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Montage image for Future of FHW
The Future of Film Hub Wales
13th February 2023.

Update from Manager, Hana Lewis.

I’m going to start with a thank you, to all of you that gave up your time to come to meetings and fill in consultation surveys in 2022, as the BFI shaped their Screen 2023 strategy. The fact that we all came together with the same goal of championing film exhibition in Wales, is something we’re personally very grateful for and we don’t underestimate the value of your time.

ChapterMany of you will have seen the recent announcement from the BFI that the BFI Film Audience Network will continue beyond April 2023 as part of their 10-year National Lottery Funding Strategy. I’m delighted to say that Film Hub Wales, with Chapter as the Hub Lead Organisation, is one of 11 UK-wide strategic partners to receive National Lottery Funding from the BFI to continue developing cinema audiences for UK independent and international film.

What does this mean for Wales? Film Hub Wales will receive an award of £895,500 over the three-year strategy (£286,900 annually). This award will be split across skills development, audience research, communications, a new ‘spotlight’ project and the film exhibition fund – which will re-launch in late March / early April. The training bursary fund and pitch pot will remain open year-round with renewed budget in April.

Based on what you told us during the consultation and the challenging landscape across exhibition, we are making some adjustments to our programmes. We’re planning on running quarterly programming sessions online to give us a chance to actually talk about the best new film releases. We’re also aiming to get together more, including an annual event where we can share ideas. We’re also talking to the National Screen and Sound Archive for Wales about access to Welsh content and exploring the costs of digitisation for key titles.

Being Hijra
Being Hijra

Our Made in Wales project which celebrates films with Welsh connections, is currently funded to March 31st 2023 and we are working on the future funding plan, with films such as Being Hijra and London Recruits in our calendar. We will also work with our partners at Ffilm Cymru Wales / BFI Network Cymru to champion new and emerging filmmakers across the UK.

We will collaborate with BFI Film Academy Plus, the newly named UK-wide in-venue education offer, which will help to connect 16- to 25-year-olds to film culture and career pathways. Also led by Chapter in Wales, funding will support masterclasses, screenings and bursaries. The scheme will help young film enthusiasts to learn about the industry, watch cultural cinema, get to know their local venues and develop skills as independent filmmakers and curators.

There will be additional new activities across the wider BFI Film Audience Network, which we’ll discuss with you in the coming weeks as those plans are established.

Finally, we are truly saddened that the FAN Inclusive Cinema (IC) project comes to an end in March. There is still so much work to be done but we are proud of our ambitions and the contributions that we have made. We extend our deepest thanks to IC’s partners and advisers. We wave goodbye to Toki Allison, our talented IC Project Manager, as she heads on to an exciting new role. You will be able to access some fantastic new resources in the final weeks of the project including Trans Loving Care and Working-Class Cinema. We will update you on how to access resources created across the life of the project in the coming months.

We hope you can join us for Hub Helo at Hay Castle on the 23rd March, where we’ll talk more about the year ahead.

Until then – long live cinema.

 

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IYMS 5
International Youth Media Summit 2022

Dion Wyn Hughes is the Projects and Marketing Manager for Wicked Wales. He recently attended the International Youth Media Summit (IYMS) in Falkenberg, Sweden.

IYMS is an annual two-week event that brings together young people from different cultures to create media projects aimed at inspiring their own generation to take action and responsibility for the future. By confronting and examining global problems and exploring solutions together, they are bound in a shared purpose. Working toward a common goal and being accountable for a concrete creative product within a limited time period provides the perfect “stew” for collaboration. Here’s what Dion told us about the trip:


Attending IYMS was an eye-opening experience that broadened my mind about what we can do in Wales. While the primary basis of the summit is to empower change through filmmaking, it also gives you opportunities to meet like-minded programmers, activists and filmmakers from all across the globe.

 

Throughout a fortnight, the challenge was to create a PSA (Public Service Announcement) over seven topics the IYMS wanted to eradicate in the world through diplomacy and film. They are youth empowerment, environment, violence, women’s rights, poverty, health and discrimination. Each group were split into young filmmakers, young diplomats and advisors who all worked together to create a short film about their subject matter with the help of their mentor who worked within the assigned fields. By the end of the summit, they would have a completed film that will be shared with international audiences at film festivals, on YouTube and through their partners, including UNESCO.

