With four large stages and a vast backlot area, Dragon Studios can accommodate the biggest film productions — and it’s within easy reach of Wales’ most spectacular filming locations. Tom Guy shares his ambitious plans for the studios’ future.
What are the latest developments at Dragon Studios?
I’m part of the team that acquired Dragon Studios in early 2019. We finalised the deal and immediately started work with the people at NBCUniversal. They’ll be basing themselves in Wales for the rest of this year to shoot their next series – an adaptation of Brave New World, the Aldous Huxley novel. Looking beyond that, we’re planning to create a media hub at Dragon Studios, and we’ve already had several enquiries from businesses wanting to be part of it. We’re talking to lighting companies, post-production facilities, special effects people and location kit supply companies. There’s a broad range of businesses keen to have a presence here and work with us.
Why are so many film companies choosing to come to Wales?
From my own background as a film and TV location manager, I can say – hand on heart – Wales is one of the best places you can come for stunning film locations. There are just so many fantastic places in Wales that we can access relatively quickly. If you’re shooting in London and you drive for two hours, you haven’t really got out of London. But two hours from Dragon Studios can take you to Mid Wales, Bristol, the coast of the Gower Peninsula or the Brecon Beacons. You have all these different types of scene, from cityscapes to landscapes to epic wilderness – or forests, beaches, caves – all within reach. They’re all easily accessible from where we are.
Has the Welsh Government been able to help you attract business?
Yes. We liaise very closely with the Welsh Government when film productions want to be based here. The film company will quite often contact the Welsh Government directly. They, in turn, will get in touch with us, and we can think about putting a package together to explain how we could work with them.
How are you making sure you have the skills base to cope with these big productions?
One of our main goals is to educate the next generation. We’re collaborating with Screen Alliance Wales and other industry organisations, and we’ll be linking with colleges in the region to set up work experience and other schemes to allow talented young people to learn on the job. I think that’s among the most important things we can do as an industry.
What would you say to other businesses in the creative industries that are considering Wales?
In the last few years, the talent pool in Wales has grown. There’s are plenty of skilled people working not just in our part of the industry, but in other sectors alongside us – such as the carpenters who build sets for our productions. Where we’re positioned in Wales, we also have easy access to cities with a wealth of knowledge and skill. At the moment, Cardiff is one of the most advanced places in the UK for creative technology, and that’s feeding into the post-production capabilities that we have available to us in Wales.
What does the future hold for Dragon Studios?
It’s all positive. We’re seeing a lot of demand, a lot of calls and emails, from production companies that would like to be based here. That’s something we knew would happen because we know what Wales has to offer. We have great studio facilities, some of the best locations in the country and an incredible workforce. It’s no wonder the industry is thriving here.