With the help of members, Film Hub Wales have been celebrating films with Welsh connections since 2014 through ‘Made in Wales’ (MIW). With financial support from Creative Wales in 2021, we explored new approaches to film release campaigns with the addition of a MIW Officer, from tailored advice, to asset development and press campaigns. The project is designed to bring Welsh film to audiences and Wales’ message to the world - shaping the perception of Welsh life and culture at home and abroad.
To create a new Made in Wales Officer role, that would offer advice and support to filmmakers, distributors and exhibitors, working to raise the profile of Welsh films.
To commission freelancers to lead interviews with talent and design added value assets for audiences to connect with at least 10 Welsh films, 10 filmmakers and 10 cinemas.
To complete 1 x R&D exercise into film performance data around Welsh films to establish benchmarks, along with a larger piece around the potential for Made in Wales as a brand.
To curate packages that showcase Welsh films and make programming easier for Hub members.
To lead press campaigns that raise the profile of Welsh films for both industry and audiences.
To maintain a database of Welsh films which is searchable for members, alongside online previews and advance screening for programmers.
To build relationships with distributors, filmmakers and across industry through regular meetings which improve advance collaboration on release campaigns and bring talent to exhibition settings.
Jobs - Radha joined our team as Made in Wales Officer, the first UK role of its kind to our knowledge! She’s been busy offering advice and support to filmmakers, distributors and exhibitors, working to raise the profile of Welsh films.
Data - We completed R&D into Made in Wales as a brand, a workshop with S4C for industry to explore themes of Welsh identity and a benchmarking review of 12 Welsh film performances pre-Covid.
Targets - We greatly exceeded our aims, with 157 films benefitting from varying levels of promotional support (63 feature films and 93 shorts) and 102 cinemas benefitting from curatorial and / or marketing support.
Programming - We ran our annual Welsh Preview Day for exhibitors, added 16 Welsh films added to the FHW online preview room for programmers, curated 4 film packages and exceeded 700 films on our online catalogue.
Marketing - We launched a new online space for Welsh stories called The Whole Story - a series of podcasts, interviews and assets designed to engage audiences for Welsh films, whilst also offering marketing support to both the filmmakers and exhibitors. We did 3 x interviews (Prano Bailey Bond, Rachel Dax and Sara Sugarman), 1 x podcast (The Toll), 1 x colouring sheet (Censor), 3 song sheets (Men Who Sing), 2 Cinema vlogs from young film enthusiasts. There were 26 assets in total plus 5 press campaigns.
Sector support - 66 Film-makers and 39 distribution companies benefitted from MIW support. Plus 3 industry meetings and 1 exhibitor meeting brought Welsh film organisations together to collaborate.
A Roof of Slate – We designed and curated a season of film for members marking the new UNESCO world heritage status of the North Wales slate landscape, exploring lesser known connections to the Atlantic Slave Trade.
Discussion – We have been able to start discussions about Welsh identity on screen, give focus to lesser known stories and challenge stereotypes about Welsh culture.
157 films (63 feature films and 93 shorts) including Censor, Rebel Dykes, Amber and Me, Save the Cinema, Men Who Sing, The Toll and Showdown.
- Film Hub Wales members. Venues such as Theatr Gwaun who hosted the premiere of The Toll, inviting Radha to lead a Q&A with the filmmakers,
- Distributors such as Vertigo, Signature, Sky and Dartmouth Films who explored approaches with us,
- Filmmakers such as Sara Sugarman and Rachel Dax who worked with us to create interview content,
- Made in Wales partners such as Into Film who participated in industry meetings and helped us to facilitate youth led reviews at cinema sites,
- Freelances such as Fedor Tot who created assets,
- Creative Wales as the principal funder.
Budget in brief
£27.610 Creative Wales
£809 FHW cash match
Approx £14,000 FHW staff time and overheads in kind
Having an Officer in post, created both the time and space needed to give these films the attention they need. The post also enables industry bodies to communicate more effectively.
Regular conversations with the distributors and filmmakers improved our relationships and supported exhibitors to make better deals and bring talent to regions of Wales outside of Cardiff.
With budget we can work with freelancers and build a creative network.
There is an awareness building around what Wales has to offer, which starts to break down damaging stereotypes about Welsh life, perpetuated by on screen tropes.
