An employee-owned television company has struck a deal to launch an innovative training program for its staff and freelancers with the “best film school in the world”.
Caernarfon-based Cwmni Da has signed a three-year deal with the National Film and Television School’s (NFTS) recently established Cardiff centre, NFTS Cymru Wales, to boost the skills of its team.
The company has always invested heavily in training, but what’s new is that now tutors travel to Caernarfon instead of the other way around, with previous courses taking place in places like Cardiff, London, Liverpool and Birmingham.
The result is that it reduces costs and staff time, which means they can run more courses and train even more people.
It’s now just over two years since Cwmni Da made broadcasting history by becoming an employee-owned trust that employs over 50 people and injects £5million a year into the local economy.
Then-general manager Dylan Huws sold his shares to the trust so the workers could take over running the company as mini-John Lewis.
Cwmni Da was founded in 1996 and has a long and successful track record of producing factual, entertainment, drama and children’s programming in Welsh for S4C but also for UK network channels and international markets.
The company’s production includes some of S4C’s biggest hits like Fferm Ffactor, Noson Lawen, Deian a Loli and FFIT Cymru while the big budget series, Llanw (Tide), in partnership with fellow Celtic and LIC broadcasters, the largest independent television production company in China, has been sold to 50 different countries around the world.
The deal with NFTS Cymru Wales was brokered by current Cwmni Da chief executive Llion Iwan, who is also a Skillset UK board member.
Training includes courses in technical, production and business skills as well as research and interview techniques and the presentation of ideas.
Classes are taught by some of the best practitioners in the industry, many of whom are award winners in their own area of expertise.
Llion Iwan said: “One complaint across the industry is that budgets are so small, schedules are crushed and the only thing that suffers is training time.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to partner with NFTS, which is still the only UK film school to feature on The Hollywood Reporter’s list of top international film schools and has been described in the Observer newspaper as the ‘best film school in cinema in the world”.
“We can also choose which courses to run and, importantly, the dates to run them, which gives us more control, reduces staff time consumption and reduces costs, allowing us to invest even more in the training.
“What we do is create a virtuous circle. By improving the skills of our associates, they will personally benefit from professional development while improving the quality of our programs.
“This will in turn benefit Cwmni Da and make our production even more attractive to broadcasters.
“As we are an employee-owned company, staff will reap the rewards of Cwmni Da’s success.”
Judith Winnan, Head of NFTS Cymru Wales, added: “NFTS Cymru Wales is perfectly positioned to deliver training to forward-looking companies such as Cwmni Da and we are delighted to work with them to support their staff across the range of skills required. for future success and growth.
“The National Film and Television School is recognized worldwide for the quality of education it provides to the industry and from our base in Cardiff we can now bring that same standard of excellence to independents and businesses across the Wales.”
The tutor for the last course on directing and camera work was the distinguished. BAFTA award-winning documentary maker Nick O’Dwyer, who has made programs for BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV and Channel 4.
Catrin Jones, 26, was on her first day at Cwmni Da as a trainee cameraman and was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from an “industry legend” like Nick.
She said, “This opportunity is amazing, especially on day one, because I’m being taught by one of the best in the business. This is the perfect course for me. It’s very inspiring.
Researcher Brengain Fflur Jones, 24, was equally thrilled.
She said: “My ambition is to be a director so this course is definitely a step in the right direction. It will also help me build my confidence in different aspects of the job.
“I learned a lot of new skills today, but one thing that stands out is how you have to treat others. If you want someone to do it right, you have to treat them right.
Also on the course was Sion Bailey Hughes, an experienced sound and camera operator who has been on staff since 2014.
He said: “I think learning all aspects of the industry and although I have a few years of experience under my belt, it’s extremely important to keep learning.
“It definitely makes you think about the industry in a different way and I learned so much in such a short time.
“For me, I thought I knew everything he had to say after working 20 years in the industry, but it’s good to be able to learn from someone new and think things in a different way. different way.”
Lowri Wynn, 31, said, “I do a bit of everything, a bit of camera, a bit of directing, a bit of writing, and Cwmni Da is such a great place to learn a bit of everything.
“This course was brilliant. It’s great to be able to learn more about the skill set without the pressure of doing it while working.
“Nick is brilliant and obviously knows a lot about the industry. He’s done a wide range of different documentaries, so we get insight into a lot of different things and different genres.
“To be taught by someone with such a brilliant track record is fantastic. I learned a lot.
For half a century, the National Film and Television School (NFTS) has nurtured some of Britain’s and the world’s finest creative talent. The school is internationally recognized as a model of excellence in specialist higher education and is one of the world’s leading film, television and games institutions with centers in Wales, Leeds and Scotland.
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