Filmmaker Ben Boutlbee will showcase his latest short film, Thief at the Gold Coast Independent Film and Television Night (GCIFTN) on Wednesday, May 29, 2013.
Thief is Ben’s fourth short film, and a milestone in a career that spans more than 20 years in the film industry.
Working in the UK on film sets in the 1990s as a camera assistant and clapper loader, Ben soon discovered his true ambition – to write, direct and produce his own films.
“As a camera assistant I learned to be a technician, and enjoyed being a part of a crew,” says Ben. “But I found that I was more creative minded than technically minded.”
“I guess you could say my days as a technician inspired me to think about what I really wanted to do.”
Ben took the initiative to enrol in New York University’s film School in 1994, where he completed an intensive summer film workshop. He achieved Distinction, and was one of only five students to have their scripts made into a short film out of 50 submissions during the course. That year proved successful for Ben with two short films completed – The Lodger and Agony of Da Feet.
He continued to attend more writing courses at NYU, and by the acclaimed Robert McKee.
In 2002 Ben’s creative focus in filmmaking took a huge leap, and the passion for his craft grew deeper with the filming of his 22-minute short film On The Right Track.
“The film was a period piece set in 1948 – a ghost story,” Ben says wistfully.
“It was probably the best five days of my life!” “I loved it so much.”
The experience had Ben thinking about doing more of his own film projects.
Yet it wasn’t the right time.
Life was busy. Married and starting a family, Ben was working behind the scenes as a technician. In just a few short years he worked on major film productions such as Calendar Girls, High Heels and Low Lives, Babe 2, Eroica – The story of Beethoven’s Third Symphony and the film Saving Grace.
Ben decided to apply his knowledge and experience to create a business. In 2005 he set up BBI Media LTD in the UK, which would deal with all areas of filmmaking. The business took off, yet the Londoner would soon follow a very personal dream that would see him move to Australia.
“My mother is Australian and my Dad was Canadian,” says Ben. “We spent many family holidays in Australia.” “I promised myself that one day I would bring my children to sunny Queensland to live.”
In 2008 Ben kept that promise, relocating his family and BBI Media Pty Ltd to Brisbane.
To date Ben’s company has produced programming for a wide range of high profile clients such as Mark Warner Travel Company, Gilead Pharmaceuticals and Goldman Sachs.
Corporate and commercial videos have earned Ben a reputation for a high standard of filmmaking that has seen him take on extraordinary projects such as directing and filming a travel and cooking series in India with popular chef and restaurateur Reza Mohammed; and filming on location in Botswana for Muchenje safari parks.
More recently Ben says he has completed the filming of a compelling documentary on Sir James R Mancham – the former President of the Seychelles.
Yet his passion for drama and creating stories that twig the imagination continues to inspire Ben’s desire to write, direct and produce his own films.
When asked how his short film Thief came about, Ben just laughs.
“How do these stories pop into people’s heads?”
“When I started thinking about the storyline for Thief I told my wife about it.”
“She said it was the worst story she’d ever heard.”
“Eighteen months later, and after many changes and much editing, she has changed her mind,” says Ben proudly.
The story of Thief is based on dirty cop – Detective Marco Rossi, who has pinned a double murder on an unsuspecting kleptomaniac.
All is going to plan until the detective realizes that this guy might be a little more complex than he expected.
Ben credits actor Mirko Grillini (The Chronicles of Narnia) with helping him push start Thief, having given the actor the chance to read the script.
“I had met Mirko on a night out on the town, and then saw his short film at one of the GCIFTN events at the Arts Centre,” recalls Ben.
“We talked about Thief and I sent him the script.” “He called me back a few hours later to tell me he wanted to do the film, and that he would help me get a cast and crew together.”
“I also called on a friend back in London – Natasha Cali to help organise the production.”
“That’s how it started.” “Now the 15-minute film is ready to be showcased for the first time at the May GCIFTN.”
Ben, who wrote and directed the short film, was joined by Grillini and Cali as producers. This formidable team are ready to launch the project on the film festival market.
“I am very pleased with the end result of the film.” “We have something we are really looking forward to showing people and hopefully generate interest,” Ben says as he mentions contemplating his next project – a feature film!
Interview by Melissa Szalai