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THE HERALD FRIDAY OCTOBER 7 2016


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Baſta Cymru ‘Career Clever’ session BAFTA CYMRU held a


terrifically beneficial career session for all wannabe writers in need of advice and even gave the opportunity to meet one of Wales’ leading industry figures. ‘Career Clever: Writing for the


Screen’ was held at Aberystwyth University Department for Theatre Film and Television Studies on Friday, September 16, and was an hour of sheer interest. A career session is always appealing


if you are stuck in a rut and you want to have tips on how to get what you want out of life. So, to sit in the same room as Fflur Dafydd, a well-known novelist, singer/songwriter and screenwriter (of the recent ‘The Library Suicides’ film amongst many other things) was an absolute privilege and a perfect figure in the creative industry to share thoughts with.


Supported by BFI Net: Work and


Ffilm Cymru Wales, the event was hosted by BAFTA Cymru Director Hannah Raybould. In a whole hour of informal


discussion, the session carefully allowed Fflur to tell those who attended of her career to date. The session also allowed Hannah Raybould to tie in questions surrounding clips from the making of Fflur’s recent film, ‘The Library Suicides’, and a clip of Fflur’s scriptwriting work for S4C’s ‘Parch’. The panel session allowed Fflur


to talk about her career from the very beginning, where she stated that ‘doing anything creative when I was younger alongside academia felt like a treat’, adding that she met Euros Lyn while studying at Bangor University. To this, she added that she ‘was


lucky to know Lyn before he went onto give us many programmes such as ‘Torchwood’ and ‘Broadchurch’. The session included a brief viewing


of Fflur’s creation of ‘Parch’, where Fflur answered a series of questions about the series. Fflur mentioned that, after many tries


of scriptwriting, she wrote a synopsis on ‘Parch’ and the studio were really keen and that after writing two full episodes, the programme was commissioned. “Then the stress started,” she said. Explaining how she created the


characters in Parch and incorporated personal aspects into a character, Fflur stated: “The female character in ‘Parch’ is very personal to me as she is a mother and a multitasker but, as a vicar, she couldn’t be any further away from me.’ Fflur then went on to add: “Throwing


little additives into a character gives a sense of flavour and gives a certain dynamic.” When asked about ‘The Library


Suicides’ and how much it has changed since it transformed onto the screen, Fflur explained that she wrote the novel for two years on her own and that it was important for the film to perceive Aberystwyth as it is now, rather than in the future tense. She also added that, in the book, the


character of Eben was comical but in the film he is much darker.


Fflur also added that even though the


twins are more emotional in the book, the character of Dan stayed in tact from the novel. Reassuring budding industry


professionals by giving them tips for a career in writing, Fflur stated: “It’s important to have each other’s backs during production as it is difficult for a writer to work alone. It’s important to remember that you will be working with a team and it is also great to have someone to bounce ideas off.” Fflur also added: “Don’t be too


precious with your own work, as sometimes you have to let things go. You will eventually learn to deal with rejections and from that, you will gain thicker skin to deal with criticism. “The more mediums you feed into,


the more you are able to write, so make the most of all the feedback you can get. Stay true to yourself, and always keep persevering.” After the session, Fflur talked to The


Herald on how beneficial she found the session and explained in greater detail about her novel turned film, ‘The Library Suicides’: “I definitely found the Career Session beneficial and I think it’s really great for writers to get out and engage with their audience and their viewers. It’s also great to get a sense of what people are enjoying and what’s popular amongst audiences, as that can feed into what a writer is doing and help them develop alongside that. “I got approached by BAFTA


Cymru to take part in this ‘Career Clever’ session because we’ve got the screening of ‘The Library Suicides’ on in Aberystwyth at the moment, and they thought it would be a great time for me to come back here and to talk about my work. “It’s great being back in the Theatre,


Film and Television Studies Department here at Aberystwyth University because I was a student here and I also taught Screenwriting classes here about 10 years ago. So, it’s great to get to come back.


