Real SFX

“We completely believe we wouldn’t be where we are today if we didn’t hire apprentices” says owner of Emmy-award winning special effects company.

A BAFTA and Emmy award winning, practical special effects company based in Wales, is supporting Apprenticeship Week Wales attributing its impressive growth to apprentices.

Real SFX took on its first apprentice in 2012 after identifying a serious shortage of skilled technicians in Wales. Co-founded by Danny Hargreaves and Carmela Carrubba, the company is celebrating its 10th anniversary and now employs at least one apprentice each year. Approximately 95% of apprentices then going on to work for them on a full-time or freelance basis, on shows such as Peaky Blinders, Luther, Dr Who, His Dark Materials.

Carmela Carrubba, Real SFX Company Director said: “When we first moved from London and started the business in Cardiff we struggled to find a local special effects crew. The creative industry in Wales was growing fast and we found it extremely hard to keep up with the demand for special effects, considering all our crew came from outside Wales, resulting in added costs for travel and hotel bills.

“So, we then decided to look for passionate people who we could train up to get the specific skills we needed. We work closely with Sgil Cymru to deliver the apprenticeship and supplement the skills with in-house training including rig-building, pyrotechnics, model making and welding."
“For us, apprenticeships are the most effective way to train our staff as the industry moves so quickly. Our apprentices pick up valuable skills in the workshop and on set, learning techniques that can’t be taught in the classroom."

“As a business, it’s a great investment and has enabled the company to grow and all our workforce are now local crew. With the team and apprentices, we now can do multiple productions compared to only one previously.”

The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with the support of the European Social Fund.

Dan Snelling, 20 from Newport is a current apprentice at Real SFX studying Creative Digital Media level 4. He said: “I was thinking about going to university, but I wanted to get as much experience as possible, so I looked into an apprenticeship. I have friends who have gone to university who haven’t been on set at all yet and I was in the thick of it from day one."

“For me an apprenticeship has given me a real taster of the job and I’ve also been able to meet a lot of people in the industry. It’s very common for people to work on a freelance basis, so building up my contacts will be really beneficial once I’ve qualified in the future."

“I get such a great sense of achievement seeing our work on the TV, I’ve worked on Luther, Dr Who and the new series of Peaky Blinders and I love sitting and watching it with my friends, saying that’s our work!”

Carmela continued: “We’ve also seen a huge boost in morale for the other staff members. They enjoy passing on their skills and it also pushes them to up their game. We completely believe we wouldn’t be where we are today if we didn’t hire apprentices.”

Minister for economy and transport, Ken Skates said: “Apprenticeship Week Wales is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the alternative routes into employment available to young people across the country. As we can see, apprenticeships are clearly well regarded by our learners, but also businesses that are using apprenticeships as solutions to skills shortages and recruitment. 
“Apprenticeships are a key investment for employers and a great way to tailor an employee’s skillsets to carefully meet the demands of a business and nurturing the talent of Wales as a whole.”

To find out how your business could benefit from recruiting an apprentice, visit Skills Gateway for Business at  or call 03000 6 03000.

Also visit FaceBook or Twitter, and follow the story using the hashtag #AWWales.

EU funds in Wales

The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Programme Checklist EU funds in Wales
Delivery Area All Wales
European Social Fund
Status  Live
Supported by the European Social Fund? Yes
Programme Lead

Welsh Government