The Creative Industries have grown to become a major part of the South Wales landscape – creating world-class TV and Film productions, nurturing exciting talent across many different skillsets; and launching many rewarding careers for people from all communities.
Graham Beswick, CEO Mad Dog 2020 Casting, started his own remarkable career as a trained accountant with Deloitte, before pursuing a vocation in the film industry … becoming one of the early ‘internet entrepreneurs’ … owner of an AI consultancy … and after capitalising all his companies ahead of the 2008 crash, acquiring what has become the industry-leading Mad Dog 2020 Casting….
“As soon as I qualified from Deloitte I went into the film industry, but left at 29 to start my own business – an Artificial Intelligence consultancy – before acquiring a subsidiary of the Daily Telegraph to set up what became a pioneering Business Angel network. In 1995 I started my own internet business, which I sold before the dotcom crash in 2001. By then I’d built up something of a reputation for creating early-stage start-ups and on the good advice of a friend, sold them all before the 2008 meltdown, which gave me the capital to make some interesting acquisitions, including Mad Dog.
“What the Welsh government and companies life Bad Wolf have achieved is absolutely remarkable”
“Mad Dog is now 21 years old and we’re seen as the most professionally-run Extras agency in the UK. We have offices in London, Glasgow and Manchester – and Cardiff of course, which has become our largest office, even bigger than London. I’ve watched the growth of South Wales as a creative centre and it’s been remarkable. In fact, for the first time in my life, I found myself motivated to write an email to a government – the Welsh Government – congratulating them on the way they have been a catalyst for introducing a world-class TV and Film industry into the region. It’s phenomenal – along with the extraordinary work being done at places like Bad Wolf Studios.
“Welsh talent is as good as anywhere and the future is there to grab”
“The feeling is that this great story has just begun in and around Cardiff – and the future’s there to grab. The world’s going through real change at the moment – social, technological and climatic – and the growth of the creative cluster around Cardiff seems to be part of this new era. Wales has the creative talent to match that anywhere – it just needs to believe in itself. With the major Netflix, Amazon and other productions pouring in, I think the region will see a 40% growth in TV and Filmjobs over the next few years. The big challenge and opportunity is to train enough people to meet all that demand for Directors, Assistant Directors, Script Editors, Costume and Set Designers; and all the other jobs behind the camera.
“I think the region will see a 40% increase in TV & Film jobs and it needs to train the people to do those jobs”
“We’re doing our bit to help open up the industry to a more diverse group of people – including training our own team in Unconscious Bias. We also do street casting in Wales, approaching people who have never been involved as a Supporting Artist in films; and we’re deliberately challenging the norm of what’s ‘representative’ and what’s ‘beautiful’. We realise that Film and TV is in a very powerful position in society and like a number of organisations such as BAFTA, we’re committed to go looking for new talent rather than casting the cousin of someone we know. The people we put on screen now will be seen as the norm in society in a few years’ time – so we really can drive change.
“If Wales takes the lead and skills-up, it could capture it all”
“We see ourselves as a Welsh company – our registered office is in North Wales – and in my mind there’s no doubt that Wales can be a major player on the world stage in Film and TV. It’s going to take leadership – it always does – and it needs skilling up to meet the demand. Do that and Wales could capture it all.”