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Economy Secretary visits set of big budget US drama

Economy Secretary, Ken Skates has been in Pontyclun visiting the set of the biggest budget US TV production ever shot in Wales.

Ken Skates visited the set of TNT’s Will, a high end drama series based on the early life of William Shakespeare and met members of the cast and production team.

Will is  being filmed largely in Pontyclun’s Dragon Studios and is due to broadcast in the US this summer with  UK dates to follow. It boasts the largest budget and highest spend of any production shot in Wales to date.

Will is the latest in a growing list of US productions to be filmed in Wales and  follows other high profile productions such as Da Vinci's Demons, The Bastard Executioner and The Collection.

It is anticipated that the production, which has been backed by Welsh Government finance, will generate around  £18m spend into the local economy.

The first series of Will was commissioned following the success of an initial pilot programme filmed in London. Following support from the Welsh Government the production company decided to undertake a significant proportion of filming and production of the first series of Will in Wales.

Speaking after his visit, Ken Skates said: 

“I was so pleased to be able to visit the set of Will, which  really is an impressive and  quality production with the highest budget of any film or programme to be in Wales so far. The scale of the project is resulting in the largest local spend related to TV and film production even seen in Wales  which is great news for the local economy and a real coup for  the Welsh film and TV sector more broadly. We are continuing to work hard to attract high end drama to Wales with a specific focus on the lucrative US market and the probability of repeat series. I know the Will production will act as another great endorsement for what Wales can offer the film and TV  industry, in terms of our location, expertise and talent. I am delighted that Welsh Government has been able to play a decisive role in bringing this investment to Wales.”

Ninth Floor UK Productions Limited – the company behind the series - will be based at Dragon Studio in Pontyclun for nine months of the year with location shooting in and around South Wales as well as London.

Executive Producer Alison Owen said:

“Filming at Dragon International Film Studios  has provided many advantages for the production - using Dragon's four stages and its extensive backlot, we have been able to create a whole world in one place. The streets of Shakespeare's London spread out on the backlot, whilst the huge Theatre takes up one whole stage, additional interior sets complete the show's universe. Other breath-taking exterior locations are a stone's throw away, giving scope and breadth to the show's visual landscape. The close proximity of so many locations has given us an ease and efficiency enabling us to be ambitious with our show, giving us terrific 'bang for our buck' and putting the budget on the screen. With access to the experienced Welsh crew based in the area, in Cardiff and Swansea, while only a couple of hours from London on the train, it has been the perfect choice for us.”

Last month the Welsh Government launched a promotional showreel featuring clips from the latest major productions filmed in Wales to promote Wales worldwide as a premier location for TV and feature film production.