Lives Remembered

Jo Gilbert: Film producer (63) who flew 'staggeringly energetic flag' for screen industry in Northern Ireland

Jo Gilbert's contribution to the development of the screen industry in Northern Ireland was described as immense

Jo Gilbert played a crucial role in the development of the now-thriving film industry in Northern Ireland.

It was the English-born producer who had the vision to see that Harland and Wolff's disused Paint Hall, where component parts of ships were once painted, could be capable of housing huge film sets.

In what was described as a "whirlwind style that was all her own", she turned it into a studio for Terry Ryan's film adaptation of the Spike Milligan comedy novel Puckoon, released back in 2002.

She then recommended it to a colleague for the children's sci-fi adventure City Of Ember, starring Bill Murray and Saoirse Ronan, which made Belfast its home during 2007.

More producers heard about the new space including the makers of Game of Thrones, who made it their headquarters, as film production suddenly became a huge growth industry in Belfast.

Northern Ireland Screen said it was deeply saddened to hear of the premature death of Ms Gilbert, who was based in Co Down.

"Jo flew a staggeringly energetic flag for the potential of the film industry for Northern Ireland long before anyone else would take it seriously," it said.

"Indefatigable in her belief that a film industry could thrive in Northern Ireland, Jo delivered two of the most critical and earliest developments in the screen industry's growth.

"She also produced Richard Attenborough's last film, Closing the Ring (2006), which in many ways marked the beginning of international screen industry figures working in Northern Ireland.

"Jo was not always on the best of terms with Northern Ireland Screen but her contribution to the development of the screen industry was immense and we are thankful that she chose to align her energy and belief with Northern Ireland."

Born in Leicester in 1955, Ms Gilbert's worked as a theatrical agent for more than a decade before earning production credits for The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1992), The Brylcreen Boys (1998) and Darkness Falls (1999).

She was also a casting director on several films and won several awards.

She died aged 63 in Newtownards on September 15 after battling a brain tumour and is survived by her children Bridey and Hal.

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Lives Remembered
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