Wales on Screen
Wales is a hotbed of creative energy with its newly invigorated creative industries sector home to dozens of companies involved in the TV and film industries, many of which are currently involved in filming and producing some exciting projects. With such a buzz surrounding the Welsh industry it can be hard to keep track of the different projects on our doorstep, so we’ve rounded up the shows and movies made in Wales that we can expect to see on our screens in the next 12 months, and take a look at the companies behind the boom in Welsh TV and film.
Bad Wolf is the production company behind the TV adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials, which has brought the likes of Hollywood and Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda to Wales for filming in 2018. Also starring Dafne Keene and James McAvoy, filming for the show began during summer 2018 at Wolf Studios Wales in Cardiff. As well as a stellar cast, the production team includes a host of award-winning, industry names. Design lead Joel Collins has also worked on Black Mirror and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the show’s costume designer is Caroline McCall (Downton Abbey, Hyde Park on Hudson). Hair and make-up design are by Pamela Haddock (The Terror, Sherlock), director of photography for block one is Justin Brown (Sixteen) and casting director is Kathleen Crawford (I, Daniel Blake, Filth).
The His Dark Materials fiction trilogy has been published in more than 40 languages and has sold close to 18 million copies around the world. All eyes will be on Wales as fans of the series and industry leaders watch closely as the Bad Wolf production develops.
The Cardiff-based production company is also behind the Sky One flagship autumn offering – A Discovery of Witches, bringing Deborah Harkness’ best-selling novels to life. As well as filming at Wolf Studios Wales, viewers in Wales will be able to spot other iconic locations used as backdrops in the series, from Aberglasney Gardens and Llyn y Fan Fach in Carmarthenshire, to Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire and Insole Court and Cardiff Market in the capital. With 125million subscribers Netflix is ensuring eyes will also be on the Welsh valleys and a pivotal moment in our history. Season 3 of The Crown has filmed an episode centred on the Aberfan disaster which is set to air in 2019. Scenes were shot in September 2018 at a vacant primary school building in the village of Cwmaman near Aberdare as well as external street filming in Ferndale, leaving fans hoping for sightings of Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Coleman stepping out in the valleys on screen.
Netflix is also behind Apostle, a new, Wales-filmed horror from the streaming giant. Starring Welsh actor Michael Sheen, Apostle was co-produced by Cardiff-based Severn Screen and was filmed at locations around south Wales, which included the building of an entire village set at Margam Park and scenes shot at the spectacular Pontsticill Reservoir near the Brecon Beacons. It is directed by Welsh director, screenwriter and editor, Gareth Evans.
Watchmen (HBO) has filmed key sequences in Penrhyn Castle in North Wales. Starring Jeremy Irons, the American drama television series is based on the comic book limited series of the same name created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and is set to premiere in 2019 on HBO. The series was created by Damon Lindelof, who was also writer and executive producer.
It’s clear that as well as offering the industry infrastructure for producing the biggest TV and film, Wales’ varied and dramatic landscape is taking a lead role for producers and viewers alike. S4C and BBC Wales joint project Keeping Faith was a smash hit, where viewers UK-wide raved about the beautiful Carmarthenshire scenery in the show, filmed mainly around the town of Laugharne. Vox Pictures produced the drama with the aid of Nevision, Cinematic Productions, Soundworks and About Premium Content, and series 2 of the Welsh BBC iPlayer sensation has already been announced to popular acclaim.
Scenes for a new film starring Robert Downey Jr, The Voyage of Dr Dolittle featured the Menai Bridge on Anglesey over the summer. The fantasy comedy adventure film is released in January 2020. Other celebrities spotted filming in Wales in 2018 include Dame Judi Dench, who was in Penarth filming scenes for the film Six Minutes to Midnight and Oscar nominated Sally Hawkins was in Cardiff and Sully filming for Eternal Beauty, by Welsh director Craig Roberts. All of the above productions have been supported by either Welsh Government financial or practical support.
Returning to TV, Channel 4 has announced a Welsh project for 2019. The Light will be set in a small Welsh community and focus on the repercussions of a catastrophic disaster in the village. Written by BAFTA-winning Jack Thorne, whose previous credits include Kiri, National Treasure and This is England.
It seems that with continuing investment in the industry, including training and skills, and a highly skilled supply chain, that includes set builders and costume and prop designers, Wales’ reputation as one of the hottest places to produce film and TV will continue to burgeon.
For more information on the Welsh creative sector, take a look at our industry overview.
Image credit: Bad Wolf