Unexpected reasons for learning Welsh: Finding oneself working as an extra in a TV drama, and all the directions are given in Welsh.
I'll back up a little. The police drama Hinterland is filmed in this area, in both Welsh and English. This is terribly exciting and we had to watch the first series at least twice because the first time through we kept saying,
Oh look, that's so and so! or,
That's not the route to Aberystwyth, or,
He'll never get mobile phone signal there, (really, we want to know what network he's with). This detracts somewhat from appreciating the story. We've also watched each episode in both Welsh (with subtitles) and English, as each scene is filmed in both languages.
They're filming Series 2 at the moment and a call went out for locals to come along and play an angry mob of farmers and wives. Quite a few of those who turned up are actually farmers and their wives, one of whom had a few words to say about costume requirements. Do we really have to play to the stereotype? Why can't we just turn up in whatever we'd usually wear? Well, quite.
It was fascinating to see how much goes into making a few seconds of film. The scene involved the detectives driving away from a remote rural location (most of the locations in this series are remote and rural), past an angry mob (who are unimpressed with the progress of the investigation). When we arrived at the base - not the location itself, but a nearby pub with a large car park - the first thing that happened was breakfast. This was a good start. We then had our
costumes checked by wardrobe for suitability, and any brand names and labels were hidden. We then piled into various vehicles and headed over to the location; a farm gate with a line of police tape across it.
Most of the day was spent standing around this gate, interspersed with moving back to allow the car through, and glowering at it. This had to be done many times to be shot from many different angles. We had to make sure we stood and moved in exactly the same place each time, and didn't adjust our clothes, which was checked frequently by wardrobe. Ian's long hair caused them problems as the wind kept blowing it over his shoulders.
My lack of Welsh knowledge didn't cause too many problems. The longest instructions turned out to be a health and safety briefing that boiled down to,
Don't get your toes run over. I only slipped up once, when I nearly pinched the star's place in the car, going from base to location. Luckily I was spotted and stopped before it got too embarrassing.
It's incredible how much work goes into each scene, and this one didn't even include any dialogue. We spent half a day standing around in the cold, and depending on which angles are chosen, may not even end up on screen, but it was good fun get a look behind the scenes. If you haven't seen Hinterland, and if you like your detectives dark and brooding, do watch it. It's very good.