There are various ways to encourage and embrace heritage, language and culture, from Afghanistan to Nepal to Norway. Each day there were numerous opportunities to hear about different nations, how they promote their countries’ work, and the best models to exhibit the films. While many have expressed their frustrations about funding and sharing their voices globally, the summit allows you to develop and work on further collaborations beyond the two-week summit.

One of the main reasons Wicked Wales wanted to attend the summit was to engage with more young people. As they were the ones making the films and making positive changes in their communities, it was an enlightening experience. Hearing about the various programs they work on and their viewing habits benefited us as an organisation and for Wales as a whole. The diversity of delegates gave a fresh perspective on what works well for us and where we can improve and further diversity and inclusion in our sector.

The main takeaway from IYMS is the importance of international collaboration and working with organisations to improve our methods and share our own practices from Wales. We can learn so much from one another, and Wicked Wales has already begun a dialogue with partners in Sweden and Nepal on how we can collaborate further. Fortunately, through social media, we can now stay in touch with some of the great film societies we connected with and keep an eye on the ideas and programming that they’re doing. We hadn’t looked further afield until now, so I think this will benefit us when determining our own programme and events.

Attending IYMS was an eye-opening experience that broadened my mind about what we can do in Wales. While the primary basis of the summit is to empower change through filmmaking, it also gives you opportunities to meet like-minded programmers, activists and filmmakers from all across the globe. – Dion Wyn Hughes

Dion attended the International Youth Media Summit with the support of Film Hub Wales via our Bursary scheme. If you want to attend a meeting, course or event that would benefit your organisation and develop audiences but the costs are prohibitive, you can submit an application for support here.

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Screenshot 2021 03 28 At 20.27.24 (1)
Women’s History Month: Sara Sugarman

Biography

Sara Sugarman was born in Rhyl, Denbighshire, Wales. She is an actress and director, known for Sid and Nancy (1986), Very Annie Mary (2001), Disney‘s Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004) and Vinyl (2012). In 1994 she won a place at Bournemouth Film School, scripted and directed three short films, nominated for a BAFTA, BAFTA CYMRU and won twenty three International film festivals.

When was the first time you realised you wanted to make films?

I sent away for a super 8 kit from the classified section of my dad’s newspaper when I was 11. It was plastic. I still have the camera and it was so so exciting! I wanted to remake JAWS on Rhyl beach and this was the time I realised I could make my imagination have a place telling stories.

What was the last project you worked on / made?

Just finished shooting SAVE THE CINEMA for Sky cinema.

What are you up to now? What is the next project you’re working on?

I am editing the film now. I feel very lucky in a time of a pandemic to be making a movie.

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Female Film Makers Pauline
Women’s History Month: Pauline Williams

Biography

Producer, writer and former co-director of Gaucho production company. Producer of award winning feature films One Full Moon, Leaving Lenin and The Making of Maps. Multi BAFTA award winner as producer of numerous TV drama series & film. Mentor & producer of short film projects nurturing new directors & writers. Project manager for Off y Grid, a Film Hub Wales initiative. Currently producing short films in a pilot project between Wales and Nepal and developing a TV drama series for young people.

When was the first time you realised you wanted to make films?

As a child, cinema was a regular feature on a Saturday morning & over the years the more films I saw the more I fell in love with the big screen. However I always thought that working in films was an impossible dream for a girl from the sticks. After a brief mindset detour – when I thought I would become a surgeon- I realised that this was definitely not for me. Throughout adolescence, university & the early days of my career film has always fired my imagination & has transported me to other worlds & cultures.

What was the last project you worked on / made?

I wrote & produced a 3 part drama series for S4C, filmed in Wales & Majorca.

What are you up to now? What is the next project you’re working on?

Mentoring a filmmaking course for young people + waiting for venues to open to rekindle Off y Grid activities as a project manager/co-ordinator and producing a 6 part drama series for young people. Also I’m considering potential film projects. I have just accepted an invitation to produce/mentor 3 short films with young filmmakers from Wales as part of the International Youth Media Summit. This is a collaboration between Nepal & Wales. I’m also a producer/mentor on a forthcoming filmmaking course for young people in North Wales.

