My name is Gwen Thomson, and I’m an artist who works in theatre and film, and a little bit in television as well. I grew up in Scotland and have settled in North-West Wales, up in Gwynedd.
I started out as a technician in theatre, when I was in my 20s, working mostly as a sound technician in musicals. I then did some work with Scottish television before starting circus training. I spent 10 years working in the circus, doing technical stuff as well.
I used to describe my career as being a bit like potpourri. You know, it's a little bit of everything. After musicals and television, I started directing, mostly theatre and live events. Then in 2019, we moved back to Wales and the pandemic hit. Obviously, all the theatres shut down. And that's when I started looking again at film and television.
In 2020, I started learning editing software. I took the technical knowledge from theatre and combined it with my directing knowledge of how to piece a story together.
I set up a small business supporting amateur companies and semi-pro companies to create virtual choirs through editing. Over the last two years, my career has jumped from being purely theatre to being mostly video and online work.
I was awarded a bursary by the NFTS (National Film and Television School) to do a course in video editing. It was three days based at BBC Wales in Cardiff, taught by a professional editor. It was a technical skills course, based on learning the editing software, but it was also an opportunity to sit in a room with the editor and ask – but what creative choices would you make? How do you choose which stories to tell in One Born Every Minute? It was a really good opportunity to experience a broadcast setup.
I couldn’t have done the NFTS course without the bursary. As a freelancer, at this stage of a career in a new industry, it wouldn't have been possible. If getting a full-time job in an editing house, where they can pay on your behalf, isn't an option that's viable, either because you live rurally or you have young children, then bursaries still make courses like this achievable. I think that’s really important.
I'd never thought about going back into television and film, but I've been so well encouraged. In Wales, there’s a real welcome, and openness to new ideas. Living here I find there’s a difference in my attitude towards my work as well; I feel a lot freer in what I can do creatively, and in the opportunities I can create for myself. Over the past year, I’ve been piecing together a film supported by Ffilm Cymru’s Ffolio programme.
At the beginning of the pandemic, it felt like there was a big crisis of creative confidence. People were asking: Why am I doing this? Is this really what I want for my life? Doing the virtual choirs work and seeing those people singing with such passion in their eyes, I realised that's why I'm doing this. Because I'm facilitating these people whose passion is to stay together and keep doing the thing that brings them alive.
Looking to hone your skills in a particular creative field? See the full list of NFTS Cymru-Wales courses