This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 324: Director/Cinematographer Benjamin Kasulke .
Ashley: Welcome to Episode #324 of the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing Benjamin Kasulke who just directed a cool film called Banana Split, starting Hannah Marks. He started working in the industry in post-production and got to know a lot of the indie filmmakers in Seattle and started his career that way as a cinematographer. So we talk through that transition. Benjamin was the cinematographer on a film called Safety Not Guaranteed, which was a big indie hit, so we talk briefly about that film as well. Stay tuned for that interview.
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So now let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m interviewing director Benjamin Kasulke. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Benjamin, to the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Benjamin: Thanks man. Thanks for having me on.
Ashley: To start out, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in the entertainment industry?
Benjamin: Sure, yeah. I grew up way, way up in the Adirondack Mountains in Northern New York in this little tiny town of about 5,000 people called Saranac Lake. It’s very cold and very high up and a very remote. And I was… I grew up watching a lot of VHS tapes during very, very cold long winters. I didn’t even know you could be in the film industry. I thought it was just a thing that happened and you watch the movies that… you know, and I didn’t know it was like a way to be an adult. And then I was touring a bunch of colleges and looking at all sorts of different places to go to school, and then I stumbled into this film department on a tour of Ithaca College. I had no idea you could go to school for film, I had no idea you could get a degree in film.
In my brain, I guess the next jump was, “Oh, if you can get a degree in this, maybe you could have a job in this. Maybe you could do this for a living.” And then one thing sort of led to another. Then I went to film school and ended up going to Ithaca and I got out and I had a job as a negative cutter for a long time. Then while I was cutting negative, I started to meet local filmmakers in Seattle where I had moved, and I started shooting a lot of stuff for filmmakers because I knew how to shoot 16-millimeter film. I started shooting small projects and I kinda became this guy who shot a lot of these weird sort of short, modern dance short films in Seattle. There was a whole scene of filmmakers out there that were doing that.
Eventually the short films got longer and longer and then they became features and then they became more features, then I was shooting lots of features and then started directing features and TV, and here we are.
Ashley: Yeah, exactly. So a slow long journey. Now, that’s a good summation. So one thing I definitely would like to touch on, because I know I get a lot of screenwriters that maybe come at this from a different angle and they’re always wondering, “How can I branch out?” How did you make that leap from DP to director? Did you just have to go out and shoot a short as a director, self-finance it and kinda get that calling card? Were you able to actually take your DP experience and get paid to direct that first project? Maybe talk about that transition just a little.
Benjamin: Right, right, right. Yeah. I mean, I had wanted to… I’d never wanna stop shooting. I love it. I’ll do it until I can’t anymore. I’ll do it till my body gives out, but I knew I wanted to direct some stuff. I’d been around a lot of directors that were really good at their jobs and taught me a lot and showed me how it was a gratifying experience, you know, the storyteller. But I didn’t know how to make it happen, but I kinda kept putting it out there that I wanted to do it. I knew that if I sort of put the word or if I tried to manifest it somehow out in the world that it would happen. And so I worked with tons of people. Over the years there’s been like maybe 20 directors that I’ve worked with over and over and over again and I started to make it known that I kinda wanted to do this.
It sounds kinda weird and [inaudible 00:05:11] or something just to like manifest this thing for yourself. But I didn’t know how to… I didn’t have… I had to work constantly to just make ends meet. So I was shooting all the time, and when you’re shooting films, you’re working all the time. So there wasn’t time to like say, “Hey, I’m taking eight months off, I’m gonna write a screenplay and then I’m gonna sell it and make a tiny budget film. That wasn’t really an option because I just wasn’t making that kinda money. I wasn’t, you know, just not in that tax bracket of a filmmaker and I think a lot of people aren’t. That’s rare. So what did happen though is like over the years I’d get like… I lived in Seattle, I knew a lot of bands and I knew a lot of bands without a lot of money that wanted to make a little video and they only had a couple thousand bucks.
But hell I knew how to do that. I’ve worked on tons of tiny movie like feature films that cost just a little bit more than that. So I would do music videos here and there or I worked a lot and I think your screenwriters will find this especially if people start out, I worked a lot with first time directors and in helping someone direct for the first time you get to teach them things that may have worked in other situations with other directors and all of a sudden it’s kind of like, “Wait, if I know this and I’m teaching somebody else to do this, I know how to do this myself.” A lot of that confidence starts to build. And I think that with screenwriters, I’m sure you’re probably seeing people that have to do problem solving on the fly that wrote an episode of something or wrote a screenplay of something, and when it gets on set it just doesn’t work or it has to be adapted for an actor or has to be adapted for a dramatic beat or has to be adapted for a location.
