Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Filmmaker Ben Proulx

What is the current project you are working on?


How do you measure success?

I think if you ever have a dream in your head, and you find yourself living that dream, you are successful in that moment.  The more you have had to work for that dream, the greater your success is.

How do you handle rejection?

If you are trying to do something even slightly out of the ordinary, rejection happens very often.  Being aware that rejection is a normal part of the experience of “doing” has been an important part of achieving my goals up to this point.  Cynics are everywhere, and sometimes you get caught up with the idea that they might have a point.  But with life being so short and full of opportunities, the only way to see the world is with an open mind.  Cynics are close-minded people; they have not seen the world.  Never let anyone who hasn’t seen the world prevent you from seeing the world.

Did you always want to be a filmmaker?

I’ve always wanted to do something creative, and I’ve always wanted to work with people.  I really started to focus on film in high school, when I realized that film was a way to do both.

What inspired you to become filmmaker?

I think it was Mr. Rogers who had this great quote about your imagination being something that you can exercise, like a muscle.  When I was a little kid, the first thing I ever said I wanted to do was act.  I would play with my action figures and create scenes in my head all of the time.  I had a close friend who owned a bunch of plastic battle gear, and we would go into the woods and play out all kinds of elaborate imaginary battles.  I think when a lot of people grow up, they are taught to stop using their imaginations and focus on the “real world”.  My parents taught me the opposite.  I was constantly encouraged to never lose my “childhood imagination”.  In following this rule, I found my self making friends and surrounding myself with similar-minded people- creative people.  Every close friend I’ve had growing up has been my partner in creativity, and that’s what was always fun: making music, taking photos, building websites, and of course, making movies.  I have been surrounded by amazing, talented people my entire life.  They have all inspired me in some way.  I recently handed Steven Spielberg a note, in which I thanked him for inspiring me.  But really, my close friends and family deserve to know that they have all inspired me, really, more than he has.

What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to make it in the movie business?

You can do anything.  Anything you want.  All you have to do is do it.  It’s very simple, actually.  Do it.  My friend and business partner has wanted to make friends with Richard Branson his whole life- it has always been a dream of his.  Recently, he started telling everyone about his dream.  He put it into the universe.  Since then (over the past month), he’s set up 3 meetings with people who personally know Richard Branson.  His dream is all of a sudden reachable.  There’s a reason for that: he’s doing.

Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become a filmmaker?

I’ve worked a few retail jobs, and I’ve had the experience of working in a warehouse.  I think it has been important for me to work a couple jobs that I absolutely hated.  Working in non-creative atmospheres has given me some extra motivation to work hard at doing the things I love to do.

How would you describe your film education?

I did study film in college, and I think all my professors would agree with me when I say that film school is what you do with it.  The only way to really learn how to make a movie is to make a movie.  I never really listened to the lectures until they applied to something I was actually doing.  The best thing about film school is the unlimited access to all kinds of equipment.

How would you describe the film "scene" where you live?

Well, I live in LA.  I used to live in Boston.  In my experience, people in Boston spend more time and less money making films than they do in LA. The film scene in LA is literally in a world spotlight.  I think that in Boston the film scene’s dream is to be in a similar spotlight.  It is very unfortunate to me that money controls the industry.

Conservative filmmaking is boring to me, but it is also a formula that makes billions of dollars.  If you show and tell someone who has lived in LA all of their lives that you made a decent-looking feature-length film for a few thousand dollars, they will not believe you.  It’s similar to going back in time and telling someone from 50 years ago about the Internet.   I will also say first hand that LA is not the glamorous city that many people may imagine.  It’s just a city.  You won’t run into A-List actors strolling in the park.  You will, however, run into countless people who work in movies, and if you have something to say, you can work efficiently through the grapevine and get in front of anyone you want to.

What is your opinion on movie remakes and sequels?

If they are motivated by the story itself, and not by money, I find them (in my opinion) to be better movies, because there is more heart behind them.  The people making them for money are most likely thinking with a “pass or fail” mindset, which makes it a waste of time, in my opinion.  Regardless, sequels are a staple in film history and they are a part of our world in entertainment.

What is your opinion on book to movie adaptions?

I had the wonderful opportunity to have dinner with author, Lois Lowry (The Giver, Number the Stars).  Lois is widely known as an author, obviously, but she said very clearly to me that if she could go back and start all over again, she would have made films.  I also learned that she took the photos that appear on the cover of her books.  She is an extremely talented photographer.  Talking more, I learned that one of her dreams has always been to make The Giver into a movie.  She explained that there had been three scripts written for it, one of which she liked, but Hollywood has been holding back on executing the film for over TEN years.  Recently, she sent me an email explaining that the movie was finally going into production with Jeff Bridges as the lead.  She is thrilled about it.  It’s all over her personal website.  Knowing that she is going to accomplish her dream gives me a good feeling.   …I know that doesn’t really answer the question directly, but it’s definitely food for thought.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’ve been recently working on a few 3D projects.  My opinion on 3D has shifted since being directly involved with it.  For the first time in my life I am feeling confident that everything will be in 3D before long.  More food for thought.