Written by Shona Smith on Jan 23, 2020. Posted in On Location

The Turning found fictional haunted house in Ireland

Dreamwork Pictures' adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw is set in the 1990's, one hundred years after the source material was published. A private estate in County Wicklow, Ireland stood in as the haunted house in rural Maine, USA.

The adaptation from screenwriters Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes (The Conjuring, San Andreas) is directed by Floria Sigismondi (The Runaways, The Handmaid’s Tale). Mackenzie Davis (The Martian, Black Mirror) stars as a nanny charged with the care of two orphans; Flora, played by Finn Wolfhard (It, Stranger Things) and Miles, played by Brooklyn Prince (The Florida Project).

The house plays a key role in the film, as it quickly appears that both the children and estate are harbouring dark secrets and obscuring reality. The fictional Bly Estate, supposedly in the Maine countryside was found in County Wicklow, Ireland. The 800-acre private estate to the south of Dublin provided exterior locations including a maze, koi pond and lake which the script called for.

Sigismondi says. “There’s a sense of grandness, but also the drive up to it is perfect. A lot of the houses we looked at were just off streets. This one had an amazing entrance and every angle you filmed the house from was spectacular and dark”. Creatively, it opened up endless possibilities. “The grounds are so immense, you can get lost at any turn,” Sigismondi says. “The house is filled with hallways and every room has its own kind of character. The hallways are long and we shot them in wide-angle lenses so they felt even longer, like forced-perspective gateways into different worlds.”

“When we found our Bly location, one of the unusual and exciting things was the maze,” Sigismondi says. “We’re so used to seeing mazes that are bright green and full, and the ones at the house looked that way when we first scouted, but when we came back to film they had lost all their leaves and had turned this unusual burnt orange, this beautiful sort of Richard Serra-rusted metal feeling. And it had these big holes in it that were really interesting. All of that helped bring a darker tone to the exteriors.”

Executive Producer Seth William Meier commented to makers magazine, “We were looking for the right estate that encapsulated the mood, look and feel of the film. We had also developed a relationship for some time with local producers and thought this would be a good opportunity to work together”. “The bottom line is always important and incentives are always a major factor in mailing our choices” he adds.

Ireland’s Section 481 provides national, foreign and co-productions with a 32 – 37% tax credit. The base 32% is upped to 37% for filming in the regions. The tax credit is based on cost of all cast and crew working in Ireland, and all goods and services sourced in Irland including post-production and VFX. There is a per project cap of up to 32% of the lower of all eligible expenditure, 80% of the total cost of production or EUR70 million.

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