BBC’s Game of Thrones competitor, The Last Kingdom, filmed in the UK and Hungary
The Last Kingdom is poised to hit UK television screens tonight. Based on the critically acclaimed Saxon series of novels from Bernard Cornwell, which in turn are loosely based on the aftermath of the Danish invasion of England, the series will boast a fusion of historical fact and fantasy.
Describing this combination, Executive Producer Gareth Neame explains: “in the hands of Stephen Butchard we believe it will make original and engrossing television drama. In part the epic quest of our hero Uhtred, it is also a fascinating re-telling of the tale of King Alfred the Great and how he united the many separate kingdoms on this island into what would become England.”
Neame continues: “Our cast has been drawn together from eight different European countries, providing us with the unique opportunity to create a truly international show, tap into a rich seam of talent, and bring them to a new global audience.”
The UK and Hungary share a similar filming incentive, both providing a tax rebate of up to 25%.
While operating as a gateway for the BBC to tap current zeitgeist of high-end television fantasy dramas currently championed by HBO’s Game of Thrones, the two programmes differ in regards to their chosen locations.
Producer Chrissy Skinns of Carnival Films explains: “the filming took place largely in Hungary, with a very few scenes in North Wales (for the coastal locations) and a sequence in a Viking boat (reconstructed, obviously!) off the coast of Denmark.”
The UK and Hungary share a similar filming incentive, both providing a tax rebate of up to 25%, but there are currently no formal incentives in place for filming in Denmark. As an alternative, the Danish Film Institute Fund offers subsidies for productions choosing to operate within the country.
According to Carnival Films’ Executive Producer Nigel Marchant, Hungary allowed them to “create a scale we couldn’t have in the UK... there’s a vast array of locations just an hour out of Budapest.”
In order to accurately convey the style of era Korda Studios in Hungary was used for various sequences. Korda's Gergely Balazs explains: “Carnival chose Korda because of its Medieval Village set, which required only minor modifications for The Last Kingdom production. Another reason is the local advantages; Korda Studios is surrounded by nature giving ideal shooting locations such as mountains, different kind of forests and lakes. All these are located within few minutes from Korda, and were used by the production.”
Hungary has hosted many high budget films in recent years, including the action fantasy Hercules and espionage comedy Spy. Wales on the other hand is the main filming location for BBC’s popular science fiction series, Doctor Who.
Meanwhile, the sixth season of Game of Thrones is being filmed in multiple locations. Scenes taking place at what is believed to be Riverrun are being filmed at Corbet, Northern Ireland, whereas the new storyline for Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is being filmed in Almería, Spain.
After previously having no filming incentives in place, Spain now offers up to 15% in tax credits, and a noteworthy 35% for productions filming in the Canary Islands. News emerged in August 2015 that plans are being made to purchase Shackleton Army Base in BallyKelly, Northern Ireland, with the intent of turning it into a film studio.
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