Welsh thriller The Library Suicides: one actor, two roles.
Welsh director Euros Lyn has worked on some of the biggest crime TV shows, including Sherlock, Happy Valley and Broadchurch. Upon the release of his debut film, The Library Suicides, he discusses shooting the revenge thriller in his native language…
How did you get involved with a film adaptation of Fflur Dafydd’s bestselling Welsh-language novel, Y Llyfrgell?
Fflur contacted me. She was thinking about turning it into a film, which I was really excited by because she had written something that was very cinematic in the first place. So we were soon trying to work out how to condense her epic, sprawling novel — with its many characters, set across a long timespan — into something as succinct as a movie.
In the film, Catrin Stewart plays the twins, Ana and Nan – technically, how difficult was it to shoot that?
There’s the technical challenge, especially on a tight budget, of having the same actor playing two characters within a single shot. Essentially, you’re gluing together two takes with an invisible seam down the middle. But actually the hardest thing is for the actor. Catrin had to play these twin sisters who, though they’re genetically identical, are – in terms of character – profoundly different to one another. So when you’re shooting, you do three takes with her playing Ana, and then she has about two minutes to put herself into a very different mindset, to do a take as the other character.
How important was it to secure the actual location of the story, the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth?
Well, without it we wouldn’t have had a film. Fflur wrote the novel while she was studying for her PHD, sat at the desks in the National Library of Wales. All the places she wrote about in the novel are real parts of the Library.
After we finished the script, we took it to the library and said, “This is film we’d like to make. Can you let us in there? And by the way we have no money, what do you think?” They were absolutely fantastic. They gave us pretty much the run of the place. There are an incredible number of precious things in there, so to have a big, clumsy, oafish film crew stomping about… bless them! In the film, we have certain scenes of, shall we say, destruction, so that had to be negotiated very delicately. No smoke!
Your TV work includes Sherlock,
Doctor Who and Broadchurch. Was your debut film different in scale?
Television in Britain is incredibly well supported. It has a fantastic infrastructure and the scale of the television we make is enormous. It sells to the whole world – we make stuff that everyone wants to watch. Shooting a film like this, in just three weeks… even though the story is epic, and it contains great, grand drama, the resources that we had were relatively limited. So there was a change but it was the opposite of what most people would have expected.
Is it important that films like this are made in the Welsh language?
Welsh is my first language – it’s the language I was brought up to speak, it’s the language I speak at home with my partner, it’s my culture. If we hadn’t made this in Welsh, it would be a profoundly different film. I think we say things in the film that could never, ever be said in another language. And that’s very important.
“IF WE HADN’T MADE IT IN WELSH, IT WOULD BE PROFOUNDLY DIFFERENT”
Director Euros Lyn ( far left) on-set.
“No smoke!” Catrin Stewart ( Doctor Who,
Misfits) plays the twins.
The Library Suicides is now available on DVD.