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Paint hall to become Ember city

March 22nd, 2007 by Paul Martin

A former paint hall at a Belfast shipyard is to be transformed into a post-apocalypse city for a science fiction film.

The old paint hall at Harland and Wolff will become the City of Ember for a film version of Jeanne DuPrau’s children’s science fiction adventure. The US$50m film is being made by PlayTone, which is owned by Tom Hanks.

DuPrau’s novel centres around an underground city, the one known surviving settlement. The city is the “only light in the dark world” which is slowly dying as supplies run low and the electrical system starts to fail. The main characters are Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow, two 12-year-olds who watch as the light of Ember flickers and race to discover a way out.

Filming is to take place in the summer and last for 16 weeks. The paint hall is presently used for storage and recycling, and Michael Graham, head of corporate real estate for the Titanic Quarter, said it would be turned into the studio housing the city. “I think it is the sheer physicality of the building which has enabled the film to come here, just because of the sheer size of the set,” he said.

The film will be shot entirely in the studio and the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission has said that the production is great news. Six months of negotiations saw the Belfast location see off alternative sites in England, Romania, Prague and Berlin.

[BBC News for the rest]