Filmmaker Benjamin Freemantle
Filmmaker Benjamin Freemantle
is quickly rising up the independent film ranks in both the narrative and documentary film categories.
Most recently, he wrote, produced and directed the coming-of-age short film “Squeak,”
which screened at numerous festivals this winter, earning the Award of Merit at IndieFEST and placing as a finalist at Frostbite. During this same time, Benjamin also headed to several festivals as director and producer of the mini-documentary “Next 10.”
Not content with that, Benjamin puts his storytelling skills to work as an editor. His efforts were showcased at the 2020 Santa Barbara Film Festival in Sancheev Ravichandran’s biographical docu short “Kopitiam.”
A Canadian native, Benjamin moved to New York to get his BFA in Film & Television from Tisch School of the Arts. His first short film, “Wishes and Dreams,” received the Award of Merit in the Social Justice category at The Best Shorts Competition and proved his talents.
Today, he has several projects in the works, including the surreal comedy “Check The Box” and the immigrant tale “Where Are You From Again?”
I recently caught up with Benjamin Freemantle to ask a few questions:
Tell us about your latest film “Squeak.”
BENJAMIN: "Squeak" is a collision between the innocence of a child and the maturity of the real world. The film follows a young boy, Nico, who is on a quest to kill the mouse whose squeaks have been keeping him up at night. His adventurousness motivates him to intrude into his mother’s bedroom only to find the squeaks have a far more sinister source.
Made on a micro-budget over a two-day shoot in New Jersey, I couldn’t have asked for a better learning opportunity nor a more fulfilling process. Working with such an amazing cast and crew from start to finish made all the difference in making this project really come to life.
What are you trying to say with this film?
BENJAMIN: The film aims to show that growing up is an inevitability for all of us, despite our efforts to shelter ourselves and the ones we love. Wrapped in an adventure that shatters at the climax, the young boy’s experience is an example of an embarrassing innocence snapping accidental moment. These moments are often the ones where we learn the most about the world, and I think that’s ok. What we do after, either recede back into secrecy and ignorance or move forward with pride and honesty, is the important part.
You also have the mini-documentary “Next 10”; what can you tell us about that?
BENJAMIN: I used my university meal plan to stock up on snacks and posted in my university Facebook group about giving free food to anyone willing to participate in a secret experiment. On top of that, I invited as many friends as I could to join, and found myself with a large diverse group of people all who had no idea what was going on. From then on I rolled the camera, had participants come into the studio one by one, and asked them to draw what they thought the world would look like in 10 years. What came was an incredibly eclectic collection of interpretations of the question, which resulted in drawings that varied from optimistic to pessimistic, creative to practical, and extremely futuristic to extremely realistic.
Why did you want to create “Next 10”?
BENJAMIN: It is an interesting time to live. With disagreements about whether to look to the future or some better time in the past, I’ve felt an underlying uncertainty about where we are headed in society from everyone around me. I wanted to better understand why people felt the way they did, provide a space to reflect on one’s hopes and fears for the future, and hopefully find some sort of commonality in all of it.
You’ve proven a skilled Editor on other projects; how did this come about?
BENJAMIN: Honestly, I started editing because it was a craft in filmmaking that was the most affordable for me. I couldn’t make the investment on a camera, but iMovie was a free software on apple computers and editing was something I could learn on my own time without breaking the bank. When it came time to start collaborating with people at NYU, I thought I’d brand myself as an editor. It wasn’t long before I developed a love for it. It’s very fun seeing movies come to life.
Do you think these editing opportunities have helped to make you a better filmmaker overall?
BENJAMIN: Oh absolutely. I think everyone should have experience in the editing chair. Footage always has its flaws. These mistakes that were made in production and in development become that more apparent in post-production. Sometimes I feel like I’m playing with magic while I’m cutting, trying to find creative solutions to a puzzle that isn’t quite fitting right yet. I’ve learned the most about how to make a film this way. The better I get at identifying and fixing mistakes in post, the better I get at noticing these issues in the director’s chair.
Got anything else you’re currently working on?
BENJAMIN: Yes. Currently, I’m directing two projects in post-production that I’m very excited about. I’m finishing up "Check the Box," which is a surreal comedy about a mixed family who accidentally splits their son in two; and "Where Are You From Again?" a film about an actress who is tempted to cut corners in order to find work without a green card.
I’m also editing Christina Vislocky’s "All The Things I Wish I Said," a heart wrenching coming of age short film.
And, now just for fun:
Who’s your favorite filmmaker?
BENJAMIN: Probably Lynn Ramsay or Barry Jenkins.
What movie from the past do you wish you could have directed/created?
BENJAMIN: "Get Out," directed by Jordan Peele.
Favorite movie or TV show from your childhood.
BENJAMIN: I loved "Forrest Gump" growing up.
Tell us one thing that would surprise our readers to learn about you.
BENJAMIN: A cross country video of me collapsing and rolling across the finish line in high school went viral last year. I’m now a meme.
How can fans keep up with you?
BENJAMIN: Follow me on Instagram: @benjaminfreemantle link
Or visit: benjaminfreemantle.com link
Thanks, Benjamin -- keep creating and we'll keep watching!
"Squeak" - still
"Squeak" - still
Benjamin Freemantle - on set "Squeak"