Useful links:

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Female Film Makers Claire Fowler
Women’s History Month: Claire Fowler

Biography

Claire Fowler is a writer-director from Wales who is based both in the US and UK. Her latest short, Salam, was the first Welsh short film to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, and was one of ten shorts selected for the Short Film Award at the BFI London Film Festival. It has since screened at more than one hundred festivals and won over ten awards including the BAFTA Cymru award for best short in 2020.

When was the first time you realised you wanted to make films?

I’ve always been attracted to the idea of filmmaking, and I’ve always loved narrative in the form of reading books, drawing, and watching films. But being from a small village in North Wales it didn’t really occur to me that directing was even an option for me– which sounds ridiculous when you consider that I studied Fine Art at University. I guess my naive teenage brain thought I could be a teacher and an artist, but never a director because only posh people did that- which just goes to show that representation matters. But at University I began to make little experimental films and I became completely absorbed in the process. There was this palpable magnetic pull towards filmmaking, but there was also a huge amount of resistance from me (and my family) in the form of very practical questions such as: How do I even begin to do this? Where will I find the money for each film? How can I make a living? But I had to give in to the gradual realisation that I would not be happy unless I pursued it. To be completely honest, it still feels very far away because I don’t yet make a full-time living from directing. Sometimes I manage to for months at a time, but right now I still need a back-up for the dry periods. What we do not talk about is the fact that most people who succeed in this business have independent wealth. To make even a short film a director has to not only raise the funds for the film itself, but also factor in lost earnings for all of the days spent casting, in prepro, on-set and then in post.  If you don’t have all of the resources on hand, you still have to pay rent and bills, eat and travel and maintain other employment. It’s a real juggling act when you’re not wealthy and no one is ever going to give you extra credit for that. 

What was the last project you worked on / made?

The last project I worked on as director was actually as a director-for-hire and it was unfortunately not an enjoyable experience. The writers were great, the scripts had a lot of potential and the cast and crew were lovely, but it was low budget, corners were cut, and certain directorial decisions were taken out of my hands by the producers. It only served to weaken the end result and make the process painful. A director’s job is to bring their vision to a project. One person takes on that responsibility because design by committee is disastrous. A director-for-hire has the additional responsibility of pleasing various people– execs, writers, producers. In this situation, there is a process that should be followed to ensure that everyone is happy– for example, casting and other creative decisions (such as hiring key crew) should be made in consultation, there should be in-depth concept and tone meetings for every episode, a post-production schedule, time set aside for a director’s cut. It should be a collaboration, but one that supports the director as the creative helmer of the project. This job did not follow the usual professional process, and it did not respect my role as director. Compromise is always possible when there is respect present in a relationship, but if someone insists on imposing their vision over the director’s, then there is going to be discord on-screen and off.

What are you up to now? What is the next project you’re working on?

I am developing a feature script with BBC Films and Sorcha Bacon of Try Hard productions. It has taken pretty much the whole of the pandemic to get the contract to a place where we are all happy, but I am really excited to be working with Sorcha, and Claudia and Eva of the BBC.

Useful links:

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Female Film Makers Alice
Women’s History Month: Alice Lusher

Biography

With over 20 years industry experience Alice has worked alongside some of the UK’s leading indies – joining Cardiff based, BFI vision awarded ie ie productions in 2012 as part the team behind the pioneering, award winning multi-platform project ‘American Interior’. In 2015 she launched ie ie’s drama department – building on the company’s international reputation for creating ground-breaking, cross-platform content and expanding their diverse slate of productions. Inspired by creatives working across disciplines, she collaborates with writers and directors to tell stories from under-represented voices and find sustainable ways to realise their vision – whilst making commercially viable film and television for global audiences.

Her award-winning shorts have screened internationally and in 2018/19 she produced Welsh broadcaster S4C’s first short form, bilingual drama series Merched Parchus (Respectable Girls) – which has received multiple award nominations including; RTS Cymru, Bafta Cymru, Celtic Media and Broadcast Digital. The series is being sold internationally by Videoplugger. 

She then co-wrote and produced multi-disciplinary artist and filmmaker Tina Pasotra’s debut narrative short I Choose – released on the BBC in September 2020.

Alice is currently in post-production on her first co-production – Andrew Legge’s debut feature L.O.L.A; alongside ie ie’s MD Catryn Ramasut and Cowtown Pictures’ producers John Wallace and Alan Maher. She’s also exec producing a short documentary with emerging filmmaker Siôn Marshall Walters. 

