Coleg y Cymoedd launches initiative to support Welsh creative talent to work in the film industry

Coleg y Cymoedd has teamed up with a leading creative industry body to boost learners’ prospects of securing a career in film and television.

The college has officially partnered with Screen Alliance Wales, a not-for-profit organisation which works to develop and grow a pipeline of talent for Wales’ TV and film industries.

The partnership will enable learners to gain valuable industry experience with film and TV production companies in Wales, as well as the opportunity to learn directly from world-leading experts in the field.

Left – Right: Coleg y Cymoedd creative learner, Ashley Syms, with course leader, Alistair Aston, and Eliot Gibbins, who heads up creature effects for His Dark Materials

While original plans for the programme were centred around providing work placements and facility tours, in light of current circumstance, elements of the scheme have been adapted, with a focus on virtual masterclasses and socially distanced workshops. Learners will also receive training sessions on how to operate safely within the sector during the pandemic.

Moving forward, once appropriate, the college hopes to roll out the full programme, which will see learners have access to various work placement opportunities where they will be able to shadow industry professionals and gain an insight into different TV and film roles. They will also benefit from visits and tours of Cardiff-based Wolf Studios Wales, famous for producing shows such as BBC One hit His Dark Materials, Sky Original drama A Discovery of Witches and upcoming BBC/HBO co-production Industry.

Creature Effects in action on the set of His Dark Materials

The first stage of building stronger links with industry at Coleg y Cymoedd has seen the talented team behind His Dark Materials set up a base at the college. The show’s heads of ‘Creature Effects’, Brian Fisher and Eliot Gibbins, who are responsible for creating the on-set references for the creatures found in the series, will work out of the college over the next year, developing creature effects for a variety of film and TV productions.

As artists in residence, they will provide learners with insights into the fascinating world of creature effects, showing them how traditional puppetry and cutting-edge visual effects are used to bring daemons and animals to life on screen.

Eliot Gibbins said: “We are passionate about educating and nurturing the next generation of creative talent. Being based at Coleg y Cymoedd will enable us to provide an educational outfit, offering seminars and workshops to help students gain hands on experience and develop the skills needed for a job within the industry.

“As well as helping to create a pipeline of potential candidates for future roles, having a base here will also allow us to have access to the incredible industry-leading tools and equipment available at the college.”

Coleg y Cymoedd learner Jacob Mansell

Jacob Mansell, 18, from Pencoed, is one of the learners set to benefit from the partnership. Jacob, who has just started a course in prop making at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “I’m really excited to start my course in prop making and part of the reason why I chose to study here was because of the links with industry. Gaining work experience will be crucial to boosting my employment opportunities in the creative industries.

“Having the chance to work with professionals will help me establish what area I want to work in as well as boost my skills and help me to stand out from others. It will also enable me to make connections with key people in the heart of industry, which will be very beneficial in the future.”

As part of the collaboration with Screen Alliance Wales, the college will also work closely with the organisation to develop its courses in line with industry requirements, ensuring learners are equipped with the skills they will need for successful careers. Leading experts will also be invited to deliver masterclasses for creative learners at the college.

Thanks to the partnership, learners on creative courses will be able to develop a range of key industry skills including camera work, special effects and prop creation. They will also participate in mock interviews to prepare them for future roles in creative fields.

Hit Show His Dark Materials uses a mix of traditional puppetry and cutting-edge visual effects to bring to life the animals on the show.

Alistair Aston, course leader for Coleg y Cymoedd’s TV and Film Prop Making course, said: “We’re very excited to be collaborating with Screen Alliance Wales and the partnership will bring plenty of benefits to our learners, ensuring they are equipped with the right skills and experience to enter the workforce of the future.

“Obviously, with the current climate, things have had to be adapted to make sure learners continue to have access to experience and insights from industry professionals in a safe way. We are thrilled to have the creature effects team from His Dark Materials join us as artists in residence at the college. They will be an invaluable learning resource for learners across our whole portfolio of creative courses.”

Enterprising Festival scoops top Award

Coleg y Cymoedd is delighted to have been part of a collaborative Summer Start up Week that scooped one of the top awards in the Enterprise Catalyst category at this year’s National Enterprise Education Awards (NEEA).

