The gathering of the wild mountain ponies

Monday 17 March 2014, 15:53

Luke Pavey Luke Pavey

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Luke Pavey is a producer and director for the independent television company tasked with producing The Hill Farm for BBC Cymru Wales. Over the years his work behind the camera has taken him all over the world, from Afghanistan to Australia, but for this project it was the wilds of north Wales that would be the focus of Luke’s work. 

I already knew Gareth Wyn Jones and his family from a previous production and in early 2013 we got the go ahead for The Hill Farm. A year in the life of the Jones family and their farm, a year of chasing Gareth up and down mountains, a year of coming home smelling like a farmyard, but thankfully a year of Rhian Jones’s roast dinners. 

The Hill Farm production team with Gareth Wyn Jones and his sheepdog Cap The Hill Farm production team with Gareth Wyn Jones and his sheepdog Cap.

Filming The Hill Farm was certainly not without its technical challenges. For starters we were using a relatively new camera that was better suited to a studio than the Carneddau mountains. On more than one occasion the weather made filming on the slopes particularly interesting.

I remember how on one of the very first shoots as the rain started to pour I wrestled to protect the camera with its expensive cover. Eventually I gave up and used my own waterproof trousers with a few pieces of baling twine to keep the kit dry - while my legs got a drenching. 

With the weather on the mountains so changeable our battle to keep the rain out became a recurring theme on the Hill Farm shoots. On one of our last trips up to Llanfairfechan the area was battered by a severe winter storm which coincided with the last of the mountain gatherings. As the rain water poured off the slopes the sight of me wading through a fast-flowing river with a camera held high above my head proved most amusing for Gareth and the other farmers. 

The biggest challenge of all though came on the very last shoot, the gathering of the wild mountain ponies. A hundred or so wild ponies spread out over 27,000 acres of open mountain being chased by dozens of people on quad-bikes and motorcycles - we had our work cut out. Somewhere between a well-orchestrated military operation and coordinated chaos is the only way I can describe both the gathering itself and our attempts to film it. 

To capture the action we had three camera crews at various points across the Carneddau range, along with a handful of mini-cameras mounted to the vehicles - despite the best efforts of Nanny the goat trying to eat the tape holding them in place. The gatherers chased the ponies and we chased the gatherers but at the end of it everyone did their job, the ponies were successfully rounded-up and we had great final sequence for the series. 

We wanted The Hill Farm to be more than a series about farming. It is a series about how many of us have lost a connection with where our food comes from, but more than this, it is a series about a family and a way of life that has existed on the Carneddau mountains for centuries. 

We wanted all of Joneses to feature - from the youngest, Mari, to her grandfather, Roland senior. Not everyone was keen at first but as the filming progressed I think everyone got used to having the camera there and they all made a valuable contribution to the programmes. 

During the course of the year we filmed on the farm I and the others who worked alongside me got to know Gareth and his family well. They had to put up with us day after day, filming at breakfast, lunch and dinner, but they always gave us the warmest welcome and there was always a ‘paned’ on offer.

The Hill Farm starts Tuesday 18 March at 7.30pm on BBC Two Wales.

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 3.

    Hi Luke I am really enjoying "the hill farm" and I enjoyed meeting you and the crew
    The camera work is fantastic really well made.
    Roll on series 2

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1.

    There's a lovely piano piece heard towards the end of the episode that I can't seem to find! I've tried shazam, but my efforts have been to no avail. Does anybody know what it's called? Thanks

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 2.

    Glad you liked the track! We put a lot of thought into the music for the series, and there are quite a few tracks by Welsh artists. This one however is from a music library, often used in television productions. It is by a composer named Julian Thomas and it is called Valentine’s Less from the album Filmic Piano. I hope you enjoyed the programmes (and the rest of the music).

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    Thanks Pedro, glad you are enjoying the programmes. Lots of good stuff to come, sheepdog trials, Gaerwen ram sale, cows coming home over the mountain and of course the ponies. Hopefully see you all again soon!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    Hello,

    Luke - an excellent series so far, brilliant filming in very remote and inhospitable region.
    Just hope that this is shown more widely to BBC UK and maybe overseas. I run a small
    firm "Snowdonia Safaris" and both English and our European friends are amazed what
    North Wales has to offer. Even has a W Gates from the States with me last year.
    He had no concept, that a mere 4 hours from London Snowdonia is so different.
    Having a living language also helps; keep up the good work, and in future if you need
    any impartial help - just call ...Roll on your next series..

 

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