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.
A distinguished producer with a pedigree that includes running Zenith Entertainment in London, Adrian Bate’s journey to Wales came through working with Welsh talent – and seeing both the commercial and creative advantages of establishing Vox Pictures in Cardiff’s Mount Stuart Square. Five years on from opening their doors in the heart of Cardiff Bay, how has the venture progressed – and what opportunities does he see for the people working here in our ever-expanding TV and Film industry?
“Like many good things in life, my own journey to Wales wasn’t really planned! I worked with the fantastic Welsh-based Director, Pip Broughton, while I was at Zenith and we made some well-received productions for the BBC, including 55 Degrees North. Pip then became Creative Director at Stephen Fry’s Sprout Productions, bringing me in to produce on the Sky Playhouse series; where one of the actors was Craig Roberts, Newport born and bred. The three of us enjoyed working together and it showed in the end results, so we decided to create a company and make the productions that we really wanted to make.
“Being here meant we could afford facilities and sleep at night”
“When we set-up Vox Pictures in Mount Stuart Square, Pip was already in talks to make the Welsh-language version of Keeping Faith (Un Bore Mercher) for S4C. Welsh-based writer Matthew Hall created the Series prior to BBC Wales becoming involved – and the rest is history. It’s become a BBC 1 hit and has now found an SVOD platform with Acorn in the US. Keeping Faith has grown into a big production beast during those five years, costing around £750,000 an hour; and we couldn’t have geared Vox to achieve that without the commercial advantages of being based in Cardiff rather than London. The economics of being here mean we could run our edit suites from the offices, development rooms and all the other things that help you plan ahead to create a £5 million series – and still sleep at night.
“Cardiff has been an incredibly fertile bed for us to sit in and grow our projects”
“Although Keeping Faith has been the main arch for the company over the past five years, we’ve also been proud to work on the anniversary project for Aberfan The Green Hollow and the production to mark the 60th anniversary of the NHS To Provide All People (both written by Wales based poet and novelist Owen Sheers. Cardiff has become an incredibly fertile bed for us to sit in and grow our projects. It’s allowed us to set-up three satellite companies too, establishing Cliff Edge Pictures with Craig, Empty Room Productions with Eve Myles and a company with Sandi Tosvig which has just seen us shoot at The Globe in London and bring the post-production back to Wales.
“After a year of working with us or any other production company, you’ll know what you want to do”
“We’re also bringing the post-production to Wales from a film shot in Norfolk – and being able to generate inward investment is important to us, as the Welsh government supported us with a grant when COVID hit in March 2020, has continued backing us with an equity investment in a major new production; and also enabled us to fund the hiring of a brilliant new Producer and Head of Production. The talent is definitely here in Wales and we’re looking to nurture that, through mentorships and traineeships – giving people the opportunity to find out where their future lies in this industry, because after a year of working with us or any other production company, you’ll know what you want to do.
“We’re now aiming to make bigger and even better productions from here in Cardiff”
“We’ve proven ourselves to be very good at what we do, thanks to the talent and support here in Wales. I feel that there’s a really health creative forum for our ideas at S4C and BBC Wales. We want to build on that, move up to the £1m-plus productions – and make strategic alliances with partners who can give us global reach to make bigger and even better productions based out of Cardiff.”