The Boy from Brynmawr

This month, Screen Alliance Wales was happy to invite world renowned Puppeteer, William Todd-Jones, (affectionately known as Todd) to spend a day at Coleg -Y-Cymoedd.  One hundred and twenty students were granted an ‘Audience with Todd’, who was introduced to the stage by Course Leader, Alistair Aston, and Allison Dowzell, of Screen Alliance Wales.

He delivered an inspirational talk about his career, covering everything from his start with Jim Henson on ‘Labyrinth’ to his work on ‘Batman’ with Michael Keaton, right up to Bad Wolf’s ‘His Dark Materials’.  Todd’s wealth of experience in the industry has led him to understand the importance of teamwork needed to bring a range of stories to our screens.  As he so rightly says, “You need every aspect of life to create an illusion of life.”

He also gave us a whistle-stop tour of the history of puppeteering which dates back thousands of years!  The students learned that puppets don’t have to be elaborate, as Todd stated, ‘If a piece of string works, use a piece of string’.

The students were also treated to a sneak peek of his work on His Dark Materials, Season 1.  They also got to join in with the puppeteering and Todd definitely spotted a few people who could take over his job in the future!

After a delicious lunch, served by the talented students of Coleg-Y-Cymoedd in the Nant Restaurant, Todd was ready for the afternoon.  A small group of lucky Prop Making Students were invited to a masterclass with Todd, where they were able to gain a real insight in to his journey from Brynmawr to Hollywood and back to Wales.

He then spoke individually to each student about their portfolios and was even generous enough to give them feedback and advice on their end of year projects.

It was an extremely enjoyable day for all involved and Todd was happy to be back in Wales as he is passionate about inspiring the next generation of Welsh TV talent.