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Bittersweet story of the Welsh film and tv industry

16/05/2019

The Welsh film and tv industry needs a sustainable strategy and rigorous promotion to continue growing, according to the National Assembly's Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee.

The Committee learned Wales' screen industry is growing faster than the UK average, has world class facilities, and there are Welsh people making award-winning films and tv series across the world.

As an example, the Committee was told by the University of South Wales that 26 of its Film and TV School graduates were involved in Oscar-winning films in the past year.

These are just some of the reasons the Committee believes the screen industry in Wales must be given a higher profile by the Welsh Government.

It should also to do more to develop the indigenous industry – 'to help tell Welsh stories that can echo across the world.'

The Committee recommends that more of the benefits of international productions are made in Wales are felt here in Wales. This includes exploring the practicality of setting requirements for any production which receives Government funding, which would include:

  • holding at least one audition here so that Welsh talent can compete on a level playing field;
  • that they are required to enter into co-production agreements with local companies;
  • that they are required to meet an on-screen quota for Welsh talent.

The Committee heard – from witnesses including the BBC and Bad Wolf – that the biggest factor restricting growth in the screen industries in Wales is a potential skills shortage.

Natasha Hale, from Bad Wolf, warned the Committee: "if we keep growing too much without developing our talent and our skills, we will stop being able to deliver for the industry."

Gareth Williams, from Teledwyr Annibynnol Cymru (TAC), said: "inevitably, there will be a time where at some point in that chain there will be a shortage of skills, and so it's crucial that we should actually deal with that now in order to ensure that we don't see fewer productions coming to Wales in the future. We want to see it growing."

The Committee is calling on the Welsh Government to draw up a skills strategy which profiles the workforce, identifies the skills gaps and promotes opportunities in the industry at all educational levels.

The Committee also wants to know how the Government will maintain the impressive growth in the sector by working with industry professionals, providing financial support which is flexible and transparent and showing that it is willing to take risks.

The Chair of the Committee, Bethan Sayed AM, said:

"There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of the Welsh screen industry, Wales has produced stunning growth in this sector, by far the most impressive in the UK.

"However, we cannot take our foot off the pedal now, we must continue to invest in and support film and television producers.

"We want the Welsh Government to set out a strategy showing how they will support and maintain our current success. Most importantly, we want them to use any and every opportunity to help develop home-grown talent and productions with the potential to be sold internationally."

The Committee also looked at the Welsh Government's relationship with Pinewood Studios, located between Cardiff and Newport.

It concluded that the Welsh Government investing public money in a studio site which was described as unsuitable for large film productions, was disappointing; as was entering into an agreement with Pinewood for services which did not deliver the intended benefits.

However, the most unacceptable part was the lack of transparency shown by the Government.

The Committee has asked for a guarantee of more openness in future - when it comes to public money as it believes commercial confidentiality cannot be used as an excuse to avoid scrutiny of Government performance.

The Committee makes 17 recommendations in its report, including:

  • The Welsh Government should publish a strategy which sets out their vision of how Wales' screen industry can:
  • be financially secure;
  • develop small businesses to take advantage of larger scale productions;
  • attract productions with a range of values and cultural diversity;
  • support Welsh language and other distinctly Welsh productions with a view to increasing the visibility of Welsh language and culture on the international stage;
  • take responsibility for identifying and mitigating skills gaps through formal and informal learning; and how work and learning opportunities will be promoted to ensure they can be accessed by a diverse talent pool.

The Welsh Government's funding policy should be designed to build a sustainable Welsh screen industry. This includes exploring the option for requiring funding recipients to enter into co-production agreements with Welsh companies. The requirement to spend at least 35% of the 'below the line' production budget on local suppliers, cast, crew and facilities should apply to businesses registered and based in Wales.

The Welsh Government should require Creative Wales to draw up a skills strategy which:

  • provides information on the skilled workforce in Wales' screen industry;
  • audits the training and work placements being offered at all levels of education, including schools;
  • identifies how skills gaps will be filled and
  • seeks input from unions and employers on the future skills needs of the industry.

 

 

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