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Shakespearean 'Will' to be biggest budget US TV production shot in Wales

Filming  is underway at Dragon Studios, Pencoed, on the biggest budget US TV production ever to be shot in Wales.

Will, a high end drama series based on the early life of William Shakespeare, is to be filmed in Wales for broadcast in the US and will have the largest budget and highest spend of any production shot in Wales to date.

It is the latest US production to be brought to Wales and follows other high profile productions such as Da Vinci's Demons, The Bastard Executioner and The Collection.

Backed by finance from the Welsh Government it is anticipated that the production will generate £18m spend into the local economy.

The first series of nine episodes has been commissioned following the success of an initial pilot programme that was filmed in London.

Support from the Welsh Government means that a significant proportion of filming and production will be undertaken in Wales.

Welcoming the news Economy Cabinet Secretary Ken Skates described it as a great ‘win’ and a huge boost for the creative industries sector in Wales: “This really does tick all the boxes. It has the highest budget of any production filmed in Wales to date and the largest local spend ever attracted to Wales which is great news for the Welsh film and TV sector. It supports our sector strategy to attract high end drama to Wales with a specific focus on the lucrative US market and with the probability of repeat series. I am delighted that Welsh Government support has secured this investment for Wales. It gives us a platform, not just in the US, but globally to promote Wales as a great location for filming which is backed by real expertise and talent. It will provide a great opportunity for Welsh companies and freelancers while helping to expand the supply chain and increasing and up-skilling the crew base in Wales.”

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

TNT has ordered 10 episodes of Will , a brand new drama that tells the wild story of young William Shakespeare, played by newcomer Laurie Davidson . Also starring are Olivia DeJonge (The Visit, Hiding), Colm Meaney (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Hell on Wheels), Mattias Inwood (The Shanara Chronicles), Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd, The Twilight Saga) and Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting, Snowpiercer).

Will opens with a young William Shakespeare (Davidson) just arriving onto the punk-rock theatre scene in 16th century London. It is in this seductive, violent world that his raw talent faces rioting audiences, religious fanatics and raucous sideshows. This is the exciting, dangerous and contemporary version of Shakespeare's life, played to a modern soundtrack that exposes all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance.

Executive Producer Alison Owen says: “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.”

The production is working closely with Wales Screen to ensure local talent is used as much as possible. If Will proves to be a global commercial success it is hoped future series will be based in Wales.