Alice was a 2017/18 participant on Birds Eye View Filmonomics – which ‘Advocates and educates the female perspective in film through “Action!” – not words’ – and was mentored by Katherine Biddle of See Saw Films through BFI.NETWORK x BAFTA crew 2018/19. In 2019 she was selected for BFI.network@lff international filmmakers, in 2020 for BFI Insight Producers Scheme and in 2021 for Rotterdam Producers Lab and LIM (Less is More) Development Lab. 

When was the first time you realised you wanted to make films?

Hmm, I have no idea to be honest! I grew up in rural mid Wales without a TV though, so I guess I was always intrigued to find out about something I didn’t have any tangible experience of. My sisters and I used to make our own wildlife programmes by drawing on lining paper and feeding it through slits on the sides of a cardboard box! I also remember listening to Neighbours through the fuzzy white noise of an old tv set rigged up in the garden! But I think it was probably when I moved to London as a student that I really started thinking about working in film and tv – although it still felt a million miles away from becoming a reality, until I got a part time job as a runner at a production company when I was in my final year and it all fell into place from there!

What was the last project you worked on / made?

The last thing released was a short film called I Choose directed by Cardiff based multi-disciplinary artist and filmmaker Tina Pasotra; which we made through the Beacons scheme (currently available on BBC iplayer). We’re also currently in post-production on our first narrative feature – L.O.L.A by writer/director Andrew Legge which we’re co-producing with Cowtown Pictures in Ireland.

What are you up to now? What is the next project you’re working on?

Alongside L.O.L.A we have been really busy in development during the pandemic. I’ve also been lucky enough to have been selected for some fantastic labs, so have felt a bit like I’m back at school from my living room! We have a number of tv drama series’, two YA live action features – one of which we’re running industry workshops with LGBTQ+ young people alongside, and an animated family feature in development – all of which I’m really excited about – so fingers crossed one of those will be the next out of the starting blocks!

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Female Film Makers Claire S
Women’s History Month: Clare Sturges

Biography

Clare Sturges is a writer and director based in Cardiff, Wales. She recently wrote and directed BAFTA Cymru-nominated narrative short THE ARBORIST through the BFI Network, which premiered on BBC Two and is currently available on BBC iPlayer.

Clare’s short documentary MY BRIEF ETERNITY won the BAFTA Cymru Short Film Award in 2016. The film was nominated for Best Short Doc at London Short Film Festival 2016, longlisted for a British Independent Film Award in the same year and the EE BAFTA for British Short Film in 2017. Clare won the BAFTA Cymru Breakthrough Award for her documentary SEXWORK, LOVE & MR RIGHT in 2015, which was acquired for broadcast by ABC Australia.

Since 2017, Clare has been shadowing director Euros Lyn – on Channel4 mini-series KIRI, Jack Thorne’s BBC adaptation of HIS DARK MATERIALS and Film4/Raw feature DREAM HORSE. She has also shadowed series DP Adriano Goldman on the Aberfan episode of Netflix’s THE CROWN (S3), and director Phil John on Sky’s LUCKY MAN (S3). 

In 2020, Clare was awarded bursaries from Ffilm Cymru Wales and the Welsh Broadcasting Trust to support her development as a director of scripted work.

When was the first time you realised you wanted to make films?

I was 30 years old, recently made redundant from a desk job I hated, and freelancing as an advertising copywriter. One of my agencies asked me to write an AV script for a corporate client. I wasn’t sure what an AV script was and had to look it up. Then they asked me what the meta-narrative was and again I scurried off to Google to find out. A whole new world of visual storytelling opened up to me and I was hooked from then on.

What was the last project you worked on / made?

I wrote and directed narrative short The Arborist through the BFI Network scheme, via Ffilm Cymru Wales / BBC Wales. It’s a deeply personal film – a drama about grief and loss and the power of objects, places, people and memories to connect us to those we’ve lost.

What are you up to now? What is the next project you’re working on?

I’ve recently signed with United Agents and we’re working together to progress my career to the next level… having ‘generals’ with producers and execs, applying for career development opportunities and being put forward for jobs. It’s all about landing upon a lucky opportunity to break through into drama directing, while developing my own projects alongside. I’m currently writing my first feature film: a ghost story set in the Highlands of Scotland. And I’m developing a documentary series and a factual drama – both of which explore the ripple effects of homicide.

