Visit Wales TV Advert Director Marc Evans Production Interview

I really like the way that Wales is presented to the outside world and it was great to get the opportunity to make a contribution by directing a series of TV commercials for Visit Wales.

Unrehearsed magic 

Film crew and director on location at Abersoch beach, filming Visit Wales TV Advert

Abersoch beach, Llŷn Peninsula

In my head I wanted to make a commercial that felt like the best kind of holidays you could have in Wales. I wanted to recall those impromptu and unrehearsed moments when you find yourself in a place that suddenly becomes a magical spot. 

I love the unpredictability of Wales – the fact that there are so many experiences to be had within a few short miles from each other. But it does mean, however, that shooting in Wales is a challenge, largely because of the changing light and the weather conditions. 

The light fantastic 

Passengers on the Bay Explorer waving their arms

Dolphin spotting with the Bay Explorer, Cardigan Bay, Ceredigion 

We had to proceed with hope and give ourselves enough time to get what we wanted to. The great thing about having a western coastline is that you don't need a lot of sun for everything to suddenly come alive. That’s one of the reasons why so many artists live on the western side of the country.

We were like a ragged army, going out there and experiencing some of the fantastic things Wales has to offer. The aim was to find little narratives that unlocked the magic of the places we were in; nothing complicated, just simple stories that resonate with all of us. 

Simple little things 

Kite surfers being filmed in Porth Neigwl

Kitesurfing in Porth Neigwl, Llŷn Peninsula

When I'm directing films and dramas the biggest challenge for me is always how to go about putting people in the landscape. It’s not simply about shooting the views, it’s how the people relate to the landscape and the sensory feeling of being there.

Sense of freedom

Hand brushing the water in Cardigan Bay

Dolphin spotting, Cardigan Bay

The example that comes immediately to mind is shooting along the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. In Wales, you’re always treading in the footsteps of people who have gone before. It’s not difficult to imagine what must it have been like for those early pilgrims to come down into that little city of St Davids and see the Bishop’s Palace for the first time. 

Walking in others' footsteps

A walker looking at Bishop's Palace from across the valley

Walking near the Bishop's Palace, St David's

We shot a lone walker being buffeted by the wind as he walked along the coast and you see this rough coastline beyond, which is just amazing. I wanted to give the viewer a sense of thirst, so the walker stops at a freshwater stream and takes a drink. Then in one shot he comes down into this very serene environment of the Bishop’s Palace. You can hear the ravens, but there’s no wind any more. It’s a magical experience. I'd compare it to anything – like coming down from the Tuscan hills into Siena in its own way. 

If you're a Welsh director - and there aren't many of us around - you always feel like you're representing your country in some way. In one sense, shooting this series of commercials felt very normal to me, bringing my Welshness to the project. But in another sense I felt the pressure of bringing something to the screen that would appeal right across the board, rather than something that would reflect my personal love of the place.

A love affair with Wales

Parents and children on a tour boat

Dolphin trips in Cardigan Bay, Ceredigion 

There’s a responsibility to cover a variety of locations and experiences in every Visit Wales campaign, to give a fair representation of the country as a whole. 

That meant spending a lot of time walking around, which really gives you time to get a feeling for the environment around you. Gethin Woods, where BikePark Wales is located, comes to mind. It really is a magical place. 

Woodland wonder

Camera crew in the woods

Biking in Gethin Woods, South Wales Valleys 

The thing about Wales is that if you put a little in, you get so much out. It’s not like getting to a particular spot along the Grand Canyon where everyone stops and reaches for their cameras. You've got to explore a bit. I love the idea that in Wales you're always rewarded for going off the beaten path.

My favourite corner of Wales is definitely the area around North Pembrokeshire and south Cardiganshire in West Wales. My family are from around there. To know a place intimately from season to season means something special and it’s a real pleasure to introduce the area to my young daughter. I feel free there.

Director Marc Evans with cameraman

Abersoch beach, Llŷn Peninsula