Nightflyers, the new sci-fi drama by Game of Thrones creator George RR Martin, has completed its first week of filming in Troy Studios in Limerick and the cast say that the psychological thriller, meets sci-fi horror is definitely not family viewing.

Set in the near future, the drama is based on a 1980 short story by Martin and centres on a group of scientists on a mission to the edge of the solar system where they hope to make contact with a race of aliens who may be able to save a planet earth beset by a multitude of problems.

"Nightflyers is a dark science fiction show in the vein of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Event Horizon." - Eoin Macken

The big budget Syfy show is being produced by NBC Universal and Universal Cable Productions, along with Wild Atlantic Pictures, and is set to air on Netflix later this year.

The ten-part drama was launched on Friday at a reception attended by Minister for Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan, former cabinet minister Michael Noonan, and Mayor of Limerick Stephen Keary.

Watch our interview with Eoin Macken

Former Fair City actor Eoin Macken plays Nighflyers’ lead character, reclusive astrophysicist Karl D’Branin, and speaking to RTE Entertainment at the launch, he said, "Nightflyers is a dark science fiction show in the vein of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Event Horizon about a group of scientists who go deep into space to try and meet these aliens which they believe exist beyond the stars. It’s extremely dark. It’s a very moody science fiction show."  

Speaking about his character, Macken said: "D’Branin is the reluctant leader of this band of scientists. He’s the guy who discovered these aliens and he’s the only one who knows exactly how to get to them so he’s had to leave his wife behind on earth and lead these scientists out to meet the aliens."

Watch our interview with Maya Eshet

A crew of 500 is working on the 16-week shoot at the 35,000 square foot Troy Studios and the production is expected to bring up to €70m to the local economy. The Irish Film Board has given €850,000 in support to the show.

"The scale and scope of the show is enormous," Executive Producer Gene Klein told RTÉ Entertainment. "That’s one of the reasons why we’re here in Ireland - we were lucky enough to find this brand new facility in Limerick that is large enough for us to build this extremely large spaceship and then there’s obviously a lot of huge visual effects on top of that. This is one of the biggest things I’ve ever worked on."

The cast also includes Love/Hate actor Brian F. O’Byrne, Boardwalk Empire star Gretchen Mol, and David Ajala who was in Fast & Furious 6.

"The scale and scope of the show is enormous. That’s one of the reasons why we’re here in Ireland." - Executive Producer Gene Klein

Israeli actress Maya Eshet plays Lommie, a gender fluid cyber technician. "What she can do is port into computers - she has a plug in her arm and she can plug in and manerouve the data inside computers." Eshet said, adding that she is impressed by Troy Studios, which has been converted from Limerick’s former Dell computer factory.

Watch our interview with Executive Producer Gene Klein

"They have three sound stages and I got lost on set! They gave us a tour and I got lost - so I got lost on the spaceship basically. It’s very large, it’s all newly-renovated."

Given the connection with George RR Martin and Game of Thrones, the cast and crew are aware of the level of expectation for Nightflyers. "It’s exciting because you know that the world we’ve created is so vast and intricate because what George RR Martin does is create these great characters, plots and stories," says Macken.

"It’s the same with this show - we are going to places that are really interesting and the viewer will want to be involved with them and from a story point of view and an acting point of view, that’s exciting."  

Alan Corr @corralan