Useful links:

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Why Naomi Bennett Launched Lesflicks, A Film Streaming Platform For Queer Women

This week, Forbes interviewed Naomi Bennet of Lesflicks about why she launched a film streaming platform for Queer Women. 

Read the full interview

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Rachel Dax Montage
An Interview with Rachel Dax

‘Made in Wales‘ is a strategy developed by Film Hub Wales supporting the promotion and exhibition of films with Welsh connections. A film doesn’t necessarily have to be made in Wales, but might have a Welsh director, writer or storyline. This month we’re celebrating LGBTQ+ history with a focus on Lesbian filmmakers and interviewing Cardiff based writer / director Rachel Dax. 

Half way into Time and Again –  the latest short film by filmmaker Rachel Dax – ‘Eleanor’- played by Sian Phillips – and ‘Isabelle’ – played by Brigit Forsyth – come face to face decades after a painful betrayal. Amid their heated discussion Eleanor matter-of-factly declares that, despite the lingering heart-break, she’s actually had a ‘‘wonderful life’’…a partner…and makes it clear that she resents Isabelle’s assumption that she’d been ‘pining (over her) like some sad dyke in a warning novel’’.

It is a moment set up to challenge us, much like it challenges Isabelle. The camera barely shifts its gaze from the two of them, frozen in a moment that has been trying to catch up with them for decades. It is rare to see older, lesbian women on screen and even rarer for them to stand their ground, to state that their lives have been fulfilling – that they’ve lived. On screen, the gentle everyday, the plain white walls of their country nursing home and the almost mundane are carefully juxtaposed with this sense of restlessness…a deep desire to get up, to go, to move on and to just…be. 

 ‘‘I think…the kind of phrase my friend uses is, ‘‘use the s**t as fertilizer’’, says Rachel who, it seems, has been preparing to write moments like the one above her whole life.

‘‘…I was quite religious when I was a teenager and I got involved with born again, Christianity…I decided that I wanted to be a preacher. So I went off to university to do theology and philosophy, a very academic degree. But at the same time I knew I was gay. So I was in this kind of very difficult state…religion, sexuality… constantly embattled in myself and eventually the sexuality – because I am a lesbian –  just completely overtook everything. I didn’t quite ever get to the point of being an atheist, but I rejected that very extreme religion I was involved with”.

After graduating, she became a secondary school Religious Education teacher… 

‘‘…And I hated it. I just got to the point thinking I really can’t do this anymore. One of my partner’s best friends moved to Cardiff, and we went to visit a few times and thought…there seems to be lots going on here. I was meeting lots of artistic people and I’d always wanted to be an actor. And I thought maybe this is an opportunity to do something new”.

And within just a few months, fate struck – she started doing acting courses, writing courses and eventually went back to university to do drama, where she ended up taking on a film writing module ‘‘for a laugh”.

‘‘As soon as I started doing that, I realised I didn’t want to be an actor at all. I wanted to be a writer director. So suddenly I was taking every option I could in film…which took me by surprise, but it’s actually become my greatest passion of all”.

Rachel is also an all round creative with several anthologies and audio stories to her name, not to mention that she never really gave up on teaching having continued onto a successful career in Higher Education. She still maintains a close relationship with parts of that initial journey, teaching at the University of South Wales and now Cardiff University.

They have continued to support me as a creative person, as well as bring me in to do teaching. They’ve given me work, they’ve given access to equipment. I’ve been given a lot of opportunities to teach what I want in terms of creative writing and short filmmaking, but they also tweet about what I’m doing and promote me. I’ve been very lucky to have that.

I tell her that at the end of Time and Again,  ‘‘I – almost ironically – scrawled down the words ‘A delicate love for oneself, becomes a delicate love for others with fury!’  I was eager not to forget this thought. It is a small something that came up again and again the evening before, as I hunched over the computer to re-watch each of the short films on her website after dinner. 

I want more, but later – expanding on something she mentioned lightly in our email exchange – she said that simply wasn’t possible.

