John Hurt calls for more truly Welsh films

Jonathan Stuart-Brown for Save The British Film Industry.

Please read the full report by  Clare Hutchinson, Western Mail  on this link.


We like the fact that John Hurt seems to be one of us. His office has kindly got in touch with Gisela Stuart MP and like Jonathan Gems (writer ‘1984’, ‘Mars Attack’, ‘Batman’, ‘White Mischief’) he seems  behind our campaign to expand sound stages around The UK to expand a genuine UK film industry which can give very many new voices and talent a chance even if far from Soho.

He claims that Wales risks losing its culture if it is not portrayed in films AND WE AGREE. John Hurt is the star of ‘Midnight Express’ which launched British director Alan Parker to A List status (‘Evita’, ‘The Commitments’, ‘Fame, Mississipi’s Burning’ followed). He also starred in Ridley Scott’s breakthrough ‘Alien’ and also ‘Gladiator’. He is perhaps best known for playing Caligula in I,Claudius on TV but has been magnificent in ‘ELEPHANT MAN’,  ‘SCANDAL’,  ‘NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR’,  ‘CHAMPIONS’,  ‘INDIANA JONES’ , ‘MAN FOR ALL SEASONS’, and in fact 100 movies, two Oscar nominations, three BAFTAS and a Golden Globe award..



In view of what follows it is ironic that in the Henry 8 and Thomas Moore movie MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, his character perjures himself in order to become  Attorney-General For Wales. 

“There is nothing going on in Wales’ struggling film industry, despite Cardiff being second only to London in terms of television and film production in the UK. Wales should have a fantastic film industry but there is nothing going on.

“Our industry is not Pinewood Studios – or Dragon Studios – these do not give us a film industry.” HERE WE DO NOT AGREE…it gives you half what you need.

 John Hurt continues: “I’m talking about our own industry.I’m not talking about social realism or anything like that, I just mean the culture in the UK, and especially Wales, is fantastically interesting and we need more films that reflect our society and the way in which we think and use our imagination.”  HERE WE ABSOLUTELY AGREE.

Hurt said: “ The Welsh Assemby Government is being pressed to give more financial incentives for film-makers to come here. All the industry needs is a government that is interested but does not shut people out if they are not Welsh.”

OK John…..

John Hurt’s office has kindly got in touch with Gisela Stuart MP and it would be fantastic if they also got in touch with SAVE THE BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY   http://www.savethebritishfilmindustry.com/contactus/      which is trying to get Pinewood Studios (Pinewood Shepperton PLC) to expand into every country in the UK and not Malaysia, Canada, China, and greenbelt land in Iver Heath where STOP PROJECT PINEWOOD resist them nobly.

If the studios, say 15 acres, are in every county in The UK, then the big Hollywood productions including 007 James Bond, Jason Bourne, Mission Impossible, Batman, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Sherlock Holmes etc can have access to all ideal British locations regardless of distance from the security, equipment, power supply electricty and IT of a nearby studio. At the same time building the Project Pinewood sets of Venice, Paris, Amsterdam, Lake Como, Rome, Chicago, New York, New Orleans, San Francisco and many others (hopefully including sci-fi sets, the Pyramids etc) around The UK will draw in film and TV production IN EVERY LANGUAGE. So for Portugese market Brazilian cop goes to North Wales to retrieve Brazilian criminal, loses him and must find him etc.  The volume of film and TV finance, employment opportunities, studios, sets and infrastructure will allow on quiet days the new film makers in every county in Wales and in every part of the UK to make outstanding films which tell their cultural stories in staggeringly high production quality.
You can have the very best of both worlds.
This applies to every county in the UK but for John Hurt we keep it on Wales. The Welsh Government, every local authority and The British Parliament need to realise the creative genius in Wales (which has a different flavour in different parts of Wales such as Cardiff, Ewloe, Aberdovey, Ffestiniog, Llangollen, Wrexham, Mold,Swansea, Harlech,)….repeat creative genius in Wales can make films and TV which sell internationally. Film and TV excellence is something the world still wants to buy from us. Plus it will increase tourism which again the world still wants to give its money to us to enjoy this service. This is how a wise Government invests and pay off our huge national debt. Film and TV excellence is also a magnet for other overseas investment in less exciting but huge employment.

We think what John Hurt means is something like THE FISH OUT OF WATER or ODD COUPLE set In Wales. It can be a comedy or more serious. But here goes.


