If you’re interested in the arts or hoping to turn your creative hobby into a full time gig, you must meet Rhiannon Bannenberg. After studying a Masters in Music Composition and directing two Feature Films, Rhiannon has a career anyone would be proud of – but it’s not what she has done that makes her an inspirational role model for teen girls – it’s how she thinks, works and how responds to any challenge thrown her way.
What made you pick up your camera, with no technical experience, and film Ambrosia?
Well the truthful answer was necessity. When the time came, I needed someone to film and I happened to be available. In the end, I directed, wrote, composed, filmed and edited the film, and that’s when I really fell in love with cinematography. Having had no filming experience, it did require bravery, but I was also young and excited and I felt I had a story to tell. My friends were around to help and inspire me, and together, we told a story we thought was important. With the support of great friends, it all became possible.
Also, when you haven’t done something before, naivety gives you confidence. I didn’t have the fear and in turn we had a lot of freedom. I look back on it very fondly and I encourage all young girls to pick up a camera, or an iPhone, and just start filming something you feel you can tell.
What has been the hardest thing you have had to deal with throughout your career?
I’ve always been a confident person even as a child, and I always knew what I wanted, and how I liked things – which always gave me the boost to get started and to just begin. But as I went on, and the stakes got higher, I started working with other people and I guess there have been a few times where I have doubted myself – which was hard for me to recognise coming from a confident background.
I always had so much support out there, and I was doing well, and yet I still doubted myself. I actually think a lot of it came from not having female role models doing what I wanted to do. It’s only now that I have met some incredible women, and men as well, that are doing what I am doing – and it gives me these great examples of what is possible and achievable. I now understand the power of having a role model. Having even just one example of someone similar to you, doing what you want to do, can go an incredibly long way in your own confidence, and this is why I am truly so passionate about FUEL.
Here at Girl Shaped Flames we have been asked a lot about if we should be encouraging girls to have a Plan B, did you ever get any of this pressure from you own parents?
I was always encouraged to get an education and formal training, that is to finish school and go to university. But outside of that, I was never pushed to have a ‘Plan B’ as such. I’m very lucky in that my parents always knew, and supported, that I was going to do something creative. Even as a kid I started making music and movies all the time, so my parents understood that it was my passion and they didn’t try to sway me. But, they did expect me to at least go to university and get that formal education.
Now, after having followed that path, I am a huge advocator for the education you get at Uni. In the end, regardless of the degree, it still teaches you to be tenacious, to work hard and toward deadlines, plus you learn how to work with people and manage expectations. There are so many skills that you will use for years to come, even if you switch industries. I think it’s important for girls to just do what you can at the time to work towards your goals – and whatever you do for those first 3-4 years, even if it’s not where you end up, it’s by no means ‘wasted’! It’s just part of the journey. There are a billion-and-one ways to get to Plan A.
Do you have any comments about the current climate in Hollywood, and the stories coming out at the moment?
It goes without saying that I am horrified, but unfortunately I’m not surprised. It’s very important to have this transparency and accountability, but it’s even more important that we don’t deter young girls. We would be doing a disservice if we frighten them and it would be a tragedy to lose female talent from the industry because of this. So now it’s very important for those of us in the industry to create a safer environment for the next generation, and the responsibility falls on both men AND women. We absolutely need to make it safer for the next generation.
Is there something you know now that you wish you knew as a teen?
Yes! … The feelings you have as you grow up, feelings of anxiety, fear, nervousness – whether it’s an exam or a job interview etc – don’t let them consume you. Don’t EVER let them stop you from doing something. Instead, let it be an indicator that you’re about to do something you need to do. You don’t have to love that feeling, I certainty don’t, but it is always an indicator that you’re moving forward, and that is a great thing. It is simply your body trying to tell you that something good is happening – and you can use it to fuel you.
Image: Rhiannon Bannenberg on the set of Rip Tide.