‘‘I lost my YouTube channel…it was devastating because I was really successful…millions of hits overall…I think it got shut down because of homophobia. After Trump came into power, unbeknownst to me YouTube changed its terms and conditions about how you can advertise and what you have on there. Gay content started to become marginalised and I didn’t know any of that at the time. I put up my film ‘A Delicate Love’ – it got something like 10,000 hits in a week. I was advertising it on Twitter and on one of my tweets I put hashtag gay sex. I think YouTube decided that violated their terms and conditions for advertising or…and I don’t know for sure… somebody homophobic might have hacked my account… because I would get the same email… We’d like to inform you that due to repeated or severe violations of our Community Guidelines your YouTube account has been suspended…After review we determined that activity in your account violated our Community Guidelines….Every time I appealed, I just got this email back. So I uploaded my best films to Vimeo instead’’.

Luckily, she clarifies, she does have copies of her earlier films on a hard-drive, but didn’t have the chance to dig them out before our meeting. She assures me that I’ll get a chance to watch them at a later date.

In contrast, Time and Again has been on BBC iPlayer for over a year (available until Sunday 28th February):

‘‘…which is unheard of for a short!’’ exclaims Rachel. ‘‘It’s been broadcast twice on BBC two at nine o’clock, which is a really, really good slot…quite often, the gay films are shown very late at night, maybe about 11 o’clock and they’re on for 28 days maximum…sometimes only for a week and then they disappear off. So I’ve been very well-supported by the BBC’’.

Art imitates life, and although none of her films speak directly to the issue of being censored, the act of self censoring and holding back..and being censored by others is something we are often too familiar with having to do as queer people.

In Caravan Sight, Richard and Georgina are two prominent London lawyers who spend their weekends in Wales, swapping gender roles unbeknownst to any of their friends. For two days at the end of the every week, their hectic, high pressure lives are given a small release where they can be a little bit more of themselves. Things became tense when their homophobic boss happens to be holidaying at the same campsite, but throughout the entire film we see that learning to love our queerness makes us softer, and in turn creates more room for that love to spill over and nurture others, and our relationships with them. 

 

…it’s not only about learning to love yourself as a person…yes that own inner journey of learning self-respect and self-affirmation…but also what I try and do with all of my films is kind of very subtly teach people about LGBTQ+ issues and also homophobia. I make LGBTQ+ audience, but I always think, what would I want my homophobic next door neighbor to get from this film? Can I teach them about acceptance of LGBTQ+people? So yeah, I’ve always kind of got an eye on how I can influence the larger narrative because I think there’s a level of responsibility to be presenting LGBTQ+ people as normal everyday people…

Homophobia is – evidently – not something that can be ‘resolved’ by loving yourself, but each story in its distinctiveness does bring us back to the same feeling that ‘‘a delicate love for oneself, becomes a delicate love for others’’. And whilst this isn’t always Rachel’s first intention, she really is adept at bringing the weight of all these different feelings to screen.

No where is clearer for me than in the film ‘A Delicate Love’, where Peter – a Maths student who works part-time in a Deli – fantasises about an older man and customer, but struggles deeply with coming out. This battle even leads him to force feelings for his long-time female friend, but e

nds in a seething inner rage that is difficult to shift, disheartening to watch and something that many of us may relate too. There is, however, a small but triumphant ending…Peter is out running and falls…injured he is offered a helping hand by another man – his colleague – the person who’s always been in his shadow, a delicate metaphor come true thanks to the cinematography of Jon Ratigan. 

Threads will be mended.

She retains an incredibly positive attitude, having done exceptionally well on the international film festival circuit where she has won multiple awards. Those who get to know her stories are instantly and intimately connected to them for many different reasons, but particularly – as Rachel would say – how ‘ordinary’ her characters’ lives are. 

‘‘…Most of us are actually quite sweet people who fall in love and, and we go to work and we pay our taxes and do our washing. In my own journey with my parents, because of their age…and my mum being quite religious…she realised at some point I’m really boring like her, you know? I do actually wash up and go to work… I have a normal life. I do my laundry, I think about the things that she thinks about in a day too and realising that I live a very similar life with my partner, to the one she lives with my dad suddenly made her realise that actually it really is just a question of love and of course sexual attraction, but it’s about…I love this person and we have chosen to live together, but we don’t live that differently from the way they do’’.

This – fittingly – leads us to a small anecdote about a film she once made at University.