In LA a gangster’s girlfriend sees her lover murder her father and gives evidence against him. His mob boss father vows revenge. The girl is too hot for the FBI Witness Relocation Scheme, so they move her to a Welsh speaking village or small town in North Wales. She has to pose as an English teacher or painter. She is first uncomfortable but then charmed by The Welsh culture. She becomes loved and trusted by the locals. The mob boss then finds out her location and send in the hitmen. The locals help fight them off. …..well we think this is what John Hurt means. If not, he can correct us.

We are grateful his office called Gisela Stuart MP and hope he supports us much more vocally among his peers and The Prime Minister.

Incidentally, patience is a virtue. Filming  finally began at the Welsh studios dubbed Valleywood – eight years after Sir Richard Attenborough unveiled ambitious plans for the complex. The UK Film Council betrayed the nation by not supporting  the new studio which is in administration and will not now be used for film making despite just needing a small amount of public money to get through until the film is released.

TRAGICALLY The Dragon International Studios, Llanilid, near Bridgend, had the cameras are rolling for a new movie, Ironclad, which brings one of the longest and bloodiest battles in English history – the great siege of Rochester Castle – to the big screen. Following the signing of the Magna Carta, King John gathered an army to reclaim his power over England and exert bloody revenge on those who defied him. Oscar-nominated Paul Giamatti, James Purefoy (HBO Rome Mark Anthony), Brian Cox (fabulous in costume drama), Mackenzie Crook, Jason Flemyng, Derek Jacobi…                                                                                    

Producer Rick Benattar said: “I never dreamt of making it in Wales, but we came over here, scouted locations, and had a great time.“It was everything we needed. I really hope our being here will bring more movies to Wales in the future.I’ve also been amazed by the amount of Welsh talent – skilled labourers, crew and actors. These guys will work through thick or thin, whereas in the States as soon as it rains everyone leaves for the day.It’s a dream really. A few people were initially concerned about the weather and said it could be an issue because it rains a lot in Wales, but the movie has a muddy, wet, brutal feel to it, so it fits perfectly.It’s basically about a bunch of rough guys, in rough times, in rough weather, doing rough things to each other.”

Well if The UK Film Council had put just a bit of public money in here to get it through until the film was released, we could have a 760 acre film studio in Wales or four times the size of both Pinewood and Shepperton studios combined. Instead it is in administration and will be houses. Wales was robbed by UKFC and a generation of Welsh talent. It could have been the most successful studio in The UK…but it would have rivalled West London, so UKFC fatcats celebrate its demise.

Jamie Foreman, ( Layer Cake), said it felt “incredible” to be filming in Wales surrounded by spectacular countryside.“The crew have built a fantastic set. It’s fantastic for Wales to host and support us.It feels good to be the first major thing to film at Dragon Studios and hopefully now people will see the benefits of it and follow our example.As for the film, it offers adventure, grit and action from a superb cast. It’s been brilliant to come here and meet all the other guys. The bond we’ve already got between us is great – we’re like the magnificent seven.”

Jason Flemyng, ( Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; and The League of Extraordinary Victorian Gentlemen) said: “I was in Anglesey for Clash of the Titans and it rained 38 out of 39 days. We’re filming in the perfect location in the middle of nowhere accompanied by fantastic studios – I can’t understand why it hasn’t been more popular with film producers.”

Actor Mackenzie Crook, best known for his roles in The Office and Pirates of the Caribbean, plays an archer in the film.

He said: “Wales is beautiful. The scenery and countryside is spectacular and it has a lot to offer, as does Dragon Studios. “The Welsh people are great, very professional, and it’s a privilege to work here.”

All true…what a shame UKFC decided not to give it the help it needed with our public taxes. Instead they spent it on their fatcat salaries and expenses and offices and five star hotels and first class travel.

See also: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/business-in-wales/business-news/2008/10/29/bbc-wales-looks-at-sites-for-a-new-hq-91466-22140081/

Perhaps the last word should go to Ironclad’s lead actor, Paul Giamatti.

“They’re lovely studios.

“It’s absolutely beautiful, it’s a wonderful place to have them.

Incidentally this was days from going out of business when he said this. It needed robust action UKFC action.  Naturally it did not get it.

Pinewood and Shepperton Studios needed robust action to stop its very existence being under the whim of property developer owners…action by UKFC….as we have often said: the old gags are the best !!

UKFC could have briefed The British Prime Minister, Business Minister, Culture Minister and Creative Arts Minister. As we said the old gags are the best. UKFC broke out the champagne as another threat to their cosy cartel failed to follow through.

On August 28 there is a march to save UKFC fat cat jobs. It is in London. It may have few marchers BUT it certainly would get very few in South Wales as a 760 acre potential mega-studio in the UK bit the dust ON THE BRINK OF SUCCESS. Cheers UKFC !











 Jonathan Stuart-Brown


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