The Creative Industries in Cardiff Capital Region – Giving Opportunity to Talent in all Communities

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The Creative Industries have grown to become a major part of the South Wales landscape – a home for world-class TV and Film productions from His Dark Materials to Sex Education, nurturing exciting talent across many different skillsets; and launching rewarding careers for people from all backgrounds. 

Tom Ware spent 15 years at the BBC and 10 years as an independent Executive Producer in Cardiff before becoming Director of Production & Performance at University of South Wales, where he has recently launched Film & TV School Wales, as well as overseeing USW’s Journalism, Performance & Music courses. Tom still produces the successful Channel 4 Daytime series Find It Fix It Flog It with Welsh independent production company Yeti Media – making him uniquely placed to give insights into the opportunities available to talent from all communities in this fast-growing sector…

“Our aim is provide a pathway for people in every community across the region” 

“Our aim is to provide a pathway into the Creative Industries for people who have the talent, wherever they are in the region. We have over 2700 students – including over 60% of all Screen Industry students currently studying in Wales. Our big focus is to provide access into the creative industries for everyone and it’s been a very encouraging four years since I came here, developing strong partnerships with Screen Alliance Wales, all our regional FE colleges and many different employers to make that happen.

“There are now many different ways that people can join the creative industries”

“To help to provide new progression routes into the Wales screen industries, we began by bringing together all of our screen courses – including Film, Television, Media, Visual Effects, Animation and everything else connected with it – under one brand called Film & TV School Wales. Having this new brand and building our partnership with SAW really helped us coordinate and add to the many routes already available for students to join us. For example, young people can now get a taste of working in Film while at school through the Screen Alliance schools outreach programme, then complete the relevant Level 3 qualification before choosing either  a two-year course at FE colleges such as those at Cardiff & Vale and the Gower with a further year at USW – or coming directly to us for a three-year undergraduate degree. And now we’re also offering a postgraduate MA in Film, for those who want to take their studies further.

“Discovering your strengths and weaknesses, collaborating with different types of people to become better.”

“Our mission is to give all our students the opportunity and courage to find out their strengths and weaknesses, to try, fail, then try again – and that includes working on placements which involve working on ‘real’ film productions. It’s an approach designed to build up a genuine confidence so that students who graduate with us feel genuinely “industry ready” – plus it helps us introduce students to entry level jobs through our many contacts with the major creative industries employers in the region. Those employers are sincere in wanting to bring through talent from everywhere – and like us, they want to make the Creative Industries in Wales a genuine meritocracy, where people can grow by what they do rather than who they know, and that no one has to leave Wales to build a successful career.

“Our students have had 17 Oscar and 15 BAFTA nominations – and we won the BAFTA for SFX on Dark Materials” 

“I think it’s fair to say that our approach is bearing fruit, with our students working on all the major drama productions that are being made in the region. In the past year alone we had 40 students working on Dark Materials – and over 20 in front of and behind the camera on Netflix’s Sex Education. Beyond that, in 2020 we had 17 alumni nominated for Oscars, 15 alumni nominated for BAFTAs – including a BAFTA for the Special Effects created by our graduates on Dark Materials. So there’s lots of really good stuff going on.

“There’s more opportunity than there’s ever been”

“I’ve been in Cardiff since 2008 and witnessed how the industry has grown hugely during that time. It’s probably now 10 times the size it was when I first arrived – and at one point in 2020 was actually the second busiest screen cluster in Europe. So there’s more opportunity than there ever has been. One of our roles is to help build the talent pipeline to supply what is now a world-class industry right on our doorstep. We can do that in many ways working closely with FE colleges and training providers, such as the brilliant Costume Course at Colege Y Cymoeds in Nantgarw, and the fantastic work being done by Sue Jeffries at SgilCymru. We’re passionate about spreading the word that we now have a critical creative mass in the region, and inviting people to simply find out more.

 I’d like to extend that invite right now – just come and see what we’re doing at the Atrium; and see what we have for you.”