And all of a sudden they’re having to think on the fly and having to go really fast and having to problem solve for a first time director. And like, I think for me that would happen on the cinematography end of it. I’m sure it happens all the time in the screenplay end of it. But this Banana Split as a first feature came around because I knew Hannah Marks who’s the exec producer and the co-writer and the star of it. It’s not an autobiographical film, but a lot of it was sort of right place right time. Like Hannah and I were both at the Sundance Feature Film labs. I was there as a cinematographer and she was there as an actress and we were working on the same project about 12 years ago now, and, no 10 years ago now.
We became friends, we had similar sensibilities and we were both kind of in this industry. We just stayed in touch and kind of sent each other stuff that we were working on. She would send screenplays and short film ideas and I would send her like trailers for things I was working on or tell her I was… we’d always see who was working with who and who liked who they were working with, who was a fun collaborator. And she… one day she had the script for Banana Split and she was like, “Hey, will you read this? I just wanna know what you think.” And I thought this… over the years we’d read each other’s stuff. I thought she just wanted notes, and so I read it and I thought, “I don’t have a lot of notes. This is really funny, this is really smart and this is really kind of wise beyond its years and I’m not sure what to tell you Hannah, I think it’s great. I think you’re gonna do a good job with it.”
And she’s like, “Actually, I’m busy on my other films.” She was codirecting a film that she co-wrote with Joey Power. And she co-wrote Banana Split with Joey Power. She was finishing up a film called After Everything and was full on sprinting to the finish line to get it done in time for South by Southwest that year. She knew that she wanted to make Banana Split and that she wanted to be in it and that she felt like she only had so much time as an actress to play high school age without any real suspension of disbelief on the audience perhaps. So we kinda had to move fast. But I think as far as like if you’re someone out there that’s writing screenplays, I think it’s like you have to be around, you have to… and like as a cinematographer, it’s easy to be around people that are making stuff because you’re on set.
It’s harder as a screenwriter to show up on set all the time or there’s not a huge… it’s not an overly social job unless you’re in a writer’s room. And so I think you have to kinda find ways to show up. And like Hannah, I knew because of Sundance and the Feature Film labs, but the only reason I was able to go to the Feature Film labs was because I went to the Sundance Film Festival over and over again with movies and I didn’t get into the Sundance Film Festival with any movies until I had been making movies that played at other smaller festivals for a really long time. I had this teacher years ago who was like a… who just said, “If you’re in a profession and there’s any kind of a conference, just show up. Just go. Talk to whoever. Just see what people are working on.”
And I really think it’s a matter of just being there, being around, being a person and not just someone on the other end of a cold email or someone on the other end of an IMDb credit. It’s sort of making yourself accessible and it’s hard. I think some people are… socially, it’s hard to put yourself out there. It’s hard to [inaudible 00:10:16] it’s the right thing to do, especially if… I think there’s a little sort of badge of honor with writers and screenwriters where it’s like if you get a certain number of pages per day that’s your work day. But usually that involves like holing up somewhere and doing that on your own. I think if you write anything, even the tiniest short, and it goes to a festival and you can go, you should go.
You should talk to everybody and all of a sudden, you’ll be like the person that was there with that movie that somebody remembered having a conversation with. That’s kinda what happened with Hannah and I. It was like we were just in the same place at the same time, and we just showed up. And it took a long time, but 10 years later she knew that because I had shot her in this pretty emotionally tricky role that was difficult to… just difficult acting for her, and she knew that as a cinematographer I helped sort of set the tone on set with our director to make her feel comfortable, she knew that I would hopefully be able to make her feel comfortable in an autobiographical comedy about her life years later.
Ashley: Yeah. So a lot of what you’re saying I think is excellent advice. I come on this podcast and I always try and emphasize like people, oftentimes writer directors, they’ve done a bunch of shorts to kinda get their feet wet. I’m curious, as someone who is on the trenches in Seattle, you’re outside of Los Angeles, most of the listeners of this podcast they’re outside of Los Angeles, how do you meet those people, like these directors? You’re the cinematographer. How were you meeting these directors, 10, 12, 15 years ago in Seattle? Were you joining local filmmaking cooperatives, were you joining Facebook groups? Maybe you can just give our audience just a little advice. How can they network with the up and coming producers and directors in their city?
Benjamin: Yeah. I mean, I think the biggest things that helped me in Seattle at the time were, I had a job as a negative cutter, so I was working in post-production and I…
Ashley: What’s a negative cutter just for our audience? What does a negative cutter do?
Benjamin: Back in the day when people shot on film, you’d shoot film, there’d be a negative that came out of your camera and you would transfer that negative to video or transfer that negative to a film print and you would work off of a smashed up version of… or you’d work off a version of the images that you shot that were struck from your original camera negatives while your camera negative was stuck in a vault for safekeeping. You would edit your film either digitally like we do now on computers or on a flatbed on a work print. And then when the time came to make a film print, you would take that original camera negative that is the true version, the cleanest possible version of your film.
