For Ireland’s Ardmore Studios, the current filming boom came just in the nick of time. In 1992, the 37-year-old production facility was a short step away from the financial abyss.
“There was so little activity we nearly considered closing down,” recalls Ardmore’s chief executive, Kevin Moriarty. “If the situation had gone on much longer, I would have had to talk to Paul McGuinness to see what we would do.” McGuinness, the manager of Irish rock group U2, is Ardmore’s major shareholder. “Now I have every stage booked through to the autumn.”
A half-hour drive south of Dublin, Ardmore has always been in a choice location. The capital, with its elegant Georgian terraces, is close. Step out of the studio and there’s the sea on one side; on the other lie moorland, woods, valleys and not a telephone pole to be seen.
“I’ve always been down to the likes of the Cannes Film Festival or the big television markets promoting Ardmore, but I think that now we have a more complete Irish package, including so-called Section 35 government funding, producers are becoming increasingly interested in filming here,” says Moriarty.
Moriarty and his team of 11 full-time staffers have been modernizing the studio in recent years. Panavision Ireland is housed on site; by this summer Ardmore will boast a state-of-the-art digital post-production system.
A year ago, Ardmore converted one of its four stages into a multi-purpose television studio, capable of welcoming chat shows and designed to bring TV miniseries biz to the lot. “I wouldn’t want to sound complacent, but we are definitely in a strong business period today,” says Moriarty.
“We’ve always had a steady stream of films which have have had elements of shooting at Ardmore,” says the studio topper. Those include the Richard Harris-starrer “The Field,” “My Left Foot” and “Far and Away.”
Having welcomed the “Braveheart” masses last year, Ardmore has skedded the $15 million “Moll Flanders”; TV mini-series “Kidnapped,” based on the Robert Louis Stevenson novel; and the Dennis Hopper-starrer “Space Truckers.”