S4C, the first Welsh-language-only channel in the UK since 1982, hit a milestone anniversary this year. Now 40, S4C’s Chief Executive Sian Doyle announced at Wales Screen Summit this morning that the broadcaster is marking the occasion by looking firmly to the future: committing to producing one Welsh film a year, thanks to £2 million of investment from Creative Wales through Sinema Cymru, with the support of Ffilm Cymru.
“The first part of this innovative partnership to go live is the development funding, which will be available within the next month for three films, one of which will be chosen for production,” Doyle said.
“We at S4C are firm believers in training and skills building. And I’m delighted that the development of the next generation of writers who will bring Wales to the big screen and contribute to this film project’s success is already underway. Through Sinema Cymru, National Film and TV School Cymru is currently selecting the first batch of aspiring writers who will start high-level training and mentoring in O’r Sgript i’r Sinema (From Script to Cinema) this summer, the first Welsh language screenwriter development scheme of its kind by the school [and a first for S4C and Creative Wales.] Details will be on the Ffilm Cymru Wales website.”
In addition, the Welsh broadcaster is also partnering with interactive film and gaming studio, Wales Interactive.
“We have today formally launched a call for ideas for the commission and production of an interactive film in Welsh,” Doyle announced. “Wales Interactive and S4C will choose and co-fund the development of up to three scripts, one of which will be considered for commission. Further details can be found on the S4C and the Wales Interactive websites. I’m incredibly excited about this initiative and the potential it provides to reach and engage young audiences whilst putting the Welsh language on gaming platforms around the world.”
This all comes on the back of S4C’s recent successes, including a licence fee settlement in January 2022 that saw the channel receive an extra £7.5 million from the BBC licence fee per year, on top of its £6.8 million funding. Doyle was also pleased to remind Summit attendees of that viral Gemma Collins moment on More than Daffs and Taffs; its Love Island-beating win at the Broadcast Awards with Rhyw, Anabledd a Fi (Disability, Sex and Me), and drama Dal Y Mellt (Catch The Lightning) being picked by Netflix (retitled to Rough Cut) – the first Welsh-language content on the streamer. (Reviewed by Buzz here.)
The results, according to Doyle, have been a 16% increase in peak viewership in the last year – S4C’s highest in five. Its 16-44 demographic is also at its highest in 10 years. “Continuing to grow this younger audience is also a big priority for us for the next period,” she said, adding: “The sector is strong and thriving here in Wales.”
words HANNAH COLLINS
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