A DIRECTOR from Pontypool has seen his first short film get picked up by Amazon Prime.

A Dead Canary is set in the Welsh valleys in the 1950s, and focuses on a fairy-tale crazed young boy who battles between fantasy and reality when coming to terms with his father’s death in the coal mines.

The film picked up the Best Student Short Drama at the Royal Television Society West and won the NAHEMI Creative Filmmaking Award 2019, as well as winning Best Short Film Based in Wales at the Wales International Film Festival in 2019.

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It was almost entirely shot in Blaenavon, as writer and director James Davis has a family connection to the town on his mother’s side.

“It’s nice to finally have it somewhere it can be seen,” said Mr Davis. “We finished it just before Summer 2019 and it went off to some film festivals in late-2019 and early 2020.

“We were trying to figure out how people could see it.”

The film’s main character is played by local youngster Charlie Thould.

“We spent ages trying to find the right actor for it,” said Mr Davis. “We held auditions for a long time. We auditioned actors from outside of Wales, but luckily Charlie came along, who I think lives only 10 minutes away from where we were shooting.

“It was quite easy as he’s quite imaginative in that way. He was fine with improvisation and having that whimsical nature that the character had. I think he’s going to go and do well.”

The film is shot in black and white, and Mr Davis said this was always how he envisaged telling this story.

“The black and white was there right from the beginning,” he said. “It wasn’t anything to do with the period, but with my connection to Blaenavon. I always saw it through this black and white lens.

“Me and Charlotte [Murphy], our cinematographer, were looking at old black and white photos of the miners, and we decided to try and recreate that.”

Mr Davis is now working on his next film, and said he hopes to tell more Welsh stories on screen.

“This was my first proper short. We all learned so much from it of what we were capable of doing.

“Back then it was about me realising I wanted to make films about where I am from. Since coming back from university, I realised that’s all I want to do. There’s so many stories in Wales – the local tales and mythology.

“It’s strange that not many people are making films like that in Wales. But there’s not as much funding for films in Wales so it does come with some difficulties.”

The project was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, which raised around £3,500.

“We had one studio set in Cheltenham,” said Mr Davis. “Then we moved everyone over to Griffithstown where I live. We shot all the outside shots on the Blorenge and then we shot around the ironworks and Big Pit.

“It was fun, but it was also hard work. We were only a small crew and at times it felt like we had bitten off more than we could chew. While we were shooting it was right in the middle of a storm.”

A Dead Canary is available to watch on Amazon Prime now.