Development team worked closely with the production company to make sure as many local people and businesses as possible would gain from this investment.

The first series used an estimated 2,500 actors and extras and has seen all sorts of local businesses benefit. They include suppliers of services such as catering, make up and mobile facilities, trades including carpenters, electricians and general contractors and specialists such as designers of costumes, swords and weapons and painters for the sets. So far, the series has created more than 3,000 part-time and 160 full-time jobs locally.

There are already a few businesses in NPT in the creative sector and with the local skills, talent and some stunning locations, productions such as Da Vinci's Demons provide huge opportunities to attract further businesses and productions.

At the premiere in Neath was the series writer and director David S Goyer, co-writer of The Dark Knight Trilogy and screenwriter of the new Superman movie, Man of Steel. He told us, “The second series is great news and I'm looking forward to coming back to South Wales.”

Glynneath-born former Doctor Who producer Julie Gardner, the show's executive producer (for Adjacent Productions) now based in Los Angeles, along with Swansea-born production designer Ed Thomas were instrumental in bringing Da Vinci's Demons to Wales. She said, “We looked all over the world for possible locations for Da Vinci's Demons, but it was the creativity and experience of the production talent that made Wales the obvious choice.

“I think the Bay Studios in Fabian Way has a great future, there are so many stunning locations nearby and the roads are much easier than those in London.”

“The second season will allow us to build on the state of the art studio facility we have started to create in the Swansea Bay area.”