Welsh actor and writer Tom Cullen has made his debut behind the camera – with the promise of more films shot in the landscape he grew up in.
Cullen, 34, who played Viscount Gillingham in Downton Abbey, returned to the Elan Valley in Powys to film Pink Wall.
Shot in only nine days, the film is a love story about Jenna and Leon, two Americans living in Wales.
“It meant everything to me to shoot in Wales,” the London-based actor said,
Cullen, who was born in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, and brought up in Llandrindod Wells, Powys, tells the story of a relationship spanning six years.
“It is essentially six scenes from each year of this relationship – we watch as it’s born and go on its ups and downs,” he said.
“Wales is the background to the film, so you get the immediacy of an argument they’re having, set against the backdrop of these mountains in the Elan valley, which have always been there and will always be there.
“There’s something beautiful about this monolithic reminder that your life is completely inconsequential.”
Cullen wrote the story but also got the chance to direct it due to a three-month window in his acting schedule.
“It was an experimental passion project which I didn’t intend to make but it’s become the thing I’m most proud of,” he said.
Cullen said the success of Pink Wall had given him the appetite for telling more stories in Wales, where he admits he feels more relaxed and where “my shoulders drop an inch”.
He’s now writing a film about the mid Wales farming community and another story set in the same area about a child going through his parent’s divorce.
“For some reason all of the stories that come out of me are set in Wales or about Wales. I’ve always been passionately Welsh and I guess I feel it’s slightly under represented in mainstream media.
“I am really hungry about telling Welsh stories from inside Wales but hopefully on a global scale.”
Who is Tom Cullen?
1985: Born in Aberystwyth, brought up in Llandrindod Wells and, from the age of 12, Cardiff, where he went to Llanishen High School
2009: Graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
2011: Won Most Promising Newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards for Weekend
2014: Appeared as Tony Foyle, Viscount Gillingham, in Downtown Abbey
2017: Starring role as Knights Templar leader Landry du Lauzon in series Knightfall
2019: Pink Wall is released. Reviews include – “Cullen has crafted two roles that would be any performer’s dream,” “Cullen comes across as a confident and stylish filmmaker” and “Under Tom Cullen’s sensitive, empathetic direction, this deeply felt picture never loses sight of its people.”