A former Bradon Forest pupil is making her way in the tough and uncertain world of theatre, film and television, which, for her, has been full of surprises and possibilities.
Rhian Rees, 25, who attended Brook Field primary in her younger days, has just returned from Germany, working with a mostly French speaking crew filming a French period drama Confession of a Child of the Century. However the film is played in English with a cast that includes Pete Doherty, Charlotte Gainsbourg and supermodel Lily Cole.
“It’s amazing how things can suddenly take you in a different direction,” said Rhian. “I had come back to Europe after several months in America and was working in a Shakespeare bookshop in Paris when my agent asked me to attend an audition for the film. I had been such a fan of The Libertines and to work with Pete was incredible. He and Lily seemed very gentle in person. It was a pleasure to work with such warm people, they are real artists.”
Rhian admits that she didn’t enjoy drama at school but had been a member of Swindon Young Actors. “I remember being a shy observer of what was going on around me. It would have been good to know there were different avenues into theatre and drama; it wasn’t until I went to Cirencester College that I started to see where my interest in writing could take me.”
She went onto a film studies degree at Roehampton University where she majored in creative writing. This was followed by a young writers course at London’s Royal Court Theatre.
“It was an amazingly intense few months studying play writing with experienced established practitioners,” said Rhian. “My only experience had been shows for my sisters to perform in for our parents at home.
"How you get into writing for stage and screen is a hard question to answer because there is no right or wrong way. There is no template to guarantee success, you have to discover it for yourself, that’s the point. Of course there are a load of workshops and writing circles you can get involved in but the most important thing is to keep writing to discover your own voice. One or two people who believe in you will also go a long way."
Whilst at the Royal Court Rhian was encouraged to attend drama school, but she went to Los Angeles in 2010 where she secured a US agent and managed to have a couple of her plays performed before her visa ran out and she returned to Paris. She had originally gone to Los Angeles to visit friends and thought she had better try and get some work here if I wanted to keep coming back.
She is currently working on a short film in New York with some film students.
“It’s been a twisting turning career so far but I cannot think of doing anything different,” said Rhian. “Looking back, anybody who wants to pursue a career in theatre has to have a deep commitment. Don’t expect everything to go smoothly and it will be really hard work.”
• Confession of a Child of the Century is an autobiographical tale by Musset dramatising his celebrated love affair with George Sand, which lasted from 1833 to 1835. The film is set to be released at the end of this year.