WHEN Aberystwyth Student Media arrived at the Hinterland set it was a crisp afternoon by the sea. We were greeted by Ceri Perkins, the production co-ordinator, and a graduate of Aberystwyth University, who took pity on our frigid noses and hands and ushered us into Borth Golf Club.
There was some time before the cast and crew were ready to break for lunch, as filming had run over – so is the nature of the business. I took the opportunity to take Ceri aside and pick his brain on Hinterland and what a normal day on set was for him. After rattling off an inordinate amount of responsibilities, he sighed “it sounds so boring!” I asked him if I should rather be asking him what he didn’t do, after a bit of deliberation he told me that he wasn’t “on set as often as [he] used to be”.
Perkins also went on to describe how he was able to land the gig with Hinterland after his Masters graduation. “About a month after I finished my Masters I was still in Aberystwyth looking for jobs and I got a phone call from my lecturer who [through a series of other phone calls] knew that Fiction Factory were looking for someone to deal with scripts.” So, for those of you who are worrying about prospective jobs after graduating, Ceri did it, and so can we.
After some time I was lucky enough to catch a few words with producer and co-creator of Hinterland, Ed Talfan.
Q: First of all, obvious question, where did you get the idea from?
A: We spent a lot of time up here and we found ourselves stumbling across places and locations that made us think “this’d be a great setting”; Devil’s Bridge is obviously ideal, we went there in the pouring rain, in a very bleak November and we just thought “imagine if that was a children’s home” and then suddenly we had a story that revealed itself to us. Same thing happened time and again, the marshes in episode four, looked really strange and exotic, kind of like the African Savannah on a good day. We decided early on that the landscape doesn’t get used enough
Q: Seeing as Hinterland is shot in Wales, with bi-lingual actors, and produced bi-lingually; would you say it’s very important that there is more bi-lingual TV released now-a-days?
A: I think it’s a pity more drama isn’t made in Wales, that is set here. There is a thriving production community in Cardiff, but not a lot of the stuff made there actually reflects us culturally. And that’s fine. A lot of that is commercial transaction rather than cultural. And I think it’s important that big organisations always check themselves, that they are reflecting the culture.
I was very curious about the choices that the producers and writer make on Hinterland and asked Ed whether the emotional turmoil that is very prevalent in most of the episodes was a deliberate decision, he responded “I think people enjoy the dark side of humanity, they like tapping into it from the safety of their armchairs know that they can switch it off at the end of the night and go to bed.”
Q: I know that Hinterland like to involve the student community in Aberystwyth, how do you think that season two is going to affected by that involvement and visa versa?
A: I would’ve loved to have had some time, whilst I was a student, being on set or in a studio. But seeing some of the pressures that people work under, a huge amount of the business is about being able to make the right decisions quickly. Needing to choose where to compromise and when to stand your ground, it’s also about being to put in very long hours, and turning up on time [laughs] and being able to do all of this with a smile on your face. I hope it’s been worthwhile for the students involved, it’s certainly been worthwhile for us. Seeing that enthusiasm, and engaging. It’d be nice to think that students and locals in Aberystwyth are proud of being part of something that is being shown in thirty odd countries.
The clear afternoon sky was dimming as I was able to perch on the Borth promenade with main actor and star of the show, Richard Harrington. It was an absolute pleasure to talk to him, and listen as he divulged in what we can expect in the second series before he had to shoot back off for another round of filming.
Q: Tom Mathias is a very complex character, he’s quite mysterious. When we’re introduced to him in season one he doesn’t reveal much about himself, but as we follow his story we do find out more about his back story; do we get to see more of that in season two?
A: Yes, we do. I mean we can’t tantalise people with a glimpse of a past and not have any foundation for it whatsoever. It’s frustrating sometimes as an actor who has helped create this character, I know so much about him, I know that there is a back story that is steeped in history. It’s not random, it’s very particular – strategic. It’s frustrating for me sometimes, that we don’t reveal any of it. I guess it’s up to the producers to do that. I think as we go on, his story needs to come more into the foreground, and that’s what we’re doing. Certainly in the second series there is a huge revelation of why he is, who he is, and that’s when you’re going to create a seismic shift in perception. Once you reveal something, you can’t then hide that. It has to be dealt with. Or it’s up to the audience to decided what kind of person he is now, now that they know this information.
Q: Hinterland is a detective series and it delves into very dark subject matters, and as I was watching – as a drama student – I couldn’t help but analyse the choices made; that being that Hinterland explores very emotionally heavy situations. How was that for both you as an actor, and as Tom Mathias to react to those situations?
A: I don’t know what you’re like, but I’m an emotional chap anyway; I cry at adverts. I tend to – if I can – use the things I’ve learnt as a person and put that into the things I do. I feel with Tom, there is no way that he could be a dispassionate character, because he’s felt so much in his life, that it could only come out in his work. The two things come hand in hand really, compassion is something that I probably brought to him, but his ability to – his brilliance, for instance – in detecting things in the way that he does, is something that was orchestrated beyond me. That was something that the writers put together. I think that ultimately to create a compassionate detective is quite unique, you don’t really see that. He is a character that definitely gets affected by the cases that he works on, it’s very seldom that they show when they reveal who the “bad guy” is, you don’t necessarily hate them.
I personally will be itching with anticipation for the second series of Y Gwyll/Hinterland. If you haven’t had your fill of the cast and crew of Hinterland; ASM’s very own Aled Humphreys (Welsh Officer) and Ryan Owens (Tech Manager) were lucky enough to grab an interview with Gethin Scourfield and guest actress Kasha Bajor, which you’ll find online at www.aberstudentmedia.com.
Photos by Tomos Nolan.