I met Mr. Ben back in 2002 while doing makeup on a theater production. At the time I was finishing production on my very first DVD, featuring A Tribute to Sanity. Until I was able to later recut My Crepitus, this was my first fully realized film. Dan Hinder and I spent countless weekends hammering this DVD under adventurous conditions, as creating DVD’s in those days wasn’t as accessible as it is today. We were looking for interesting ways of exploring the technology and one idea was to have two versions of A Tribute to Sanity on the DVD.
The thought of working with Mr. Ben was born. We shot an alternative ending with him, which would later become the opening of the final cut. I can easily say that the day I shot with Mr. Ben, I realized in a completely fresh way that this was my path in life. To this point, I ‘thought’ I was dabbling with filmmaking. My plan was to move to LA and pursue special makeup FX.
Creating A Tribute to Sanity was a personal journey I set out to explore. Great friends to this day, Ryan O. Neil and Lisa Hamilton were some of the first to believe in me as a filmmaker. We met two years prior to my meeting Mr. Ben at a convention. I swapped Ryan my first feature and he mailed me his first full length album, he’s a musician. We struck up a strong connection via email, which was new to me at the time. I can easily say the epic letters we sent back and forth helped me develop my writing skills. It also built my passion towards filmmaking. They believed in that side of me and having obtained my own solid editing machine I set out to create A Tribute to Sanity.
This film was made for no budget, purposely. The journey was mad, my equipment wasn’t intended to do what I pushed it to do. This was a turning point, I was either going to pursue a career in all forms of filmmaking and art …or make the trip to LA and specifically focus on special makeup FX. There were times I spent thirty straight hours to fix a bug in my editing machine, so I wouldn’t lose the immense amount of editing that had been done. I did nearly lose my mind for real. At the end of it all, I found myself at that convention (Fright Vision) a year later where I’d first met Ryan and Lisa. We premiered the film there and it included two songs from Ryan’s first album (his longstanding band: Red Bastard Brewery). The reaction was strong and this created one of many collaborations I hold very personal and dear.
The dominos were set and here we are in 2011. Mr. Ben is now one of my closest friends and in many ways he’s become a father figure, particularly after mine passed away. I’ve had the pleasure of countless collaborations with both Mr. Ben and Ryan. Tomorrow is Mr. Ben’s eighty first birthday, if it weren’t for his body showing signs of age… he’s got the acting bug as badly as he had when he was a tiny child. This has inspired all of us here at magGot Films. In so many ways I cannot say, Mr. Ben has helped us all. He’s both inspiring and genuine.
We now have four feature films in the can, that will all be completed in post production throughout this year. Mr. Ben has had an incredible career and it’s an honor to be responsible for his first starring roles in these features. He’s had various parts in tons of films but the only feature he had a starring part in, was never completed. I hope that the new magGot Films releases will open the door for that film to be completed and released. It’s a great film that needs to be seen entitled: Natural Causes.
There’s also a bundle of fresh interest in his memoir The Dream Never Dies. We’re all very excited to see it hit the press finally, it’s an incredibly rewarding read of his life as a working actor.
So here we are after a long haul of hard work. As someone recently said, this is the year of the magGot. I would also like to add that it is the year of Mr. Ben. Tomorrow he has a lot to celebrate, eighty one is the new eighteen!
Happy birthday Mr. Ben.