“Having ‘The Library Suicides’


transform into a film was a dream come true, and it’s just fantastic to come back to your old university and to have a film out that is actually based in the same place - very influential indeed. Fflur then went on to say: “When I


was a student here at Aberystwyth, it felt like a very unique place as it was away from the rest of the world. But then, at the same time, it was the whole of the universe. “I started to develop an intrigue for


the National Library of Wales before I had ever even seen it. I was in Pantycelyn student halls at the time and I once had to write an essay, which was due in at 5pm that day, and I hadn’t started it. A friend of mine then suggested to go to The National Library to get a few books out and in order to get it done and I remember walking around the corner, past the hedges thinking ‘Where is this National Library?!’. “I then eventually found it and I have never forgotten the impact that seeing


Hannah Raybould: With Fflur Dafydd (Pic. Dr Stephanie Jones)


the building had on me. It was enormous and had such wonderful architecture. But then going in and walking along the red carpets makes it a building that really embraces people and treats every reader the same. I just thought it was a fantastic building and there were many stories waiting to be told there. Fflur continued by saying: “An


achievement I wanted to get from the film was the feeling that you can view The National Library as a place that may be taken for granted and for people to see it in a totally different light. I do think there is something special about it and the fact that there are certain places that the public don’t have access to. But then if you want to go deeper in trying to search for something, you actually go deeper into the mystery of the building such as the darkest parts of the library and the archives. “All of those things are what made


me thought ‘actually, they are quite symbolical of Wales itself under all its layers’, so it seemed to speak on behalf of the whole country really.” Talking in greater detail about the


making of the film, Fflur explained: “For ‘The Library Suicides’, I sat in on the casting process and Euros and I decided between us who we wanted. To be honest, Catrin Stewart stood out from the beginning because she was the only actress that made these girls likeable in their oddity. “It was quite tough thing to do, to


make these murderous characters appeal to an audience and to make them, at the same time, vulnerable and charming under all of those layers. “For the role of the Dan the Porter,


I already knew that Dyfan Dwyfor had great comic timing and a great look for the character as well. He’s a North Walian and I really wanted the contrast between the Welsh accents. He had that cheekiness and charm so I knew he was going to be great as Dan. “We wanted the contrast between Dan and Carwyn Glyn’s character, who


is also an actor on ‘Pobl Y Cwm’. He’s a great comedy actor and, when he came into the auditions, there was a part of the script where it said he had to make noises with his lips. “Every actor interpreted that


differently, but there was something about Carwin rehearsing that bit that made it super cringeworthy and funny all at the same time.” Fflur further explained: “We then


agreed on casting both Dyfan and Carwyn as well as Ryland Teifi (Eben) as he who is someone who I have known for years. In addition, Ryland has always been able to incorporate vulnerability into his characters with boyishness. “I was really pleased that Euros


and I totally agreed on who should get these roles. There were never any disagreements with the casting or anything else within the production side of things, so it was obvious that we shared a vision.” Expanding on her tips for career


starters within the session, Fflur told The Herald: “I think that a lot of writers and creative people are told that they should concentrate on doing one thing. I have always battled against that because I was always doing a bit of singing and song writing as well as being an academic and a novelist - so I wanted to do it all! “What I’ve learnt is if you get known


for one thing, then more opportunities will follow. I think, first and foremost, I made a name for myself as a novelist, and so people knew that I could write and that’s where the approaches from television companies came from. “For me, ‘Parch’ came about when


I had a reputation as a writer and taking on a novelist for a screenwriter role is a bit of a risk because you don’t know how they are able to adapt to those changes.” Fflur then added: “It’s advisable for


any writer who wants to make a career out of writing to be really flexible in all mediums, and to understand that sometimes that first draft isn’t good enough. But, from there, you accept


it and keep on re-drafting so in every medium, you’ll see yourself starting from scratch almost but it’s always good as a writer to have different things going on.


“I’ve been out of the music world for


around three years now and I’m starting to get to the point where I’m thinking I would quite like to start recording again. It’s good to have different things going on in your life at the same time in order to keep you fresh and energised. “It’s also good to work with various


types of people because musicians are totally different from television industry professionals, academics are totally different from novelists so you get to know a rich tapestry of the variety of industries. “If I hadn’t have come to


Aberystwyth and been on that pathway to studying R.S Thomas, especially at the National Library where I got the idea for ‘The Library Suicides’, then I would never have written the film as it is now. “Equally, studying R.S Thomas for


my PhD allowed me to discover he was a Vicar, which started me off thinking about Vicars which then lead to creating ‘Parch’.” To conclude the interview, Fflur


reassures all career starters by saying: “Every writer should always remember that no experience is ever wasted. If you’re in a job that you don’t want to be in but you want to be a writer, just remember that going through that experience will give you something to write about later, so it’s all good.” BAFTA hosts 80 events a year across


Wales to encourage individuals from all backgrounds to learn more about the career opportunities in film, television and games; and welcomes new members year-round. They are also hosting their 25th British Academy Cymru Awards in St David’s Hall, Cardiff, on Sunday (Oct 2), and all are welcome to attend. For more information, visit www.


bafta.org/wales and follow on Facebook @BAFTACymru.


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