One of Bangor University’s more famous alumni is acclaimed film director Danny Boyle and one former History student at the University, now barman, is attempting to follow in the Oscar winner’s footsteps.
Dion Wyn, 30, from Bangor has been working on bringing his vision to life for nearly a year now and is getting closer to making that vision a reality. His film idea, a horror/drama is set against the backdrop of the Snowdonia National Park.
Despite boasting breath taking scenery which wouldn’t look out of place in a sprawling cinematic epic, North Wales is not renowned for being a film making hub. With his potential welsh blockbuster, Dion is hoping to change all of that.
Although he has always been fascinated with film, he originally studied History at Bangor University before taking a job at the cities student bar, Bar Uno. That was six years ago, around the same time he started to indulge in his appreciation of film by becoming a film critic.
With David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson amongst the main inspirations behind his work, Dion said: “I became a critic as I wanted to learn more about cinema. I also wanted to explore different kinds of cinema.”
From his website, a YouTube channel has grown and now Dion appears as a weekly guest on Radio Cymru. He also has plans to do a Masters in Cinema followed by a possible PhD. However, it is his work for Radio Cymru which has had the most bearing when it comes to his film.
While the film is going to be in Welsh, he is keen for it to appeal to a wider audience. He says: “My radio work is on a Welsh station unfortunately so it’s quite inclusive in the fact that most people have no idea what the hell I’m saying.
“I’m trying to avoid that with this film, although it is in Welsh. There will be subtitles once we get to editing. Of course, that is introducing new problems because my script writer doesn’t understand Welsh.”
Appealing to a wider audience beyond his native Wales is obviously very important to Dion and it isn’t all about the language. “North Wales isn’t a place that’s filmed in too often.
“There have been a handful of recent movies, the Guy Ritchie helmed King Arthur being a prime example but it is still not as filmed as you may think which is a crying shame in my opinion, especially when you consider the natural beauty of the region.”
This need to show off his homeland is also the driving force behind Dion’s decision tofilm in black and white. He says: “Filming in black and white will give the film a more atmospheric feel which kind of fits well with the North Wales landscape.
“I’m also hoping that we’ll get some traditional Welsh rain which will help to add even more atmosphere to the film, especially with the black and white. Ideally, I’ll have sunshine in the day and rain and wind at night.”
In terms of how far along he is with his project, he is now at the casting stage having completed a first ninety-minute draft of his script. Originally, he was hoping to start filming in the summer but that has had to be put on hold until the autumn while he completes a film course.
While desperate to see his vision become a reality, Dion faces an anxious wait for possible funding from a variety of sources, one of which is the Media Investment fund set up by welsh ministers in 2014.
Worth an estimated £30 million over five years, the fund targets films which can shoot 50% of their principle photography in Wales. Aiming to support between 6-8 films a year, the usage of the fund has recently been criticised by language campaigners.
Despite spending £7 million on films in English, just £40,000 has been spent on films in Welsh since 2011 which equates to 0.57% of the total cash on offer. Campaigners argue that film is an important means of promoting cultures, especially those expressed in minority languages such as Welsh
Carl Morris, chair of the digital group of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, said: “It is a matter of great disappointment that our government, which is partly responsible for promoting Welsh, can favour the English language to such an extent, especially considering the talent and ability to create films of the highest standards in Welsh.
“An investment of £7m over three years in English is very substantial, and the paltry £40,000 is an insult to those who want to produce films in Welsh, the film and television industry working in Welsh, and supporters of the Welsh language more generally.”
A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: “These comments from Cymdeithas yr Iaith only take account of funding to feature films and do not recognise the substantial support given by the Welsh Government to Welsh language projects that are broadcast via other media such as television and online platforms.”
With Dion’s project possibly relying on funding from the Welsh Government, as well as other sources, it remains to be seen whether it will ever see the light of day. However, he is determined to make the film whether he gets funding or not.
He said: “Even if I don’t get the money, I will make it. Media is a very difficult industry to get into, especially film. You have to try and go it alone otherwise you’ll never get anywhere.”
As for future projects from Bangor’s newest budding film maker, he has a slow burning idea for a musical based on Brexit and, following some advice from Bangor alumni Danny Boyle, is keen to direct a theatre production.