Euros Lyn studied drama at Manchester University and worked as an assistant director before directing the multi-BAFTA winning rebooted Doctor Who, including the Hugo award winning The Girl In The Fireplace. He has won BAFTA Cymru Best Director several times, most recently for Kiri with Sarah Lancashire.
Euros directed Fifteen Million Merits, part of the Black Mirror anthology for channel 4 which won an International Emmy for Best Drama Series. He directed three episodes of the opening season of Broadchurch, two seasons of Last Tango in Halifax, the pilot episode of Happy Valley and the single drama Damilola, Our Loved Boy, all four shows winning BAFTA awards.
In 2015 he was the recipient of Bafta Cymru’s Sian Phillips award. The Library Suicides, a Welsh language thriller for BFI/ Film Cymru Wales/S4C/BBC Films/ Soda Pictures was released in theatres in August 2016.
Recently he directed an episode of His Dark Materials for BBC/HBO and is currently in post-production on Dream Horse, a feature film starring Toni Collette, Damian Lewis and Owen Teale for Film4/Warner Bros/Bleecker Street for release in 2020.
When did you know you wanted to be a director?
Even as a child I was directing my friends and brother, playing out stories, acting out fantastical adventures around our village in North Wales. In secondary school I became interested in drama, which I studied at Manchester University. I was the worst actor in the world, never had the focus and self-discipline to write, (am a bit bossy by nature) and I thought I might like to direct. The movies I saw during that time inspired me to want to direct films – Goodfellas, Poison, Fargo, Pulp Fiction, Festen, Magnolia… As a viewer, I was seduced by cinema, for two hours it was like living someone else’s life, I got to see the world through their eyes, to feel their emotions. As a director I was excited by the inverse – that I could share my stories with an audience and make them feel what I felt for my characters.
Once you knew you wanted to pursue a career as a director, what where your first steps in achieving this goal?
After graduating from Manchester I got a place on a post-graduate directing film course at NYU but couldn’t raise the money for the fees. Thwarted, I moved home to Wales to live with my parents (to whom I’m so grateful for their unstinting support) and wrote to every person I could think of asking if they had any work experience for an aspiring director. Of the hundreds of letters, only one person replied offering a job, a Welsh director called Karl Francis, and I became a runner on a crazy, inspired series for ITV called Judas and The Gimp. I learned so much as a production runner – making tea, driving actors to set, stopping traffic, learning what everyone’s jobs were. At the same time, I was developing short film ideas that I would direct; one of which received a production award from the Welsh Screen Agency that was shown at festivals and became my calling card to producers and agents.
What obstacles or setbacks did you face in becoming a director?
One of my first interviews was with a sleazy producer/director who suggested I take a job as his houseboy, offering me work in exchange for sex. I remember laughing at the ridiculousness of the proposition and left the meeting, indignant and unemployed.
Every director faces climbing a cliff face at the beginning of their careers: No-one will offer you a job until you’ve proven yourself by making something, but how do you get that first opportunity to make something? You have to make a producer believe that you can tell a story with an inspired grasp of tone and style, that looks wonderful with great performances, on schedule and on budget. Whilst I was making shorts, I worked as a runner/Assistant director on TV drama and got to know directors, producers, script editors, line producers, and I would tell them all that I wanted to direct. After a few years, a lovely producer called Geraint Morris was looking for a middle-block director for a kids drama and asked to meet me; I pitched and got the job.
I’ve been directing a long time and have had the great privilege of making work that struck a chord with the audience. I’ve also made stuff that disappeared without trace. When you’re on a creative journey you have to take risks and the one guarantee is that not everything will succeed. I think one of the reasons I’m still working is because when things didn’t go so well, I stubbornly stuck at it. The other reason is that I’ve got a wonderful agent who sees the big picture (you need a good agent that understands you and what you want to make).
How did you develop your voice and hone your craft?
When I was a runner/AD I watched how directors worked, how they talked to their HoDs, their actors, their producers. I also spent some time in the rehearsal room of a stage production, watching how the famed theatre director Peter Gill talked to his actors. I read books, watched films, stole ideas. But nothing can compete with directing your own stuff, learning what works, berating oneself for the things that don’t and spending the edit trying to fix them… (this never goes away).
Early on in my career I directed series television where the casting, style, tone and production model was inherited from others and my job was to fit in with those choices and tell the story in as engaging, inventive and surprising a way as I could without upsetting the applecart. Eventually, opportunities came my way to direct single films and set-up series from scratch, which gave me the creative freedom to find my voice, a journey I’m still on.
How did you get your first break?
Building relationships with people in the industry changed things for me. Sending links/copies of your short are shots in the dark; someone random producer might watch your film and recognise your talent… but having that personal connection makes an enormous difference. If someone’s met you and liked you, it’s really hard for them to refuse to watch your film and meet you for a 15-minute chat about it. Some genius directors, like Steven Spielberg, leave film school with an amazing graduation film then direct Jaws at 26. Other directors (like me) grind away, creating work when we can, getting to know people, learning the craft of directing from the talented and smart people we meet along the way. And then one day, we actually get to direct and share what’s inside of us with the world.
TV Credits: Belonging (2000), A Mind to Kill (2002), Casualty (2002-2003), Cutting It (2004), All About George (2005), Jane Hall (2006), Inspector George Gently (2007), Fairy Tales (2008), Phoo Action (2008) Torchwood (2009), Doctor Who (2005-2010), Sherlock (2010), Upstairs Downstairs (2010), Black Mirror (2011), Broadchurch (2013), Last Tango in Halifax (2012-2013), Happy Valley (2014), Gracepoint (2014), Cucumber (2015), Capital (2015), Daredevil (2015-2016), Damilola, Our Beloved Boy (2016), Let the Right One In (2017), Kiri (2018), His Dark Materials (2019).
Film Credits: The Library Suicides (2016), Dream Horse (2020).
Photograph: Ben Blackall