FILM Hub Wales has released a report examining the performance of 14 key films with Welsh connections released in cinemas between March 2021 and March 2022.
The films, which range from Prano Bailey Bond’s Censor, to Lindsay Walker’s The Welshman, were selected as a sample from 20 known titles, reflecting a range of release strategies and sizes. All titles benefitted from the support of Film Hub Wales’ Made in Wales (MIW) strategy, which is funded by Creative Wales and the BFI. Welsh connections include where films were set or filmed in Wales or made by or featuring Welsh talent.
This unique report, which was written by distribution consultant Delphine Lievens, leads on from an equivalent study commissioned by Film Hub Wales in 2020. It outlines a range of key data including how Welsh films are funded, produced, marketed and distributed, along with a range of diversity statistics. The aim of the work is to create new benchmarks against which emerging trends in Welsh audience behaviour can be explored annually, enabling the screen industry to respond.
Film Hub Wales Manager, Hana Lewis explains: “We take inspiration from countries such as Sweden where they routinely publish data about the performance of their homegrown films and use this to inform future productions as well as distribution and sales strategies. There’s a lack of shared data about film in Wales and we believe by developing this work we can better understand how audiences respond to on-screen content and interrogate issues around equity, prioritising films that explore fair representation. It also enables us to understand how well Made in Wales is working as a scheme, so we can tailor our support and ensure Welsh stories reach audiences.”
The 14 titles reviewed for this report took £1.1million at UK and Ireland box office, with 13% of those admissions in Wales (an increase of 2% since 2020). Three quarters (77%) of the films exceeded the 3.15% average market share for 2021 Welsh box office. The report shows that smaller Welsh-set or Welsh story-based releases were popular with cinemas and their audiences in Wales. It highlights films such as The Welshman which had 100% of its screenings in Welsh cinemas; La Cha Cha, which took 99% of its box office from Welsh sites and The Toll, which made 83% of box office takings within Wales.
Director of The Welshman Lindsay Walker explains how important the support of Welsh cinemas and Made in Wales was to the release of the film: “It was so important that The Welshman screened at local cinemas, it was special! It brought communities together and gave a bigger sense of pride to our history in Wales. Having the film screened at independent cinemas during the pandemic allowed smaller cinemas to open and put audiences back into seats and Made in Wales helped us to achieve that. It’s amazing what film can do by bringing people together.”
One of the key findings of the report is that despite a growing commitment to equity and inclusion within the UK film industry, none of the 14 films analysed were directed, produced or written by Black or non-Black people of colour, which was a decrease from 4% in 2020. Although there was a 32% increase in women directors and 10% increase in women producers, none were filmmakers of colour. There was a 2% increase in lead credits for actors from non-white backgrounds (from 7% to 9.38%).
Ila Mehrotra, Director of upcoming feature Being Hijra (2023) documenting India’s first transgender modelling agency, explains why stories from diverse filmmakers are crucial for Wales: ‘‘When we are given the chance to tell our own stories, then tokenism becomes a thing of the past, but in order to get there the film industry needs to provide us with well-paid, creative opportunities that create long-term financial and creative stability in our lives. Only then will we see real change in front of and behind the camera’’.
Other key data included that there were no Welsh language features released during the period (a decrease from one film, Anorac, in 2020). It is anticipated that this will improve significantly over the coming years with the announcement of the new Sinema Cymru Development Fund.
Gerwyn Evans, Deputy Director, Creative Wales adds: “This type of research is so important as it helps to provide an accurate picture of the film sector in Wales and enables us to identify areas where we must do a better job of reflecting and representing our communities. While it is encouraging to see an increase in the representation of female directors in the screen industry in 2021/22, it is clear that there is a lot still to do to challenge the lack of diversity and inclusion across Film and TV. Creative Wales is committed to driving change in this arena through continued partnership working, financial support and supporting trainee schemes. Our mission is to tackle these issues head on and, in turn, create more opportunities for people from all backgrounds, at every stage of their career on screen.”
Films meeting wider inclusion criteria may have been funded between March 2020 and March 2021 but not released, and were therefore ineligible for analysis in this report. Film Hub Wales is committed to undertaking this research annually, subject to funding, and is working on a selection of titles with diverse talent, releasing in 2023.
Film Hub Wales’ MIW project offers year-round activities in partnership with Welsh exhibitors, including a film catalogue, which hosts over 700 shorts and features with Welsh connections. MIW is made possible thanks to direct support from Welsh Government via Creative Wales and the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN), awarding funds from the National Lottery. BFI FAN offers support to exhibitors across the whole of the UK, to boost cultural programming and engage diverse audiences. In Wales, activity is led by Film Hub Wales, managed by Chapter.
Audiences can keep up to date with news of the upcoming Welsh releases on the Made in Wales section of Film Hub Wales’ website or by following @Filmhubwales on social media.