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Yma O Hyd

Manon, is a lonely child, nicknamed ‘mental’ by other children and labelled ‘a waste of space’ by an abusive stepfather, she escapes her abusive reality through her inner fantasy where her only friend is the ‘imaginary’ Mari Lwyd, a skeletal human/horse hybrid from Welsh myth. Like all Welsh fairies, the Mari Lwyd can be a friend or a terror if not properly placated. Manon sees, sings and speaks to the Mari Lwyd during particularly stressful moments, further convincing her antagonists she is unstable. 


The story opens with a childhood memory of Manon’s; her stepfather has taken her and her dog into the wilds, the dog has angered him. To punish the dog and teach Manon a lesson he drowns the dog in a frozen lake. Manon’s fractured emotional journey starts there. We cut to Manon alone in a school yard in the run up to Christmas. Antagonised by other children she drifts between reality and her inner fantasies with the Mari Lwyd. Teachers have no sympathy for her as she’s seen as a problem.


Her mother, Gwen, is called to school to face an inept teacher who blames Manon for being bullied and asks question about her home life. Gwen fears reporting this to her abusive husband. When Manon and her mother return home, her stepfather has heard from school about Manon 'playing up' at school. As a punishment he is burning her treasured scrapbook of fairy stories and photos important to her. That night Manon is led from her bed by the Mari Lwyd to retrieve the flickering embers of her burnt scrapbook. Back in her bedroom the smouldering book, hidden under her bed, sparks back to life. The smoke filled bedroom dissolves to Manon and the Mari Lwyd drifting in a skiff, from reality, on a misty lake. They drift away to fade as distant sirens underscore the scene.


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The short will be a stand-alone short film in its own right but will also serve as a proof of concept for a feature length production that continues Manon and Gwen’s story. Our short will serve as a compelling proof of concept for our longer term aim to continue Manon and Gwen’s stories in a feature film. The short showcasing the core themes, characters, and visual style. Through this concise narrative, we aim to captivate investors and stakeholders, illustrating the potential of our concept and the quality of our filmmaking, ultimately securing the necessary funding to bring our full-length vision to life.

The short consists of the opening scenes of the feature which follows directly on from the fire Manon accidentally sets in her family home.

The themes of domestic abuse, unrecognised neurodiversity and escape into Welsh mythology are explored in greater depth to create a compelling fantasy drama with that will appeal both to general audiences and those looking for something with more depth.

The Short


Our film addresses two globally trending themes; ADHD and Emotional Abuse, and strategically aligns with peak viewing trends; Christmas and fantasy/drama.


Driven by social media trends (20 billion views on TikTok for #ADHD) and high profile individuals disclosing diagnosis as adults public interest in ADHD is currently massive. However there are very few, if any, mainstream films about the inner world of a child with ADHD.


Awareness of subtle forms of emotional abuse, (#gaslighting 3.4 billion views on TikTok, billions more for other emotional abuse hashtags) has significantly increased in recent years. The growing recognition of this issue highlights the timeliness and relevance of our narrative.


Our project resonates with trending, and increasing, global discussions. We are positioned for major success just on the social issues we cover.



Our case study, fantasy/drama set during Christmas, demonstrates the marketability of that genre, we will also benefit from the longevity of Christmas-focused content. 'Rare Exports' doubled its return in year one of release and continues to generate substantial income annually through streaming platforms and DVD sales.


Other UK Independent Christmas films have produced even better returns. The Nativity 2009 had a budget of £1.8 million but grossed over £8 million on release and continues to return profit annually on mainstream media and streaming services.


Although there have been notable global successes with Welsh language films and drama in the last few years, our strategic decision to minimize Welsh-specific elements ensures that our narrative remains accessible to a broad, international audience.


Our project not only aligns with current societal and cinematic trends but also offers a data-backed opportunity to diversify and grow within the entertainment industry. Industry statistics underscore the compelling nature of our project and its potential to deliver substantial returns while contributing to essential dialogues in contemporary society.

Themes, Relevance and Audience potential

A True Story

Eight years old, distant and detached, Manon has an undiagnosed neurodiversity (Autism, ADHD, Synaesthesia).


