I'm Dan Cheesbrough, Managing Director of Hartswood Films. Hartswood is a very established scripted production company, and my role involves mostly the commercial and strategic sides of what we do. We have two offices: Surrey and Cardiff Bay. And we've got a long history of producing shows in and around all parts of Wales.
We recently shot a psychological, drama-thriller-horror for the BBC around South Wales called Wolf. It’s had support from Creative Wales – they were central to us being able to proceed with that production, which will air next year.
It's exciting for us because not only do we shoot it in Wales, but it’s also editorially based in Wales. It has a strong Welsh cast; it's got a lot of beautiful Welsh locations; it’s Welsh to its core and heart.
You just have to look at the production that's attracted to Wales to know and understand they are some of the best crews in the world. The sense of camaraderie you get on a Welsh production is very specifically-Welsh.
Locations are also fundamental. I don't think we've ever failed to find the location that we've needed across many major productions. The great success recently is the wider access to facilities – the ability to contain your show and not just shoot it there, but also post-produce it has grown considerably.
The other thing is connectivity. I can get into Cardiff in two and a half hours very easily. That's not to say we don't have people there – we have our dedicated office, so we've got teams on the ground.
When we are taking a show to Wales to shoot, we work closely with Creative Wales to identify the skills gaps and make sure our show creates the right entry points for trainees. For example, a production like Wolf will have many trainee roles – from sparks to location scouts to production accountants. We’re heavily invested in bringing through new, diverse Welsh talent across the board.
Representation is something we're very focused on with Creative Wales – ways in which we can improve the pool within which we source trainees. By that, I mean all areas of underrepresentation, whether it's ethnicity, socio-economic, gender, or age.
Having a Welsh office, led by a brilliant Welsh producer like Brian Minchin, and the heritage we have shooting in Wales; it's an absolute no-brainer for us to help develop the next generation of young Welsh talent. For ourselves, and more broadly to support the wider success and longevity of production in Wales.
When it comes to applying for production funding from Creative Wales, you must make a very strong case for the short, medium, and long-term economic benefits of what you're doing.
You must demonstrate that your show is going to be market-leading in terms of sustainability practice – that’s a fundamental part of the agenda. More broadly than that, skills and training are integral. You must make sure the investment that Creative Wales brings to a project shows real tangible on-the-ground, long-term benefits from a training perspective.
Then there's representation – you must make sure that while working with Creative Wales, the production is doing absolutely everything it possibly can to be a force for good and improve access for underrepresented groups.
Our most recent application was Wolf, the six-part BBC series I mentioned earlier. We hope this will be a long-running show, across multiple series. The expectation is that it will return to Wales for many years to come, and consequently provide major long-term opportunities for trainees to progress through the ranks and rise to be next-generation Heads of Department across Wales. Before that, we had support during lockdown for a production called Roald and Beatrix: The Tale of the Curious Mouse, which was a Christmas TV movie that we made for Sky. It was the story of Roald Dahl at the age of six meeting Beatrix Potter when she was around 60. That was delightful to tell a story about Roald Dahl's origin in Wales while filming in Wales.
This funding is essential, and we don’t take it for granted. We understand that it's public money, and it needs to be deployed in a way that is respectful of that, now more than ever. You'd be hard-pushed to find a more supportive team in any nation or region than the Creative Wales team.
Our production fund is open to those projects seeking to film from October onwards this year