South East Wales

The Raid director Gareth Huw Evans says film hit was 'Plan B' project

The Welsh director of critically-acclaimed action thriller The Raid has spoken of how it was born out of his frustration in getting another film made.

Gareth Huw Evans, who also wrote the martial arts film's screenplay, is from the Cynon Valley but has lived in Indonesia for four years.

The Raid gets its UK premiere on Wednesday.

Evans told BBC Wales it was a "Plan B" after struggles with another film.

The Hirwaun-born film-maker also said his young daughter was helping keep his feet on the ground.

"I get helped a lot by my little every time I get back from a trip and I want to tell my wife stuff then she's always telling me to be quiet so we can watch Peppa Pig instead," he said.

"That kind of keeps me grounded."

Evans, who now lives in Indonesia, graduated from the University of Glamorgan with a MA in Scriptwriting for Film and Television.

But his career was slow to start.

"I'd always wanted to be in the film industry in the UK but I didn't really push myself to get myself noticed.

Image caption The film is set in the slums of Jakarta

"I made a few short films and I made a low budget feature film here but I didn't really do enough to kind of get my foot in the door and I ended up drifting back to my nine-to-five, my regular job."

But his wife, who is Indonesian-Japanese, stepped in and "put a call in" and managed to get her husband a job directing a documentary in Indonesia.

While making the documentary, Evans met Iko Uwais, who went on to take the lead roll in The Raid.

The film, Evans' third, brings the Indonesian traditional martial art, Pencak Silat, to world cinema.

It is set in the slums of Jakarta and the film's main focus and setting is an impenetrable 30 floor apartment block, a safe house that is home to some of the city's most hardened criminals.

"The Raid was a Plan B project for us, we wanted to do a different film first...but we couldn't get the budget in place and we tried for a year-and-a-half and just couldn't get it off the ground.

Image caption The Raid was written and directed by Gareth Huw Evans, who is from Hirwaun in the Cynon Valley

"And so The Raid was born out of all those frustrations of not doing anything for so long. And so it leant itself to that thing of we're going to come at the audience really hard, really fast and make something super aggressive," he said.

Evans explained the challenge behind such high energy scenes.

"Our approach during filming was not to acknowledge what we were doing was difficult...that we were on a low budget so we can't do this," he said.

"Let's think of a creative way where we can still have this big moment of action with pyrotechnics or whatever, but let's make it work, let's not limit ourselves what the budget will afford us."

Growing up in Hirwaun, Evans and his friends used to talk about remaking movies.

"When I was nine I wrote my first little script and it was terrible and thank God none of us had a video camera so there's no evidence of this.

"But it was a good experience, they were good friends and we all had little pipe dreams," he said.

In 2011, Evans won the Midnight Madness Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

On Wednesday evening, 10 cinemas will simultaneously screen the film across Wales.

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