Due to being quiet and, mostly, compliant Manon is typical of the many girls who aren't diagnosed. Instead she is seen as weird, lazy or 'away with the fairies'. Dismissed by teachers, bullied by peers, emotionally abused by her step-father, Manon has developed her own inner life to escape. Her only positive relationship in reality is with her mother, Gwen, with whom she converses freely, but only in her first language, Welsh. As a result her mother misses Manon's difficulties in life and her step-father, who has no Welsh, sees this as a defiance of his authority.  ​

Manon, like many neurodiverse children, has a hyper fixation. She is deeply engrossed by Welsh mythology to the point where she believes she has a connection with the 'other world' of the Tylwyth Teg. During stressful moments she escapes reality to seek support from her companion, the Mari Lwyd.​ This pagan mid-winter apparition has uncertain connections to old myths of death and re-birth. In Welsh fairy lore the other folk are sometimes friends but also have a very sinister side. Manon's inner life with the Mari Lwyd, whilst providing her with comfort, also compounds her isolation from the real world and leads to real world problems.​

Manon's difficulties with social interaction, communication, and sensory processing make it hard for her to navigate the 'real' world. Her sensitivity to light, sound, and touch often lead to sensory overload and meltdowns, which further isolate her from her peers. Through her connection to Welsh mythology, she finds a way to escape the world around her and cope with the challenges of everyday life. However, as she embarks on a journey into the world of the Tylwyth Teg, Manon's grip on reality becomes increasingly tenuous, and she struggles to reconcile her inner world with the reality of the world around her.

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Similar Projects for Barrow Boy Productions

Barrow Boy Productions and its team have worked on a range of similar style productions over their careers. All the way from short fantasy films undernoted by abstract social issues, to bold dramas' highlighting strong mental health talking points. 

[Top Right] Hulderfolk - Teaming up with ISAAC WHO, Barrow boy productions supplied camera and lighting equipment for the shoot. BBP's DOP Adam also joined talented DOP Aidan Metcalfe on the camera team, and provided VFX work during post production, to help bring the mystical world to life.

[Bottom Right] Lex Vitae - Again teaming up with ISAAC WHO, BBP's DOP Adam worked closely with  the camera department to bring this dark fantasy world to life. VFX compositing was also provided by BBP to enhance this mystical world.

[Bottom Left] Wrath - A dark drama exploring the deep psychology of a man battling PTSD and the effects it has on his wife, daughter and others around him. BBP co-produced this venture alongside PK Films, and provided pre production collaboration, full production crew, full broadcast equipment package, and full post production services, seeing the production through from start to finish. Wrath was recently niminated for a handful  of awards in New York and Los Angeles, including 'best short drama' and 'best male lead'.

We aim to deliver a striking interplay of darkness, mystery, and mythical aesthetics. The film's cinematography delves deep into a grey, gritty, urban landscape, capturing its harsh textures and muted colours, which serve as a canvas for a narrative steeped in tragedy and enigma. The internalised fantasy elements are brought to life through mesmerizing visuals, sparkling rain, green and brown hues linking us to the other world of myth where ancient legends manifest in the intricate play of light and shadow.


While the world readies itself for the festive hues of Christmas, Manon is an isolated bystander to the customary vibrant palette of the holiday season for her Christmas is a glaring reminder of her own bleak life. Her bullies whirl in a world painted in bright Christmas colours, further pushing her away and blurring the line between the realms of reality and myth.


The cinematography crafts unique looks juxtaposing a grim reality with nurturing, hopeful, fantasy that challenges the traditional holiday aesthetic, taking the audience on a mesmerizing journey where the film's visuals tell a story just as compelling and mysterious as the narrative itself.

Tone and Style

Budget and Fund Raising

Each and every member of our core team is incredibly proud to call North Wales their home, and being able to provide industry opportunity to other creative professionals in our area remains incredibly important to us whenever we take on a creative venture like this. 

Given the nature of the project, and the importance of its themes, we are incredibly keen to partner with as many organizations as possible in order to bring this powerful story to life. 

Part of that partnership includes seeking  funding, both privately and publicly. 

The project is currently live on  several investor platforms, and is being prepared for a public funding  launch, but in the meantime we are also excited to be sharing the project with potential private investors too. 

Not only does this investment help bring the short film to life, but it will allow us to use the short form film as collateral to approach larger film funding networks to contribute towards turning this incredibly powerful story into a full length feature film.