The NEEA recognise excellence in enterprise and entrepreneurship education and celebrate exceptional support of learners, pre Start ups, Start ups and growing ventures.

The Enterprise Catalyst category looked for innovative projects and initiatives that support learners and develop the capabilities they need for an entrepreneurial future.

The online Summer Start up Week designed and delivered by a collaboration of 23 universities and colleges across Wales, ticked all the criteria looked for by a panel of 27 expert judges, including current and former EEUK Directors and EEUK Fellows.

As campuses across Wales closed their doors in March due to the Corona virus, the forward thinking Enterprise Champions worked together to plan and deliver a week long online boot camp, that would support Start up’s and over 500 entrepreneurs.

Coleg y Cymoedd’s Enterprise Champion Lesley Cottrell worked with fellow Champions across Wales and witnessed the benefits of sharing ideas to facilitate the Boot Camp activities. Speaking about her involvement Lesley said” This year has been an extremely challenging time for everyone in the sector, with colleagues having to quickly adapt their teaching via online platforms.

As Enterprise Champions we were keen to support the Enterprise learners during the ‘lockdown’ period and the Summer Start up Week gave us that focus. As a collaborative we shared ideas and good practice to deliver an innovative programme which included ice breaking activities, webinars with motivational speakers, concluding with evening ‘socials’.

Given the success of the collaborative approach we are now planning to make the Summer Show an annual event and are also planning online activities for Global Entrepreneurship Week in November.

We were delighted to receive a letter from Welsh Ministers Ken Skates MS and Kirsty Williams MS congratulating the group for their collaborative work and commitment to develop an entrepreneurial culture in Wales.”

Cymoedd Care learner Nia was one of those who attended the online activities and was inspired by the speakers. Commenting on the presenters she said” I found the sessions absolutely brilliant. Since my youngest child was born I’ve thought about setting up my own business. I studied Care at the college and would love to open my own Nursery. I have made a lot of enquiries but have anxieties, such as “Will I fail before I begin, Will I secure the funding”? I was inspired and excited by the ‘Simply Do’ session which has given me the motivation to pursue my dream of setting up my own business – I feel that I can do it and if I fail, I fail but at least I tried”.

Thinking of starting up your own business, but need advice and support? Contact Lesley Cottrell, Enterprise Champion at Coleg y Cymoedd –

Cymoedd’s ‘Pop Up’ Shop is open for Business

From the start of the new academic year, visitors to Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus will see a new enterprise set up in ‘The Street’. The ‘Green Zone Pop-Up Shop’ is a new venture set up by the learners studying on the Independent Living Skills Programme.

The retail outlet will provide the learners with an exciting opportunity to learn more about running the business and will provide vital work experience to improve communication skills and confidence.

The shop will stock a range of stationery, including Pens, Pencils, Rulers, Erasers and Paper as well as small gifts, birthday cards and a range of handmade craft items made by the learners. Throughout the year, the learners will identify key dates e.g. Christmas, Easter etc. adjusting their stock to suit the occasion.

The learners are also looking to offer a clothing range, including the option of personalised orders such as Cymoedd Hoodies, T-shirts, Beanie Hats and much more.

Course Tutor, Sally Begley said ‘The staff and learners are so excited to see the opening of the Pop Up shop; it is a fantastic opportunity for the learners to gain experience of working in a shop. The learners will gain the skills required to access employment in the retail sector when they leave the college. Staff will be present to support the learners but it will be their responsibility for the running of the shop. The learners have been involved in the discussions and decisions of what items to sell and the costs. The finishing touches have been made and they are keen to welcome their first customers”.

Liam Tomlins, 19, from Caerphilly is a studying on the Gateway to Employment course and will be involved with the running of the shop. Liam has studied at the college since 2017 and is eager to develop his skills whilst working in the shop. Liam said “I think it’s quite a good idea because I think it’s a good start to work experience. Start off small and then work your way up to the big leagues.”


Wellington Street
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN


Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
CF15 7QY


Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
CF82 7XR

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