Interview #2 – Ben McClure

Ben McClure makes brilliant short-films as well as other productions such as audio recordings of stories. You can check out everything he does on his website. I managed to get a little interview with Ben and here it is! 🙂

My questions and replies are in bold, while Ben’s’s answers and comments and in italics. If I need to add anything to my questions or his answers to clear something up, I’ll add it in square brackets [like this].

Thanks for stopping by and having a look at some of my work.  I’ve been making films since I was 11 years old, and in that time I have done so for work, for fun, for study and for ministry.  My website is about my personal films, the ones for fun, and primarily features content I’ve created over the last decade or so.

Ben Thru the Ages

How much money on average goes into making a single film, not counting any equipment you already have?

Most of the films I make are purely for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of my friends as well.  Obviously, I like it when they get a broader audience, but I have never been highly ambitious or skilled at making this happen.  So most of my movies are self-funded, with casts and crews that are purely voluntary.  The budget for A Movie About Itself was probably about $30, and that was because I kept having to reshoot a scene where the four main characters sit around having McDonald’s cheeseburgers together.  For 24 Minutes, I had to buy several eclairs, so that added up.  Stingray cost a bit more (maybe $50?) because we spent a bit on material and props for the superhero’s costume.

Stingray

Which is your favourite movie that you have made so far?

This is a hard question to answer because there are aspects of all my projects that I’m interested in.  Probably my favorite story that I’ve produced is True Blues, which is an audio drama about a blues player, a farm boy, a man with amnesia, and a talking duck all traveling around America and discovering the common history that connects them all.

As for films, Stingray holds a special place in my heart because it was the first of the current “modern era” of my personal hobby film making–movies made with a slightly more serious approach to the process (though still very casual by professional standards) and designed to be shared publicly.   And this past year, I’ve enjoyed completing a number of different projects I’m pleased with:  A Movie About Itself, which may be my most thorough work; One of Us, which is more accessible to a general audience; After, which is just a short exercise but represents a return to more “serious” storytelling for me after a lot of gimmicky projects; and A Strange One Down the Street, which was a fun movie that features my children.

And I have a special affection for a project called My Mise En Scene is Tingling, which is just two guys talking about stuff while location scouting for a movie.  Loosely inspired by a real conversation, it features a minimalist plot, oblique dialogue, and a number of film-related jokes that are completely mystifying to most people, unless they went to film school.  But I also really enjoy the emotional journey that both characters make.

My Mise En Scene is Tingling

Have you ever thought about going back to remake some of the older films you made, like Stingray, with the better equipment that you have now?

Not seriously.  When Amazing Spider-Man was coming out, we joked about re-booting Stingray with a younger, edgier cast.  There are some episodes of my audio drama, The Adventures of Captain Strong – Scourge of the High Seas, that I’ve thought about re-recording because the sound quality is so poor, but that’s about it.  

Do you prefer making story-heavy films like Stingray or comedic films with some funny idea like Dimensions and A Movie About Itself?

Traditionally I’m more into the story and character, but lately I’ve found myself gravitating toward quirky ideas, like A Movie About Itself.  So much so, in fact, that I feel I need to take some deliberate steps to not lose sight of the more emotional aspects of cinematic storytelling as I go forward.

How long does it usually take to make a movie from starting to plan stuff out until it’s being released online? How much of this time is actually shooting the movie?

They really vary.  A Movie About Itself took 16 years or so from first coming up with the idea to finishing it, but of course that’s extreme.  I was actually working on it for about two years, back and forth between shooting and editing–but there were many months when I was busy with other things.  A Strange One Down the Street was basically written, filmed and edited in 24 hours because it was part of a special film challenge.  Stingray was 99% filmed over one weekend, but took 16 months for my editor to finish.

What usually ends up happening is that the production of the film is done on a tight schedule, but post-production and editing drag on because there aren’t any real deadlines.  

Do you have any projects you are working on now or are planning to work on soon?

Currently in editing and post-production is Call Me, a short plot-driven film with a certain amount of action and a science fiction twist.  I won’t spoil anything more about it here, except to say it’s been inspired in part by Steven Moffat’s work on Doctor Who.  It will hopefully be finished early in 2017.  I’m also slowly working on a series of four episodes of The Hanna Jo Stories, an audio drama I’ve been producing for a while, especially for my children.

A Movie About Itself

I want to thank Ben very much for deciding to do this interview. Of course, do not forget to check out his website and a couple of productions of his that I will recommend would have to be Stingray and A Movie About Itself. They are both vastly differnt from each other, but I think that they are both done very well, especially for little side-projects. I was definitely very surprised to find out that Stingray was made over one weekend! It is a very fun twist on the traditional superhero movie genre! And A  Movie About Itself is a brilliant mockumentary about, well… itself. You really have to watch it to fully understand and appreciate the concept.

Also, Ben has recently been doing movie-related blog posts on his website, so you should definitely check that out! Anyway, I hope that you all enjoyed this post! Also, please let me know what you think of it in the comments! Share this post on your social media if you feel like you want other people to know about it. Talking about social media, don’t forget to like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram and subscribe to me on YouTube. But that’s it from me for now. See thee soon!

 

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