Sunday 29 January 2023

Aria Studios - its Importance to Northwest Wales

Author Tim Felce Licence CC BY-SA 2.0  Source Wikimedia Commons


Jane Lambert

Reminiscing about his childhood in  Holyhead, Celyn Jones said that there were very few career opportunities for school leavers.  They could work on the railways or Irish Sea ferries, at an aluminium smelter or at a nuclear power station.  He made those remarks in an interview to celebrate the opening of Aria's impressive new film studios near Llangefni on 26 Jan 2023.  He concluded his interview by remarking that young people in Anglesey now enjoyed the option of "going down the studio."  

As a Cambriophile, his remark resonated with me.  For most of my life, I have witnessed the gradual industrial decline and consequential depopulation of Northwest Wales.  That decline has been arrested by the Menai Science Park at Gaerwen, the Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre at Bangor and most recently the Aria Film Studios,  Each of those initiatives has stimulated the launch and growth of new businesses in the creative and science-based industries.  In turn, those businesses have generated many well-paid jobs 

After discussing some of the intellectual property and data protection issues of film-making at the science park earlier in the day, I was invited to Aria's opening ceremony.  My visit began with a tour of the studios.  The TV series Rownd a Rownd is recorded at the studios and visitors were invited to inspect the sets.  The first set that I visited was labelled "Tŷ K" which means "K's house" in Welsh. A lady and gentleman were on the set and after wishing them a "good evening" I enquired who was "K".  The lady introduced herself as the actor who plays K in the TV series. They explained that the series is set in Menai Bridge, a few miles south of Llangefni.

As Rownd a Rownd is a Welsh language show I had been encouraged to watch it by one of my teachers on a Sadwrn Siarad (Saturday conversation) course.  I had actually watched one or two episodes on the BBC iPlayer when my Welsh was a good deal better than it is now. I knew it had a substantial following in Wales as had another longstanding Welsh language TV series, Pobl y Cwm.  I visited several other sets and met other members of the Rownd a Rownd cast.  One of them told me that every aspect of the production was conducted in Welsh including technical matters. Upon my asking about the technical side one of the guides took me to the makeup department.  The lady in charge discussed some of the challenges of her job such as how to replicate with makeup the healing of a scar or or bruise.

Aria has two massive studios and one of them was used for a reception.  A stage had been erected at one end of the studio above which there was a massive screen.  Celyn Jones had been interviewed on that stage. Other guests from Creative Wales, Bangor University and the Welsh film and TV industry delivered speeches from the stage. Recorded messages from the First Minister of Wales, the local MP and other speakers were flashed on the screen.  Nearly all the speeches were delivered in Welsh.  Simultaneous translation was available but I chose not to use it.  This was a rare opportunity for me as a student of Welsh living outside Wales to hear live wall-to-wall Welsh and I did not want to waste it.  I think I got the gist of most of the speeches and conversations but I must have missed some of the content.

One of the characters I have encountered through learning Welsh is Gareth the Orangutan.  My favourite Gareth clip is his drive around Caernarfon with the actor, Owain Arthur.  Mr Arthur had been one of the speakers at the reception and I encountered him just as I was leaving.  I reminded him of his video with Gareth which seemed to amuse him.  He retorted that he was about to try some of the chips which had been provided by the local restaurant chain, Dylans.  The significance of "chips" is that Gareth likes chips though as he explained in another clip about his work experience at a chip shop he can't eat them because they are too hot.  One of the tunes that Gareth and Mr Arthur played and sang along to was Fflipin Lyfio Chips which does not require translation any more than Llareggub.

Aria's collaborators include

  •  Cymru Creadigol (Creative Wales), the Welsh creative industries body 
  • Ffilm Cymru Wales, the national film agency 
  • S4C,  the Welsh language TV channel 
  • Screen Alliance Wales which is concerned with recruitment and training for the film and TV industries, 
  • Rondo the film and TV programme marker, and 
  • the Universities of Bangor and South Wales.  
The websites of those organizations contain a lot of information on the Welsh film industry and the facilities, services and personnel that are available for film and TV makers in Wales.  More is available from Creadigol Cymru's Filming in Wales web page.

As this is an intellectual property publication, it is worth mentioning that films are works in which copyright subsists pursuant to s.1 (1) (b) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.  "Film” for this purpose means "a recording on any medium from which a moving image may by any means be produced" (s.5B (1)).   The "author" of a film is its producer and principal director by virtue of s.9 (2) (ab)S.10 (1A) provides that a film shall be treated as a work of joint authorship unless the producer and the principal director are the same person.  Subject to certain exceptions, copyright subsists in a film for 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the death occurs of the last to die of the principal director, the author of the screenplay, the author of the dialogue, or the composer of music specially created for and used in the film (S.13B (2)).  Actors' performances whether on a stage or in a studio are also protected from unauthorized filming, taping or broadcasting by a separate intellectual property right known as rights in performances pursuant to Part II of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

There is now a small but growing corps of intellectual property advisors in Northwest Wales,  They include patent and trade mark attorneys such as Sean Thomas, solicitors like Andrea Knox and Johnty Gordon and tax advisors like Steve Livingston.  I support all those professionals and their clients.   Anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact page

Friday 27 January 2023

World Intellectual Property Day 2023

Author WIPO Licence CC Attribution 3.0 IGO


Jane Lambert

World Intellectual Property Day is an annual, international festival of creativity and innovation that takes place on or around 26 April to celebrate the anniversary of the coming into force of the treaty that established the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO"), the UN agency for intellectual property.   Each year the celebrations focus on a different theme.  This year's theme is "Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity."

The Menai Science Park ("M-SParc") at Gaerwen on Anglesey has celebrated every World IP Day since 2019 with a lunchtime seminar.  These have been Wales's main contribution to the worldwide celebrations.  They have raised awareness of the importance of intellectual property to the businesses and general public in Northwest Wales but also the rapidly growing importance of the region to the Welsh and wider UK economies.   

Nothing underscores the region's importance more than the opening of Aria Film Studios near Llangefni which I shall discuss in a separate article shortly.  Those studios have stimulated demand for creatives and technicians of all kinds prompting imaginative responses from local and national recruitment and training providers.  

It is with those developments in mind that M-SParc has begun to plan this year's World IP Day celebrations.  As in previous years, the project will be led by Emily Roberts with the assistance of Charlie Jones.   The centrepiece will be a hybrid in-person and online seminar for which we hope to use the Haia platform.  The main speakers will be women inventors and creatives from M-SParc's tenant companies plus at least one IP professional.   As we have a little more time to plan this year we hope to encourage some of the organizations based at M-SParc and in the region to stage their own celebrations. 

Anyone wishing to discuss this article is welcome to call me at +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form at any other time.