The first time I went to the cinema was to see Teen Wolf in Brecon

That and Karate Kid 2 are two films I remember clearly from my childhood. My friends and I used to pretend we were doing a remake of Fist of Fury or Big Trouble in Little China. I had aspirations of being an actor – I wanted to be Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee.

Gareth Evans directs crew on the set of Apostle
Gareth Evans directs crew on the set of Apostle

When I left university, I had the wild idea of heading to Hollywood

Instead, I ended up doing a nine-to-five job in Cardiff making educational CD ROMs. But I was making the odd video too, and my boss was very supportive of my filmmaking ambitions - allowing me to take a few months off so I could make my first feature film, which was self-funded.

I drew on my experience of leaving Wales when we were making Merantau

The film deals with a young guy who is leaving home to ply his trade in Jakarta, trying to make a name for himself. He would talk emotionally about missing his brother, and I drew upon that, because my brother and I have always had a very close relationship.

We shot the majority of the film Apostle in Margam Park – a quiet, tranquil country estate

We had a scene with a gigantic burning crucifix – a really impressive set-up. We were doing tests of the pyrotechnics in the daylight, and literally just as we called out "Let’s place the fire on the crucifix" and ignited it, a party of schoolchildren appeared along the walkway nearby. That must have been an eye-opener for them!

The mansion, Margam Park
Margam Park

Working on Apostle with Welsh acting legend Michael Sheen was amazing

He’s got such a huge reputation globally, and within the Welsh film industry, too. He delivered in spades with his involvement in Apostle. He came to the project with his notes and just opened up the script: he made it richer and more layered. He brought an awful lot of knowledge and experience. For me, as a film-maker learning my trade project by project, that was invaluable.

We have incredible mountains, valleys and hills, and an amazing coastal area as well."

There’s definitely a creative buzz in Wales

I look at Wales as a place of such unending opportunities, with studio facilities growing and becoming more available to all. I think there are so many opportunities now for up-and-coming filmmakers to be able to tell their stories here. We have incredible mountains, valleys and hills, and an amazing coastal area as well. We also have great urban cityscapes, with three major cities we can draw upon for locations. We have a lot at our disposal. It’s something [Apostle producer] Ed Talfan and I are really trying to get behind: to create a movement in filmmaking here in Wales. The hope is that further down the line, we might be able to give a graduate from one of the universities in Wales the chance to go off and make their first feature film.

Behind the scenes of Apostle
Gareth Evans directs crew on the set of Apostle

I’m forever grateful to Indonesia, but I’m home for good now

Indonesia was a wonderful time for myself and my wife. There was an inherent kindness and friendliness in people. It didn’t matter where you were, whether you were in a big, busy city area, or in one of the more rural towns. And I get exactly that same warmth and feeling whenever I come back to Wales. I was very fortunate to be able to make films out there, but part of me always wanted to return and to make something in the UK – and specifically, to make something in Wales.