‘‘…it was kind of a documentary. We were told to make a film on the most hideous possible task we had in our life. And so I actually took this literally, and I basically did a film about picking up the dog poo in my garden. I don’t think they enjoyed the fact that I  did that but I told the truth. There were giant turds all over the screen and that the staff were like, this is the most disgusting thing. And.. I’m like… you asked me to make a film about my worst, worst job. So yeah…’’

I am humbled when she reveals that this was her first film. Rachel has literally been using ‘the s**t as fertiliser’ since she began making films. When the interview is over, I remind myself to do more of the same.

If you’re an exhibitor and would like to find out more about programming any of the films mentioned in this interview, you can find the links at the bottom of this page. You can check out more of Rachel’s short films on her website here.

If you’re a filmmaker or distributor and would like to know more about how Film Hub Wales can support the exhibition of your film, take a look at our website here.

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Off Y Grid Screening Of Gwen
Into Film’s “Cinema’s That Made Me”: Pauline Williams From Off Y Grid, North Wales

With many cinemas still closed due to COVID-19, we’re continuing to celebrate independent venues and exhibitors across the UK in our series Cinemas that Made Me. Below we spotlight Pauline Williams from Off y Grid (Off the Grid), a multi-venue cinema project supported by Film Hub Wales, that aims to reduce isolation and increase engagement with British and independent film.

The Off y Grid project connects a collection of venues across North Wales, catering to rural audiences and celebrating a sense of place and heritage. They provide seasonal programming, with the venues working together to attract audiences. Project Manager Pauline Williams explains how this great collaborative effort benefits audiences and venues across North Wales, and reminisces about the early cinema experiences that continue to inspire her work today.

What does Off y Grid offer audiences?

More people. More films. More spaces. That’s the aim of the Off y Grid (OYG) project. OYG coordinates a unique partnership between seven venues in North Wales that work together in order to promote independent films, British and world films to audiences in rural areas. OYG also offers an array of classic films as well as celebrating Wales’ heritage through film archives.

The seven centres – CellB, Galeri, Pontio, Neuadd Dwyfor, Neuadd Ogwen, Tape Community Music & Film and Theatr y Ddraig – offer different experiences in terms of their location and spaces but share the same mindset with Welsh language culture, heritage and accessibility being central to the provision. By collaborating, we can offer more challenging films to a wider audience. By sharing ideas, we can create new cinematic experiences in the area.

Funded by Film Hub Wales, the project increases activities across North Wales in areas that often suffer from a lack of funding and a lack of artistic events. Our events forge links with the community and offer an artistic provision, encouraging and broadening horizons through film. As well as showing films we offer extra activities (like Q&A sessions) and we coordinate with film festivals and cinematic events in Wales and beyond.

We collaborate with many regular partners, but we are also ready to broaden our horizons with new partners in order to promote films. Recently we have been arranging a pop-up cinema to local communities with the aim of expanding our provision in this field as well as continuing to develop an audience of all ages in the area.

What was your first job in the film industry, and how did you end up managing the Off y Grid project?

After starting my career at the BBC in Cardiff and being trained to work on drama and television series, I moved on to work freelance before joining Gaucho as a producer and collaborating with the director Endaf Emlyn. The production company was a key contributor in the Welsh film industry, and I was responsible for the production of such successful films as Un Nos Ola, Gadael Lenin, and Y Mapiwr as well as individual dramas and series for television.

It’s my love for film and the urge to share that enthusiasm that drives my energy on the OYG project.

Did film and the cinema have an important impact on you earlier in life?

As a child, attending the weekly film club on Saturday mornings at the Majestic in Caernarfon was a magical experience. There was nothing better than waiting in the auditorium for the lights to go down slowly and the curtain to be fully opened to reveal a giant screen. Being in that darkness feeling as if in another world was such a memorable experience. I remember going with my mother to see Summer Holiday and the colours blinding my eyes. But more than that was the feeling that was stirred inside me by such powerful films.

Later I would regularly go the Coliseum in Porthmadog and Forum in Blaenau Ffestiniog (unfortunately none of these cinemas exist now). Nothing can compare to being partly in darkness and being whisked away to another world. There are no limits to the imagination. Cinema’s influence on my early years was most definitely key to my career choices.

How have those venues affected how you work today?

The experiences I had watching films on the big screen and losing myself in another world in local, community cinemas inspires me to offer similar experiences to today’s audiences. Going to the cinema was a regular, affordable experience and the programming was varied in such a way that meant that audiences could enjoy all types of films, and all on their doorstep.

