Top TV production company moves into Belfast

Leading TV production company DSP has opened a new office in West Belfast, creating nine jobs and establishing a base to make original programmes.

Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP), part of the global Endemol Shine group, has moved into state-of-the-art premises at the Innovation Factory on the Springfield Road.

Endemol Shine is the first ‘super indie’ production company to set up a substantial base in Northern Ireland. The Belfast office is headed up by two Northern Ireland women, Anne Stirling and Michelle Walsh.

The company has just completed filming a new drama in Belfast about the early lives of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, which will be screened on ITV later this year. ‘Torvill and Dean’ stars Game of Thrones actor, Will Tudor, Poppy Lee Friar from Ackley Bridge and legendary East Enders star Anita Dobson as Jayne’s first coach, Miss Perry.

They are shooting a new two hour period murder mystery that will debut on Channel Five at Christmas as well as an “inclusive” fashion show for RTE called the Fitting Room and a three part drama documentary series for BBC4 on Charles I.

Anne explained why DSP chose to locate at the Innovation Factory: “We needed an office that would be flexible to suit our requirements. When we are working on a drama we need to quickly increase our office space.

“The Innovation Factory gives us that flexibility. It is an amazing place, with great communications, fantastic parking and 24 hour security, which means we can work around the clock during busy times. It is ideal for drama productions as it is so close to the town centre and has quick and easy access to the motorway for Dublin.”

Michelle added: “There are nine of us working here but whenever we go onto a drama we have about 60 freelance crew and cast working on it so flexibility is essential. Most of the cast and crew are from here and it is an opportunity for them to step up a grade and get the network credits that take people to another level.”

Majella Barkley, Innovation Director at the Innovation Factory, said: “It is great to see a leading global company in the creative sector locate in West Belfast. We would encourage other creative industries to check out this part of the city and see what we have to offer in terms of convenience, a talented workforce and technical support.”

Having worked in the industry for over 25 years, Anne believes more international companies will look to Northern Ireland as a base for their operations.

She said: “This has a great deal to do with the quality of NI Screen, which has a great track record of attracting major production companies. They understand the industry and are extremely supportive to local people to give them the opportunity to put NI on the map. It is the best screen agency in the UK.

“There is a fantastic legacy here of really high end technicians who have come off the back of Game of Thrones. The key is to continue to have high quality production work providing employment to these skilled professionals.”

Innovation Factory is owned by Belfast City Council and operated on their behalf by Oxford Innovation. The £9.1m business hub was funded by Belfast City Council and Invest NI with support from the European Regional Development Fund.

Customers include a range of start-ups and growing businesses in a variety of sectors including digital services, creative industries, business services, financial services and research and development.