I grew up without a television.
This is not the traditional sort of opening to a professional introduction - when it comes to video, "familiarity with the medium" is generally one of the most basic things one tries to sell one's self on - but it's a defining fact in my life.
Now, I wasn't banned from watching television, per se, my parents just didn't have one. They'd made the decision that there were better things for all of us to be doing, and so I grew up reading voraciously, going on elaborate adventures in the woods behind our house, and showing absolutely no athletic talent of any kind in at least seven different sports.* Watching television was the rarest of treats, so whenever I got a chance to watch television, any television, I leapt at the chance.
*I was particularly bad at tennis, for some reason. I still am. Twice in college I took it as my physical education credit, to see if I could develop a feel for the game. Instead, there are almost certainly still tennis balls lost out in the thick milkweeds that crowded our college courts.
I can't tell you how much I loved television as a child, how easily it ensorcelled me. I would lock eyes on the screen, sound on or off, and disappear into its world. Returning to the world afterwards was always blinking, confusing mess.
It was purely by coincidence that I chose to go to a college with a great media program. I picked the college entirely by feel, then chose to major in media production because it just sounded fun. If it hadn't been fun, I would have found something else to do.*
*I have given a lot of thought to what this other path might be. Maybe Art? I don't think my parents could have dealt that one, though. My media studies had my mother already convinced I would end up penniless and degraded. She had a whole prayer chain going for my job prospects before I had even started my sophomore year.
But it was fun - more than fun. It was thrilling, absorbing. I threw myself into the media program with complete abandonment. I wrote pantingly desperate essays to win my way into newer and more experimental classes, I volunteered to storyboard the entirety of the department's first big film project despite having no evident drawing skills. In addition to my own work, I often both shot and edited the projects of my friends, just because I was enjoying myself so much. It was a sickness. Six months after I had started the program, I won Best Drama, Best Picture, and Audience Choice at the school's nascent film festival.*
*I'm still proud of this, but things were very small-time back then. There were about ten films in the festival that year, and I think I was involved heavily in maybe eight of them.
I spent the first half of my senior year at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center, producing mostly incomprehensible films that my professors somehow managed to recognize the massive flaws in and grade me accordingly. I finally started to learn that I couldn't skate by on a mediocre eye for framing and some technical savvy.
I interned at Scott Free Pictures, where I made a truly shocking number of photocopies and ate bagels in close proximity to legendary director Ridley Scott while he edited the Russell Crowe-Marion Cotillard bomb A Good Year. Everyone was very nice, but no one really had anything for me to do. I spent a lot of my time collecting lunch orders and trying to stay out of everyone's way.
Asbury had a program that allowed a few students to intern at the Olympic Games with the Olympic Broadcasting Organization that I was either lucky or dogged enough to qualify for. A few weeks after I returned from Los Angeles, I found myself living in a hotel atop a mountain the Swiss Alps, working as a camera assistant at the Torino Olympics with a boisterous crew of Australians.* I highly recommend that if you are ever in a production situation in which you feel wildly over your head, do so with as many Australians as you can. Our team was so relaxed it actually unnerved the head of Olympic broadcasting, who visited our site to find out why everyone was so unreasonably carefree (it was later determined that our crew rated as the best and most efficient team at that year's games. I learned about how little yelling you actually need to make good television).
*If you ever find a crew of Australians who you would not describe as boisterous, let me know. I have yet to find such a collection.
A few weeks after graduation, I got an email about a job prospect at a megachurch outside of Houston, Texas. Most of our graduating class was applying for the job, but it turned out I had a man on the inside - my tennis partner from gym class, who had been paired with me as a result of his similar incompetence with the sport. We spent much of our time during class hunting for lost tennis balls together, and had grown quite friendly as a result. He promised to put in a good word for me.
A few weeks after I sent in my resume, I got a phone call from the church's media director while driving my brother JA home from work. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road and yanked up the emergency break. On the rocky edge of a twisting road in the middle of nowhere, with JA leaning against the side of the car, tossing pebbles into the woods, I spent an hour interviewing for a job that I knew nothing about yet was certain I desperately wanted.
I flubbed the interview. Absolutely botched it. My interviewer was a fellow named John, a genial bear of man who loved recounting old stories but never really paused to allow me to answer any of his questions. I could hear it in the long silences on the other side after I'd interrupt him midway through a recounting of a wild time in Guatemala to try and explain my qualifications. I was throwing him out of his rhythm, and I knew it, and I couldn't stop myself. The call ended with a weighty pause and a "well, we'll be in touch," and then the click of a sudden disconnect.
"What do you think?" I asked JA, who had rejoined me in the car after he ran out of pebbles to throw, which had happened at least 30 minutes beforehand.
JA's pause was just as long and weighty as John's had been.
"I would have interrupted him less," he finally said, tactfully. He knew I'd botched it, too.
We drove home, and that night, I headed out to my friend Lauren's house, depressed. The two of us hiked up the ridge that rose up behind her house and sat on the edge in the
OKAY, OKAY, I REALIZE I HAVE YET TO FINISH THIS. My apologies. I promise to get to it as soon as I can.
Here's some text from the old version!
Ben attended Asbury College in Kentucky and graduated with honors from their Media Communications program with a triple emphasis in Film, Production, and Performance. He received a number of academic honors for his work in the department, including both Radio Producer of the Year and Television/Film Production of the Year. For the latter award, he was the first student in school history to have two of his projects tie for first prize, and he ended up splitting the award - with himself. At the inaugural Highbridge Film Festival, he took a number of honors, including Best Picture, Best Drama, and Audience Favorite.
In 2005, Ben was the only solo male student selected to receive the Asbury Initiative, a program designed to fund intensive mission work. He spent the summer working at a struggling rural orphanage in Beius, Romania. Later that year, he attended the Los Angeles Film Studies Center, where he was one of eight students selected for the directing program. He interned at Scott Free Films, famed directors Ridley and Tony Scott's production company, during production of motion pictures A Good Year and Deja Vu, as well as number of other Scott Free films including Tristan + Isolde, Domino, and In Her Shoes. Upon his return to Asbury, he was selected for employment by the Torino Olympic Broadcasting Organization (TOBO) as a camera assistant at the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy.
After graduating in 2006, Ben was hired by The Woodlands United Methodist Church, an 9,000 member church in The Woodlands, Texas as their chief video producer. His work there has received a Gold Addy, been nominated for a Covenant Award, and been broadcast nationally on both TBN and GMC, as well as locally on all the network affiliates. He remains in ministry there, serving on the Worship Planning board and producing more than 130 videos per year for the church and its ministries.
The Normal Version
Ben grew up as the second of four brothers in southern New Hampshire, and, when September rolls around and the trees fail to turn vibrant colors, he misses it dearly. He remains somewhat surprised to find himself living just outside of Houston in the sweltering heat, and more surprised still to discover he's grown fond of both city and state.
He grew up without a television (since there were - sigh - "better things to do"), so film and media always held a mystical appeal for him. He eventually chose it as a major, since it sounded like fun.
Ben is a proud Christian, a longtime Boston sports fan, an indie rock fanatic, and he's famous for having no luck at all. He's completely helpless around a $5 DVD rack and can't ever seem to find a way to unclutter his DVR.