North Wales TV company on the crest of a wave after Celtic first with global ambition

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A television production company from North Wales took centre stage in the first ever collaboration involving four Celtic broadcasters.

Caernarfon-based Cwmni Da sent crews to four continents, taking in 10 countries and the Arctic to film an ambitious £600,000 series about the world’s tides.

The first programme in the three-part series called Llanw (Tide) will be broadcast on S4C at 8pm on Sunday, June 2.

The partnership also included TG4 in the Republic of Ireland, BBC Northern Ireland, MG Alba in Scotland and the LIC, the largest independent television production company in China.

Distributor Sky Vision also invested in the project via a Welsh Government fund which they administer.

The collaboration has already inspired the setting up of the new Celtic Development Fund to develop similar co-productions.

The Welsh, Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic and English versions of the series have all been edited at Cwmni Da’s state-of-the-art production centre.

The series is being distributed in Greater China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan by LIC and Sky Vision is currently in the process of selling it to other broadcasters world-wide.

Dylan Huws, the managing director of Cwmni Da, said: “It was pitched originally to a forum of all the Celtic broadcasters and they all immediately showed interest.

“Meanwhile, LIC also wanted to be part of it because we wanted to include some Chinese stories as part of the series. They saw that this could work for their home audience.

“This is the first time ever that all the Celtic partners have worked together so we’ve created a bit of broadcasting history.

“Each partner put in around £100,000 which means they’re getting a high-end documentary series which has been filmed all over the world.

“It works out as approximately £35,000 an hour each which is good value, so it’s a no-brainer regarding on-screen production values, and getting really good content.

“I hope that the project played its part in the setting up of a Celtic Development Fund between the broadcasters which means that they now sit down and talk to each other about the potential for other co-productions.

“That gives us as producers more of a focus to bid into a fund for development money to develop projects which might be of interest to all these broadcasters.

“In this case we shared out the production in that the Scottish partner, MacTV did the Scottish programme, an Irish producer did the Irish programme and we were central to it all.

“Cwmni Da was the driving force of the project in many ways and we sent teams as far afield as China, Canada and Korea along with various locations in Wales and across the UK. In all we filmed on four different continents, including 10 countries and the Arctic.

“It’s been quite a juggling act. At one stage we had edit suites doing an English language version, a Welsh language version, a Scots/Gaelic version and an Irish version all at the same time.

“The production was epic in scale and content because we witnessed the world’s strongest and highest tides and experienced raging whirlpools and tidal bores in some of the most stunning locations on the planet.

“The highest tides are in the Bay of Fundy in Canada where they reach 70 feet, with a massive tidal range of 56 feet, the height of a five-storey building, between high and low tide.

“The largest tidal bore is in Hangzhou Bay in China and that was amazing.  There were 100,000 people on the banks of the river celebrating the annual Harvest Moon festival and witnessing the arrival of the tidal bore called the Silver Dragon which travels at 20 mph and is a bit like a tsunami coming up river.

“We filmed the world’s strongest tide in Norway in a fjord which squeezes the water in the outgoing tide through a 130 metre gap to the open sea and has claimed the lives of 60 people over the years.

“We’ve got excellent stories from all the partners’ territories and what I was really pleased about was that the stories that we had originally pitched made it into the final programme because the commissioning editors were totally captivated by some of the images in the pitch.

“We have focused on human stories, so that you get a slice of people’s lives as well. For example, we looked at the way that people in China produce seaweed and at the work of the mussel fishermen in the Menai Straits.

“One of the most remarkable things we filmed was an amazing horse race which happens in Omey Bay in Ireland.

“They set up a horse racing track when the tide goes out and it only happens on one day a year.

“All the partners are proud of the fact that we have worked together because the television budgets for minority indigenous languages are challenging.

“This collaboration means we have all got more bang for our buck and created a great television series in the process.”

“The first programme goes on air in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland on May 2 and then in Wales and BBC Northern Ireland on June 2.”

Caption

The Bay of Fundy