It is no secret that Wales’ creative industries sector is firing on all cylinders. From the set of Crimewatch, to highly anticipated TV adaptations including His Dark Materials, Wales is making ‘lights, camera, action’ possible.
Previously we have shone a light on the dozens of film and TV companies involved in filming and producing some of the most exciting new movies and television series of the moment. And we’ve also showcased the firms working right across the creative industries sector in Wales, with everyone from digital agencies, PR and marketing teams, production and sound companies, game designers and more, all of who are pushing the creative envelope, both at home and abroad.
But what about the people who bring these creative visions to life? Who are the people behind the scenes (and building them)? Who are creating the props? And what about the costumes?
Quite simply there is an army of craft specialists bringing the visions of script writers, directors, producers and communications teams to life; a creative collective of enormous talent that has quickly made the Welsh creative supply chain a force to be reckoned with, affording us a status as one of the world’s most exciting new creative hubs.
South Wales-based set building firm 4Wood are responsible for some of the most high profile TV and film backdrops of recent years. Their long list of credits includes recent award season smash hit The Favourite (filmed largely at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire), the forthcoming His Dark Materials and the recent A Discovery of Witches (both Bad Wolf productions principally shot in south Wales), not to mention other favourites including Sherlock, Keeping Faith and Broadchurch.
Gareth Skelding, Location Manager for A Discovery of Witches, said of one of the sets built for production: “The vast 250,000 sq ft Bad Wolf Studios in Cardiff Bay played host to a number of large sets that the production required, including a huge replica of Oxford University’s acclaimed Bodleian Library in which the action really kicks off. I was told that over 5km of books were needed to line the shelves! No small undertaking but the results are breathtaking.”
And the academic world is ensuring that the next generation of set designers and builders are coming through the ranks. The BA (Hons) TV and Film Set Design at the University of South Wales is a specialist course, with very few others nationally and internationally.
Wales has a rich heritage of successful costume designers. None more so than Carmarthenshire born Oscar winner Lindy Hemming, who is most recently known for her work on The Dark Knight, Harry Potter and Casino Royale, among numerous Bond titles.
At the 2018 BAFTA Cymru awards Lindy was awarded with the acclaimed Siân Phillips Award, which is designed to acknowledge a Welsh person who has made a significant contribution to international feature filmmaking.
Selected by the BAFTA Cymru Committee, it has previously been awarded to writers Abi Morgan and Russell T Davies, make-up artist Siân Grigg, director Euros Lyn, actors Rhys Ifans, Michael Sheen, Ioan Gruffudd, Rob Brydon, Matthew Rhys, and writer/actress/producer Ruth Jones.
At the same awards the skills of costume designers Sarah-Jane Perez, Sian Jenkins and Zoe Howerska, all of who are based in Wales, were also acknowledged for their work on Keeping Faith, Requiem and Bang respectively.
Academically, Coleg y Cymoedd based in Nantgarw offers both a Foundation Degree and BA (Hons) in Costume Construction for Stage and Screen, in partnership with the University of South Wales. Students enter costume competitions at national level and undertake a specialist area of study within a chosen film or theatre context. There are excellent links with the industry providing opportunities for the costume construction undergraduate to work as part of a production team in the role of the costume maker alongside their study.
Cardiff based Wild Creations create sculptures, props and displays for all sorts of industries. Rugby fans may remember their impressive Ball in the Wall installation at Cardiff Castle to promote the 2015 Rugby World Cup. However much of their work takes place in the stage, TV and film sector.
For the launch of Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, Wild Creations created four full-size T-Rexes which were installed globally in the UK, France, Germany and for the World Premier of the film in the USA.
And for the release of Universal’s How to Train Your Dragon - the Hidden Kingdom, they were asked to create seven Toothless models to be used within a green screen experience created by Stellar. The creations travelled to 6 countries across the world.
For the launch of the remake of Ghostbusters, Sony Pictures commissioned a giant Staypuft man crashing through the floor of Waterloo Station. Slime covered CCTV cameras and a New York Subway themed retail unit completed the station take over.
The creative talent within Wales has not gone unnoticed. In autumn 2018 it was announced that creative businesses based in and around the Welsh capital were set to benefit from new research and development opportunities, thanks to a successful bid to the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) led by Cardiff University.
Cardiff’s Clwstwr Creadigol is part of the UK Industrial Strategy’s Creative Industries Clusters Programme; Clwstwr Creadigol is one of nine projects in the UK to be chosen for the five-year funding stream.
The result is an unprecedented multi-million pound research investment into our creative economy. The Clwstwr Creadigol will focus on the screen and news industries to bring business together with world-class research talent from leading UK universities, in partnership with the Welsh Government, industry and organisations from across the creative industries sector.