Barrow Boy Productions, along with other creatives associated with the producing have already provided a generous amount  of work both on and off camera 'in kind' and will continue to do so throughout the project. 

For a comprehensive budget breakdown and investors pack, and to find out how you can help, please contact us!

Business Case Study

The three strands of our project, fantasy/drama, neurodiversity, Wales and Christmas, are all on trend currently and have a large potential domestic and global audience with extended marketable duration.

We are following a standard business model for low budget independent film with short term profitable potential and continued earnings for a considerable time.

For example, a project with very similar themes and process:


In 2003, the Finnish commercial production company, Woodpecker Films, published the short film 'Rare Exports Inc' online only.


After a positive reception from an online audience, Woodpecker Film produced a thirty minute short film ‘Rare Exports:The Official Safety Instructions' in 2005.


The full feature length production ‘Rare Exports, A Christmas Tale' was produced in 2009 and released in 2010. Production budget was an estimated £1'800'000.


Theatrical release gross in year one.

Domestic: $236,347

Europe: $'851,016

Worldwide: $4,087,363


Since then it continues to return profits, it is sold as a DVD and is streamed globally, including with major players like Amazon and Netflix.

Our producer, and director are working in partnership with a small independent production company, an independent North Wales based film and TV Production Company. We are all experienced professionals in our fields and are confident this project will lead to success. Our production plan has proven successful many times for other companies of a similar size and skill set. We have already produced a teaser short scene and are now sourcing funding for the second stage, a proof of concept.

We are following a similar production strategy to this case study but will also incorporate social media promotion, a strategy that was in it's infancy for Woodpecker. We have successfully networked with social media influencers and large Social Media groups (with particular interest in Wales and/or neurodiversity) who are set to promote our teaser scene.

We have produced a teaser scene already and are now using that as a promotional tool to building finance to take the next step of producing a thirty minute (approx) short. That short will appear in targeted film festivals in Europe and the US and be broadcast on mainstream UK media, as a short but also as a promotional tool to target larger investment for the full feature.

Our producer has well established links with providers of public funds, Ffilm Cymru and S4C, and is well positioned to seek public, Welsh, funding for a feature. We are at the brink of substantial film investment in Wales with a new collaboration between S4C and Creative Wales investing one million annually into Welsh language film.


Adam Dawson - Director of Photography

Based in North Wales, with a diverse skill set and a passion for filmmaking, Adam has has had experience in a range of departments throughout his career. From camera operating and rigging, to DOP roles and art and light departments, he has honed his expertise in creating captivating visuals. Born and Raised in the picturesque landscape of north Wales, and being a proud Welsh speaker, he deeply appreciates the local culture and heritage.

Phillip Pike - Production Sound Mixer

Phillip Pike is a freelance sound recordist, sound mixer, and boom operator based in North Wales. Phillip’s wide portfolio of work includes drama and documentary work for ITV, S4C, and Amazon Prime, as well as commercial work for GoCompare, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, and the Earthshot Prize, and corporate work for the Welsh Government, HS2, and the National Trust.

Phillip is also a freelance orchestral bassoonist, working regularly on modern and historical instruments with ensembles such as the Welsh Chamber Orchestra, 18th Century Sinfonia, and Manchester Baroque.

Paul Penlington - Producer

Our Producer/Writer Paul Penlington has a varied career.

Alongside diverse skills and experiences, Paul has a wide network of supportive contacts in many sectors and has established himself as a well-respected and versatile professional across Wales. His organizational and leadership skills have allowed him to successfully oversee and deliver complex projects across North Wales. From coordinating diverse teams and limited resources to managing budgets of hundreds of thousands of pounds in the third sector, and achieving successful projects on time and always within budget..

Paul is also a well-respected academic researching, and specialising in, Education for young people with ADHD and also has a personal interest in Welsh mythology.

Josie Connor - Director

Josie's career has included a vast number of productions in short films, music videos, TV series, feature films, documentary and commercial productions linked with companies/channels such as BFI, The Weather Channel, TikTok, BBC, ITV, PlayStation, 4oD, Virgin EMI Records and StudioCanal.

Josie became a member of the BFI Network x BAFTA crew 2021 as well as BAFTA Connect member in 2022, where she continues to build networks to further her career.

The Team

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