From Batman to the Baftas

FEATURE

Dafydd Wyn in action

What does a Star Wars-loving, comic book-worshipping, self-confessed “total geek” dream of doing for a living? Directing sci-fi films of course, and Bafta Cymru winner Dafydd Wyn appears to be living that dream.

A TV director by trade, Wyn, 43, relished the opportunity to work on a film and put his experience writing comics to good use.

“I’ve had some comic stories published by DC worldwide, including in Batman, Wildcats and Stormwatch,” said Wyn. “But unfortunately the real work got in the way of writing and I let this slip.

“So being a total geek, I jumped at the chance to do a sci-fi project, and having written comics back in the day, I was given the opportunity to re-imagine an old Welsh language radio character called Gari Tryfan.”

Wyn, who works for Welsh TV company Boomerang, describes Gari Tryfan as a Dick Barton 1950s detective-type character who is sent through time and stranded in the present-day. Currently working on the second Gari Tryfan film, Wyn is crossing his fingers for a series.

For the young Wyn, who recalls seeing Star Wars 11 times when he was 11 years old, sci-fi seems to have been a constant in a childhood spent on the move. Born in Pontypridd, Wyn went to primary school in Bangor before moving to Aberystwyth for secondary school. He went to Cardiff University to study English and Classical Studies, and has stayed in the city ever since.

Aside from a fondness for all things sci-fi, Wyn’s other great passion is music. He spent his first year after university working as a session musician.

“I thought I was Wales’s answer to Mark King of 80s band Level 42”, he confesses. “I was about to move down to London with my band when HTV offered me a job as a researcher on a Welsh music series. When they told me what the wage was, my rock and roll aspirations went straight out of the window.”

After a couple of years as a researcher at HTV, Wyn got the chance to start directing. His love for music inspired him to start a series promoting new bands.

“Having played in both Welsh and English language bands and been amazed at the lack of TV coverage for the English language groups, I managed to con HTV into letting me start a series where we made videos for unsigned and new bands,” explained Wyn. “I’ve managed to keep on doing this off and on under different titles – The Electric Chair, Shotgun Slideshow, Unsigned – since about 1995.

“Stereophonics, Bullet for My Valentine, Funeral for a Friend and many others all got their first TV appearance with us.”

HTV’s Unsigned was a huge success and last year it won a Bafta Cymru for Best Music Programme for Wyn and fellow director Bethan Arwel.

Wyn’s career has run the whole gamut of TV, from quiz shows and arts documentaries to drama and extreme sports, and he is positive about the current Welsh film and TV industry.

“I think things are pretty healthy at the moment and the micro movie initiative has been successful in developing new ideas and people,” said Wyn, whose wife produces children’s programmes for S4C, and has two daughters, Anna, 13, and Maia, 10. “It’s given relatively old people like me an opportunity to do stuff they’ve always dreamed of doing.

“I’m very grateful to have been given the chance to make some films and hope I get to do some more. What is also great at the moment is the effort that is being put into developing new writers – without them we’d have nothing to point a camera at!”

Aside from working on TV projects and Gari Tryfan, Wyn can be found in between the shelves of his favourite comic store.

“I still feel like the 11-year-old who went to see Star Wars,” he laughs. “You can find me in Forbidden Planet buying comics every Saturday morning.”

This was published in the Cardiff Evening News, Cardiff Journalism School’s training newspaper

© Melanie Hall 2017