All the world’s a stage – or at least it is in Wales
If you’ve been to the cinema or watched a box set in the past few years, chances are you’ve seen something that’s been filmed or produced in Wales. Sherlock, Doctor Who, Hinterland, Transformers: The Last Knight, Da Vinci’s Demons, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Born to Kill and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are just a few of the high profile productions that have chosen Wales as the place to shoot high quality drama and film.
It’s no coincidence that major studios and big hitters in the creative industry are choosing Wales over other worldwide locations. Of course Wales is a nation that is blessed with incredible natural assets, but it’s not just our stunning vistas that are proving to be excellent bait for creative types. The lure is in fact economic and largely due to a long term strategy by the Welsh Government, led by its Creative Industries Sector Panel.
Creating the right environment
Since its inception in 2010 the Creative Industries Sector Panel has played a pivotal role in attracting over £100m of investment into Wales. The panel’s support helped bring Pinewood Studio Wales and Wolf Studios Wales to Cardiff and Bay Studios to Swansea – facilities which between them have already hosted Amazon Prime’s Paris-set drama series The Collection, the aforementioned Da Vinci’s Demons and upcoming Netflix feature film Apostle. The TV adaptation of the international best-selling A Discovery of Witches trilogy, is currently in production in Cardiff, staring Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge; Berlin Syndrome) and Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey; The Good Wife) in starring roles.
And when you consider that these facilities are bolstered by the proximity of three national parks – Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire coast and the Brecon Beacons – all of which have been utilised as filming locations on a variety of productions in the past; then the reasons for establishing productions in Wales are easy to understand.
It’s not all about encouraging inward investment, Wales Screen was established in 2002 to provide logistical assistance to indigenous productions, as well as working to attract productions from outside of Wales, making use of the Welsh Government’s £30m Media Investment Budget (MIB).
The best of these productions pick up the ultimate accolades. Here in Wales, they’re handed out by BAFTA Cymru who has been celebrating the best of television and film industries in Wales for three decades.
Speaking about the importance of BAFTA Cymru within the Welsh creative sector, Hannah Raybould, Director BAFTA Cymru said: “The British Academy Cymru Awards are in their 26th year which only goes to show the strength of the industry here in Wales. Our 2016-2017 Awards saw an increase in entries, attendees and nominations reflecting the growth in productions featuring Welsh talent.
“We’re also seeing an increase in engagement from the sector and a genuine desire to celebrate the talent that we have here in Wales. It’s not only our film and television industry that’s increasing in scale and profile, but also the burgeoning games sector which is also making a considerable impact on the positive story we are able to tell the world.”
Every production needs good people. There’s good news on that front. Wales has the availability of highly skilled native professionals the industry needs in abundance. From make-up and costume designers, to special effects and sound engineers, as well as location managers and production managers, the people power is here. And more are being trained all the time thanks to an array of hands-on academic courses (for example, you can study costume construction for screen and stage at Coleg y Cymoedd plus Animation, Games and Visual Effects at the University of South Wales) focused on training the next generation of freelance crew.
The past decade has seen a sizable increase in the creative industries impact on Wales’ economy, with around 50,000 people making up the workforce, with typical weekly earnings of £600 per week, far exceeding the average wage in Wales.
With figures such as these it’s clear Wales’ £1.73bn creative industries are a safe bet for future prosperity and an indisputable contender in the world market. If you’re looking for a base for your next production, make it in Wales.