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Hot Spots: Paul Feig Talks Shooting ‘The School for Good and Evil’ in Northern Ireland

There was no room for the big young adult movie to be housed in the Surrey-based facility when Netflix was looking to shoot its Paul Feig-directed fantasy-adventure The School for Good and Evil at its Shepperton Studios hub just outside of London in 2020.

In an unprecedented move, the busy streamer chose to travel across the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland to film the Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington movie. The series, which premieres today on the streamer and is based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Soman Chainani, follows best friends Sophie and Agatha as they have their friendship tested when they are sent away to a magical academy for aspiring fairy-tale heroes and villains.

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Michelle Yeoh, Laurence Fishburne, Sofia Wylie, and Sophia Anne Caruso, and these actors also appear. According to Feig, who is from Belfast, “I really wanted to shoot there because I know folks who shot there, friends of mine from Game of Thrones, and friends who are from there too.” “It seemed to be close enough to London that getting there and back would be simple.

Although that didn’t turn out to be the case due to the epidemic. In April 2021, Belfast Harbour Studios and Loop Studios opened for the 66-day production, and according to director Paul Feig, who was filming in the area for the first time, “it really was a delight to work there.” The filmmaker remarked, “At every step, it felt like we could obtain what we needed.
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It wasn’t overly crowded at the time and was set up for production that knew how to do it. The production was successful in creating “huge sets” to contain the fantastical setting required for the expensive endeavor (Feig declined to reveal the number). Since we took over Belfast Harbour Studios, where the majority of the sets were built, he said, “I really hope they expand it more.”

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Feig claimed that the locales where The School for Good and Evil was filmed “didn’t disappoint,” including the Big Dog Forest in Ulster and the Victorian home and garden Mount Stewart in County Down. We had a great day working at Mount Stewart, where there is a wonderful setting surrounding a lovely pond.

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Feig emphasizes that the most important lessons learned from his first experience filming in the country are that Northern Ireland offers good value for money and that, with the right support from the government, the area will continue to advance in the global production boom by upgrading its workforce and expanding its crew base.

Anyone looking for a place to live or who wants to find more jobs might consider Belfast because there is so much coming in there if they actively start training more people to work in the movie production arts. The School for Good and Evil is the first feature film that Feig has directed for Netflix.
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While he would prefer to see the film in theatres because “it just plays so beautifully on the small screen,” he acknowledges that due to the streamer’s extensive audience, “more people are going to see this movie than any movie I’ve done before because it’s just so easy to access it at the end of the day.”

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In his words, “Netflix was extremely supportive when they presented me with this concept, which I liked, and then I was able to do all of my rewrites and all of the stuff I did on the script. And the cost of the movie is high. They would contribute as we went along as we learned we would need additional money for this and that.

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