Watching a movie on the big screen is a magical, enchanting experience. Being part of an audience that experiences a common emotion is an inclusive, mystical feeling. A film can make us marvel. It offers a key to other worlds. It evokes emotions. It is inclusive and transformative.

While Off y Grid venues have been closed due to COVID-19, have you begun any new initiatives to reach audiences at home?

CellB have been working assiduously to maintain and promote Gwallgofiaid (a not-for-profit that provides training for young people) by arranging online sessions with Rhys Ifans as a mentor for a short film making project.

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Savoy Theatre, Monmouth
Into Film’s ‘Cinemas That Made Me’: Chris Ryde From Monmouth’s Savoy Theatre
With cinemas closed due to COVID-19, Into Film are celebrating venues and cinema operators across the UK in a new series, Cinemas that Made Me. Here they pay tribute to a Film Hub Wales member, The Savoy Theatre in Monmouth, Wales, and its Director and General Manager Chris Ryde.

The Savoy has a long and fascinating history. It is one of the oldest working theatres in Wales, and is located on the oldest known theatre site in the country. Today it’s a mixed-arts venue, programming films and event cinema alongside live music, comedy and more. Director and General Manager Chris Ryde has been working at the Savoy Theatre in various roles since 2009, and brings a wealth of industry experience with him. Here, he offers some insight into the venue’s significance to South Wales as both a nostalgic link to the past and a much-loved present-day destination that has adapted to many challenges in order to survive. Long may it continue!

What does the Savoy Theatre mean to its local community?

For many, it represents a link to their past and recalls either their movie-going heritage or a link to places they were brought up. It’s a place where films were meant to be seen. It is not a box or a multiplex; it is a purpose-built venue in which films are meant to be enjoyed. Our Art Deco design motif brings back the feel of movie-going in its heyday and gives a holistic experience to customers, as they can read all about the building and put their visit into context. It is a constant joy to see the look on people’s faces as they enter the auditorium from the street and realise they have walked into a piece of history.

Where did your own history with cinema begin? 

I am delighted to say that the cinema that shaped my life is still going. The Ritz in Belper, Derbyshire, which I visited for the first time in 1957, and is still in operation thanks to a husband-and-wife team (the Mundins) who bought it, restored it, and made it operational. I visited them two years ago and it was a magical experience to go back.

What was your first job working with film?

My first job in the film industry was as a trainee producer in the 1970s. I worked with Nic Roeg, Adrian Lyne, and Ridley and Tony Scott. From 1977-2012 I worked for Equity, the union for performers and creative practitioners, which brought me into contact with plenty of filmmakers, and I spent many an hour on film sets.

What initiatives are you most proud of having worked on at the Savoy Theatre?

The most successful by far was re-introducing live entertainment, because it has been a massive success, and is what people most celebrate. Second to that was getting the funds secured for digital exhibition back in 2013. We had no money and there was a real prospect that we would not be able to survive as a first-run cinema, but we got there.

While cinemas are closed due to the COVID-19 lockdown, have you begun any new initiatives to reach audiences at home?

The lockdown has had a big impact on our team, with almost all of our staff furloughed. Sadly this means we do not have the capacity to start any new projects right now, but we are keeping in touch with our audiences through newsletters and social media. We’re running a fundraiser to help the Savoy Theatre through this difficult time, and still welcoming supporters to our Friends of the Savoy scheme.

Once cinemas can reopen which film would be your first choice to see on the big screen?

The film that most exemplifies the spirit of the Savoy: The Smallest Show on Earth with Peter Sellers and Margaret Rutherford, made in 1957. I’d love to play it here.

If you’re a fan of the Savoy Theatre and would like to support them at this difficult time, you can donate to Chris’s fundraiser, Savoy Survival. If you’d like to support other independent cinemas in the UK, consider donating to the UK Cinema Fund. These donations will be added to the BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund and used to offer critical relief and business continuity to exhibitors across the UK.

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Montage
Meet the people behind Welsh cinemas during lockdown

Film Hub Wales (FHW) has awarded National Lottery funding totalling £100,000 to 16 Welsh independent cinemas and film festivals that have been severely impacted by Covid-19. Forced to close their doors at the start of UK lockdown, these venues will potentially be some of the last organisations able to reopen as the pandemic eases.

Read the full press release here.

Meet the dedicated people working behind the scenes of local cinemas and festivals, who are striving to bring communities back together through film:

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