Tuesday, 11 December 2018

New Welsh government -- new opportunities for TV and film?

Simon Curtis from Equity has complained about lack of opportunities for Welsh actors to be involved in big dramas telling the Welsh story

We have discussed (many times, on this blog) the frequent use of Welsh locations, Welsh actors and Welsh production facilities for the making of films and TV series  for network or cinema distribution --and we have featured many grumbles from  the media and from the unions about the lack of any real commitment to the telling of genuine Welsh stories.   Money is dished out quite liberally to production companies, and undoubtedly brings economic returns, and it's true that some rather dark dramas do tell Welsh stories and do obtain UK-wide broadcasts.  "Hinterland", "Keeping Faith" and "Requiem" have done very well.  But when the powers that be are asked "Why is there no requirement on the big production companies to tell real Welsh stories?" the usual response is something like this:

A Welsh Government spokesman said productions it had backed such as Hinterland and Keeping Faith have "shown the breadth and quality of acting talent we have on our doorstep".

"Any financial support given to productions to come and film here is based on a commitment to spend large proportions of their budgets on the production supply chain and the wider Welsh economy," the spokesman added.

"This spend has to be evidenced before funding is released. Our funding helps to ensure that a number of roles within a production are filled from within Wales."

Bland and defensive.  It need not be like this.  I have written a number of times to Culture Ministers and civil servants asking that more pressure should be put on film and TV programme makers to prioritise Welsh stories and to encourage Welsh screenwriters to get involved in the creation of stories and the fashioning of scripts  -- but every time I have been met with zero enthusiasm.  As I have said before, one might be led to believe that enthusiasm has been banned in Wales........ so while Northern Ireland and Scotland develop quite strong brands via film and TV, Wales hides timidly in the undergrowth, seemingly convinced that nobody much wants to hear our own stories. 

Burt tomorrow Mark Drakeford takes over as First Minister, and he will be appointing a new set of Ministers for his first cabinet.  Opportunity time?  Let us hope so........ 

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