As Hollywood star Elijah Wood prepares for the premiere of the Dylan Thomas biopic Set Fire to the Stars this week, the film’s producers have praised the important part that University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) students have played in getting the movie onto the big screen.
Set Fire to the Stars tells the story of John Malcolm Brinnin (Elijah Wood), an aspiring poet in 1950s New York who has his ordered world shaken when he embarks on a week-long retreat to save his hell raising hero, Dylan Thomas. It will be premiered during the Edinburgh International Film Festival this week.
The movie was filmed in Swansea earlier this year by production company Mad as Birds, formed by A J Riach, Andy Evans, Celyn Jones (who stars as Dylan Thomas) and Andy Goddard. The four have had success in their respective fields: acting, writing, directing, producing and post production.
Edward Thomas, co-producer and production designer at Bay Studios, said: “Working under the guidance of an experienced and supportive crew, the professional attitudes, enthusiasm and commitment of work placement students from UWTSD made a valuable contribution to Set Fire To The Stars. It was a pleasure working with them and I am sure the experience will prove a memorable starting point for their chosen careers.
“Bay Studio’s ongoing partnerships with both the University and RWCMD helps ensure that talented local students and graduates combine their highly developed specialist skills with invaluable work-based experience. These are the individuals who will help secure the future of the film and television industry in Wales.”
Eleven UWTSD students took on a variety of different roles behind the scenes, such as filming, sound production, costume and set dressing, and working in the production office.
Foundation Art and Design student Louise Sullivan, from Swansea, said: “The peopleI worked with were very kind and welcoming, they encouraged me to ask as many questions as possible and to get involved in other departments that I knew less about. The experience introduced me to how professional filming is carried out, as well as showing me what careers were available within the industry.
“The process also taught me about how much research is needed, as well as seeing the attention to detail given to each scene. Through the course at UWTSD I had experience in making, using new equipment and large scale painting, so I wasn’t nervous about doing it on set.”
Digital Film and Television Production student Joseph Wynne, from Wrexham, said: “I really enjoyed working on the film and it kick-started my career. I learnt so much during the three-week shoot that has proven invaluable ever since. The whole experience was the highlight of my first year and it left me feeling inspired to work hard on my course, to be able to work in my chosen industry full time.
“The skills I gained on my course from the first two terms really helped me out when on set in a busy situation. I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved in my first year at UWTSD, and I am so proud of the film that I helped make.”
Surface Pattern graduate Julie Ashour, from Burry Port, said: “I enjoyed the work placement immensely. I gained invaluable experience through working on a real film set. It was really fun and interesting to see how all of the different departments came together like clockwork. I felt very lucky to be able to work alongside, and learn from, some very talented people who were happy to share their experiences, knowledge and skills. The work placement has given me a lot more confidence in my work and I am hoping to do more work in the film/costume industry in the future.”