Having access to basic statistics enables us to analyse performance patterns and explore equality data.
What has been difficult
The main challenge for Made in Wales is helping stakeholders and partners to understand why it is so important. The natural focus is around production and development but the key for us is in marketing – storytelling. The result is that it is taking longer to achieve our ambitions for the project.
There is Welsh investment into the production of at least 8 Welsh releases per year, though we see far more with Welsh connections annually. Wales is home to the newest productions, we’re investing in talent and skills but if there’s no financial or staff time invested into the marketing and distribution of a film, no skills development for these jobs, no support for audience development or learning – are we giving that film the best chance of success? Could it be making a greater economic return on public investment? Could that emerging director’s story not have a positive impact inspiring new talent and changing perception of careers and life in Wales even.
We think there needs to be a rebalancing of funds, priorities and stories. We currently have no established regular funds in Wales for film specific marketing and distribution, although films can access BFI export and distribution funds and no established distributors based in Wales working with Welsh content. When you look to countries like Sweden, Canada and Ireland who are arguably exploring their on screen identity and being recognised for it, you find budgets for international promotion, national film magazines, data collection around performance – all being used to tell audiences stories about themselves, the county they live in and the screen industry they can aspire to be part of.
Working with such limited funds means a lot of work is done in house, which is beneficial for team development but stretches staff and limits opportunities for freelancers.
Awareness / Attitudes
Across the life of Made in Wales, we’ve been challenged on whether Welsh audiences care about whether a film has a Welsh director or actor, or location even. It has been suggested that audiences are really only interested in big names and genre and that Welsh identity is tied up in British identity.
Research told us that Welsh stories were doing well in Welsh cinemas and there was demand from cinemas, so it seemed that audiences did in fact care. We believe that with the right distribution and marketing strategy, films have the power to take Wales’ message to the world and shape perception of Welsh life and culture at home.
Made in Wales therefore highlights more complex, lesser known, Welsh stories, which we feel has a direct impact on our local and global identity. How we’re perceived. A film like Three Identical Strangers or I am not a Witch for instance, perhaps rarely recognised as Welsh but they are created by Welsh storytellers. If these connections aren’t breaking through to audiences, we remain more broadly defined by Welsh stereotypes, heavily perpetuated on screen.
We have asked ourselves if Welsh audiences can recognise themselves on screen, does the world recognise Wales, or are we confined to Welsh stereotypes? Where is urban Wales on screen, where are the stories of Black Welsh communities?
Research in to a sample of 12 2019/20 Welsh films told us that out of 16 lead characters, just one Black male lead was credited. Out of all directors, writers, producers, there was only one Black or non-Black POC credited in lead production role.
We also have a national language but on average, only one Welsh language film releases each year. We believe Welsh language content can be enjoyed globally in cinemas and on demand alongside the very best foreign language content.
By telling these hidden stories, Made in Wales aims to change a narrative which has been dominated by white led organisations, creating greater presence for Black and Non-Black People of Colour.
Knowledge & Experience
We believe that affective national and regional screen communications can support skills development. By positioning Wales as a leader in the screen industries and sharing examples of stories from those who are working successfully in the industry, we can support creative pathways. This is particularly important for minoritised communities who have not seen themselves represented historically in Welsh screen stories. Made in Wales works to connect all elements of the chain and tell the stories of those working in different parts of the industry, not just production and development.
What professionals, press and partners said
“The support I’ve had from Wales in making and releasing my debut feature, from organisations, cinemas and audiences, has been both immense and essential. It’s an incredibly exciting time for Welsh creators and wonderful that Film Hub Wales are throwing a spotlight on us. I hope it will further highlight the creative potential bubbling in the country, and give Welsh audiences even more to enjoy and be proud of.” - Prano Bailey Bond, Director of Censor
‘‘Seeing the support Film Hub Wales were willing to offer us has made me want to keep pushing to make cinema specifically in Wales. They have proven that there IS an audience hungry for authentic Welsh voices and films’’ - Lewis Carter – Writer / Director, Fine Rolling Media
“If we were to be quite bold about telling our stories on this big, big, screen, we could start to build the kind of culture where it’s not unusual to see Welsh language film in cinemas..." Roger Williams, Writer of Gwledd