My journey with ‘Y Labordy’ Screenwriters’ Lab in Wales
By Fflur Dafydd, Professional Writer
My journey with Y Labordy Screenwriters’ Lab started at a crucial time for me as a writer. I had been commissioned to write my first TV drama series and was approaching draft 60 of my first feature-length screenplay (and no, that’s not a joke; it has just taken me a very long time to know what I’m doing). And although I had spent many years teaching other people to write novels, I felt very much cut adrift from the learning process myself. Y Labordy threw me head first into that exhilarating experience of study again – analysing films through the eyes of others, studying sequences and dramatic beats, understanding characters inside out and building the location from the ground up. It pushed my current projects in new, exciting directions and enabled me to conceive stories that seemed, at one time, impossible to tell.
The residential weeks at Ty Newydd have been the most formative for me. Again, as a former tutor at Ty Newydd, it was liberating to be back on the other side of the fence: having time to reflect, a room of one’s own (with no children knocking on the door), absorbing film as an art form – but also as a structural, storytelling technique – with the likes of film experts Mary-Kate and Rachel O’Flanagan, director Kieran Evans, short film writer Kate Herron, Mad Men producer/writer Lisa Albert, and Jeppe Gjervig Gram, writer of Borgen. These wonderful figures and personalities informed, enlightened, challenged and enriched our experiences of filmmaking and writing, and gave us a new vision that was fresh and ambitious.
Above all, I was inspired and nurtured by my fellow writers on the lab – Bethan Marlow, Jon Gower and Dafydd James – writers I had long admired, but never been in their company for any great length of time. We have now become each other’s sounding boards – true comrades-in-arts, as the poet Nigel Jenkins used to say – which is a rare and beautiful thing for any writer to find.
Ultimately, I feel that Y Labordy has now given us all the confidence needed to take Wales and Welshness to the world without compromising ourselves. Long may the work, and the vision continue.
Fflur went on a tailored 11 month (part-time) scheme, involving residential courses at Literature Wales’ renowned Tŷ Newydd Writers’ Centre and regular bespoke one to one mentoring. A new tailored initiative for experienced Welsh language writers of theatre, film and TV led by Literature Wales, Y Labordy was a unique opportunity for four experienced and aspiring writers to develop their ideas alongside some of the most respected scriptwriters and producers in their industry.