A new Fermanagh company Erne Valley Communications is currently in the process of conducting a scoping study on behalf of Future Screens NI on the viability of bringing a film studio to the county and is looking to engage with locals.

Erne Valley Communications, founded by business partners Enniskillen-native Kevin McCann and Dane McDonald from Newtownbutler, is currently based in the INTEC Centre, Enniskillen.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter, Kevin explained that Fermanagh is a prime location for a film studio due to its unique selling point - The Border.

Commenting that the Border gives Fermanagh "potential over anywhere else" that has not yet been "harnessed", Kevin said: "With this booming film industry [in Northern Ireland] we have the opportunity to turn [the Border] into an advantage. By offering productions very convenient access to the UK film credit and the Irish film credit, they can save a huge amount on their budgets."

Acknowledging that what is happening in Belfast regarding filmmaking is "very impressive", especially with the use of virtual production, Kevin said: "Virtual production is the new era of filmmaking where, instead of green screens, you're using LED screens. It gives far better light and it's far more effective.

"The Department for the Economy said that virtual production is going to be one of the leading technologies driving the Northern Ireland economy.

"So essentially I'll be asking, what's Fermanagh doing about that," he added.

As part of the scoping study, Kevin has interviewed quite a few private and public stakeholders, to look at the viability of bringing film studios to the Border region, including representatives of South West College's Erne Campus and local business people.

Kevin noted how he had a "great meeting" with Alan Cathcart at St. Angelo Airport.

"What Alan and his team are doing out there is very impressive and if somebody were to say to me, 'do you have a well-run airport within the region', I would confidently say yes.

"London is an hour away from Enniskillen and that's a very positive factor too.

"We're not isolated here, although sometimes it could be perceived that we are, so it's up to us collectively to say we're not isolated.

"We are a gem that is ready to be involved in the booming film and TV industry," he said.

Kevin has also been in contact with representatives of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council regarding the scoping study.

"A successful studio or successful creative enterprise is going to need, without question, the support of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council," he said, adding that he has also spoken with Invest NI, Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) and other agencies including NI Screen.

Talking about some of the benefits of a film studio in the area, such as employment prospects, Kevin said: "We have an interest in generating the indigenous industry but in order to do that we'll end up initially being a service industry for larger incoming productions.

"The idea would be that ultimately, five years or maybe 10 years down the road we'd have a thriving, creative community and with all local employment," he added, noting that currently, somebody who is skilled from Fermanagh, tends to go to Belfast, or Dublin or London because there's no film trade here: "We would anticipate that with a successful studio, we could keep those people here and then bring some back."

The scoping study for a film studio in Fermanagh is very timely, with Paul Feig, the director of 'The School for Good and Evil', a film released on Netflix this week, calling for more film studios to open in Northern Ireland after filming the production at Belfast's Harbour Studios and other locations across the country.

In an interview with BBC News NI, Paul confirmed that some of the scenes from the action-adventure film were shot in Big Dog Forest, Derrygonnelly and Castle Archdale. He described Big Dog Forest as "so stunning that most people watching the movie will go: 'That's a special effect.'"

If you are interested in contributing to the study or wish to share your thoughts, get in touch with Kevin via email: kevin@ernevalleycomms.co.uk.