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Da Vinci blockbuster could be a £60m masterpiece for Swansea Bay

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: May 10, 2012

  • Ed Thomas who helped bring a major production to the former Visteon site

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HOLLYWOOD has come to Swansea Bay with the opening of Europe's biggest indoor film studios, which could bring a massive £60 million boost to the economy.

US screenwriter and film director David S Goyer, whose writing credits include blockbusters Batman Begins and Blade, is involved in filming at the former Visteon site in Fabian Way, Swansea, next month.

His new TV drama series, entitled Da Vinci's Demons, will be filmed at the studios over the coming months, along with other locations in Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot, including at Margam Castle.

The first joint production from the premiere cable channel Starz Entertainment and BBC Worldwide Productions, it will tell the story about Leonardo da Vinci's life. It has already brought in 100 new jobs and could bring in even more. A source close to the project said it could be worth $100million (£61million) to the local economy.

Swansea-born Ed Thomas, who set up the art department and designed Doctor Who and Torchwood, was instrumental in bringing the series to Swansea Bay, along with TV producer Julie Gardner, who was brought up in Glynneath.

Mr Thomas said: "When you think David Goyer has the new Batman film about to be released and the new Superman — it's a huge coup. Starz, the premier cable channel, has been scouring the world for a location for Da Vinci's Demons.

"I worked with Julie Gardner in Hollywood on Torchwood and when they said they were looking to film we brought them to South Wales — after a lot of negotiating.

"They (Starz) fell in love with the 265,000 square feet of stage space in the old Visteon plant."

He added: "It's a big series with huge ambition — with a bit of luck it will run for seasons.

"When you have David Goyer involved in the mix you will have a cult following — the production can only be beneficial for Neath Port Talbot and Swansea, financially and on all levels."

Da Vinci's Demons will star English actor Tom Riley, who has previously appeared in Monroe and Bouquet of Barbed Wire, as the young Da Vinci and Laura Haddock, from Upstairs Downstairs, will play Lucrezia Donati, the mistress of Lorenzo Medici and lover of Leonardo da Vinci.

The historical fantasy will follow the "untold" story of the artist and inventor.

Mr Thomas added: "We are going to be working at Margam Castle, where we are going to be creating our own Da Vinci palace.


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  • immigrant1  |  May 11 2012, 10:51AM

    Confused11 - go back to school and learn some basic economics and perhaps you won't be so confused. This is a huge contract and will create lots of jobs. I know people that are going to be working there, so they are real jobs. They weren't looking for the likes of you so didn't advertise in places you frequent. Get a life and stop knocking others who are bringing major investment to the area.

    |   7
  • hacker_jack  |  May 11 2012, 8:44AM

    Confused - Most of the jobs are either specialist (meaning they would have been advertised in the appropriate publications/sites and not generally) or contract labour supplied by agencies. I know several people who are going to be working on the project in construction roles. Also services such as catering and cleaning are being sourced locally. And bear in mind the additional benefits, if the series is a success it will generate tourism interest in much the same way that a lot of the sites used for Dr. Who/Torchwood have seen.

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  • hadoken100  |  May 10 2012, 4:17PM

    Any attention and investment in Swansea is good. Sick of seeing all the money and opportunities poured into cardiff becuase it houses all the political big wigs.

    |   11
  • JerryLew  |  May 10 2012, 3:16PM

    Sorry guys - a positive story - makes a change for this rag - and 3 negative replies - all with some limited merit I must add. But the overall must be positive for the area I feel. Lets hope the investment works.

    |   16
  • Hyper51  |  May 10 2012, 2:03PM

    On the ball as always Evening Post! David S Goyer has been in Swansea now (on and off) for over a month. Being a fan of his work and knowing people who work where he's been staying and visiting I actually emailed you this "scoop" at the start of April and you're only reporting it now. So much for your "Got a story" contact address.

    |   11
  • Confused11  |  May 10 2012, 2:02PM

    I'm all for promoting Swansea and the surrounding area, however, where do these ridiculous figures come from "100 jobs" - Where? I missed those job vacancies in the evening post! What they mean is 100 TV/Film people already in permanent employment from outside the area are being used on this job. "£61million to the local economy" - Where does this figure generate from!! Why doesn't the evening post reporters ever challenge these figures?

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  • trunkles3  |  May 10 2012, 9:34AM

    That's Margam Castle shut to the public for months. So much for a our tourist industry. As for Swansea representing Italy - it's really going to have to be a fantasy production.

    |   -32