It was during the pandemic lockdown that Non Haf, who trained as an actor, decided that her future lay behind the camera rather than in front of it and, having moved swiftly from researching and assistant producing, she is now on the ScreenSkills Step Up to Line Producer Programme with production company Ceidiog. Between acting work Non had sporadically taken jobs with Ceidiog as a runner but when she decided to make the jump into production, “Ceidiog gave me the opportunity,” she says.
Non worked as an assistant producer on the first series of Bex, a Welsh-language children's series (made for S4C) that deals with mental health issues. “I had worked with Ceidiog on children's content – researching and casting - and I had done lots of children's theatre as an actor, so when Ceidiog got the commission for Bex, it seemed like quite a good combination.
“I was brought on to the show initially to go to schools looking for children to be part of the project, and my role evolved.”
Nia Ceidiog, the company's founder, suggested Non apply to the ScreenSkills Step Up programme as its aim is to support new line producers working in children’s TV. The training programme combines job related training with a paid production placement so after completing the training, Non gained a placement on the second series of the show, which starts pre-production in January 2023.
Non grew up in a Welsh-speaking home in rural North Wales near Denbigh and studied acting at the Royal College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, where she has lived ever since.
In the past few years she has seen the TV industry expand in Wales - “not just as a location” - and lots of production companies are springing up too, so ScreenSkills programmes are playing a vital role.
“There has been a massive influx of productions coming into Wales in the last few years and it's really important that we're able to provide people to work on those productions, and retain them,” Non says. “We need to continue to invest in people and make sure we have everything that a production needs to come here.”
There's also “an ecosystem here of Welsh-language productions which doesn't function on the same level financially as the big productions, so we need to be able to make that work and retain Welsh-speaking crew”.
She believes that having a Welsh-speaking crew is particularly important in Welsh-language children's TV and says that most people working on Bex speak Welsh: “That fully Welsh-speaking environment was really important to the atmosphere on set.”
Non has done other ScreenSkills training – including Get the Knowledge: Essentials of working with under-18s – which she found “really useful”. Alan Fairholme, who ran the training course Non attended as part of Step Up to Line Producer programme also offers mentoring support and Non mentions is “someone that I can turn to”. She is grateful to Nia Ceidiog too. “From the start we've worked closely together,” she says.
Non's Step Up to Line Producer training is funded by the Children’s TV Skills Fund, thanks to contributions from the industry. It aims to address skills gaps and shortages, build a more inclusive workforce and to help people get in and move up within children's TV . “That support is hugely important because for small companies there isn't necessarily the money there to fund training. The fact that it was funded is a huge, huge help to small companies that are trying to upskill the people they want to keep onboard.”
Non says she doesn't have a five-year plan for her career, but wants to continue in children's TV – “It's definitely the field I want to stay in."
“It's been a great opportunity here to develop those skills I have. I'm a novice but I'll be able to build on those skills for the second series of Bex, as part of the Step Up to Line Producer programme. It's great I've been given this chance.”