You take that film stock and you would actually cut it frame for frame to match your edit and then send that out to have a film print made. And so I did that. A couple of different iterations of that job. It’s really technical. It’s very clean. You work in a room without any natural sunlight with white gloves on and lots and lots of music. I had a bunch of really good friends and we were jammed in a room in Seattle and we just played music and cut people’s movies together. I did that for years. And what that did was there was a lot of local filmmakers in Seattle and I think the way that… like people don’t really cut negative that much anymore. These days mostly you see that as film archives and film restorations. And we did some of that too.
But what it did do was put me in a city that wasn’t New York or LA job that had me in the film industry and it was sort of adjacent to really creative work, but it was still in the film industry and it got local filmmakers in the door. And it got me to a point in their filmmaking cycle where they were really just taking their final technical steps towards their final film prints, and the final version of what people were going to see. So they weren’t… and people weren’t really super stressed. They weren’t in a rush. They had time to talk. And I made some of my best, earliest film friends that way. So I think that’s how I met Megan Griffiths, a director I worked with a lot, Lynn Shelton, a director I worked with for a long time.
That’s sort of how we met was they had a project that needed to be finished and I worked at the place that finished it and one day they would walk in the door and I could be like, “I’ve watched your movie 10,000 times. I love it. And I also… I know how to shoot movies. I know how to expose film.” And I think it was… that was the professional of it. Then from there, plus cities that New York or LA is that they have really avid film-going rep art house, cinema kinda stuff and Seattle is really good with that. Places like Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Austin, Portland, Oregon. There’s places, there’s film societies, there’s rep cinemas, there’s places where people gather socially to go watch movies. And like that… there’s… you’ll find regulars at those places.
I guarantee if you show up at those screenings in your hometown over and over again, you’ll see the same 20, 25 people. And some of those people wanna be filmmakers. If you live in a place that’s not as expensive as New York or LA, sometimes there’s extra time to make things. And if you’re a screenwriter, that’s a really specific skillset. It’s hard. It’s hard to do. It’s really hard work. And there’s a certain self-discipline that a lot of people aren’t wired genetically to have. So I would say to the listeners out there, if you start to see people that have the same taste as you, that even have an inkling of wanting to make something, offer your services. Anything is hard to write, but a five-page short is not as hard to write as a 220-page mini-series.
And people are probably not gonna start making the 220-page mini-series. Like you might be able to volunteer a couple of days per month to really get a five-page short in good order, and there might be somebody to them that that’s impossible. Like I’m not a… I can write, I write all the time, but I don’t like it. I don’t enjoy it in a way that my screenwriter friends do where they’re like, “I’m not gonna talk to anybody for four days. I’m going in a hole and I’m gonna come out the other end with this great screenplay.” I wish I could do that, but they wish they could shoot a film. They wish they knew how to light something for a night exterior that looks normal. So I would say, be around, show up, find those communities in your town and make it known that you know how to do what you do and that you’re dedicated to it.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Excellent advice. I’m curious. Okay, so you had this this relationship with Hannah sounds like ongoing relationship for many, many, many years. You read the script, you gave some notes. I’m curious how did you then broach the subject of, “Hey, well could I be a director?” or did she approach you? And then what were those next steps to actually start raising money for this?
Benjamin: Yeah, I mean, she approached me as far as like, “I’m looking for somebody to direct it.” And I think for her it was something that… it was as simple as this a really emotionally vulnerable kinda story for me and I… and then I know that you took care of me when we were doing this 10 years ago at the Sundance labs. So I think for her, it was fairly practical in that she, as a friend, she knew I was trying to kinda manifest this opportunity for myself. So it all kind of lined up. And I think also I had had enough experience on sets of multiple sizes, big budget movies, middle budget movies, tiny budget movies, big budget TV, tiny TV. Like I’d sort of done all that stuff.
So on paper for a production company I wasn’t somebody that didn’t know how a day to day film set was run and I wasn’t somebody that didn’t understand that 12 hours can go really fast if you waste time on a day on set. So that kinda stuff had all sort of lined up. As far as the money we… Hannah had started talking to me about coming on. I really wanted to do it. She, at the time, the film was with a company, Burn Later and they were based out of Boston and I knew a few of the people involved with Burn Later, we met up at South by Southwest that year and everything started to feel pretty good. But we were having a tricky time trying to attach a cast that was quote unquote name enough to get us the money that we needed to get going.
But we were working and Burn Later was really, really great about everything, but it was just kind of slow going. And then sort of out of nowhere my agency put me in touch with this guy named Jeremy Garelick who is a producer and a writer-director. He was producing and he made a company up in Syracuse, New York called American Indie and also American High. They’re both sort of the same place. They were making high school movies. And he didn’t know anything about my attachment to Banana Split. He just wanted to meet me through our agent because he was doing this thing in Syracuse. He had found out that I was from Syracuse, New York originally. I was born there, but when I was four, we moved up to this tiny town up in Northern New York.
But I still had family around Syracuse and he… we went out to dinner and he was just like, “Here’s what I’m doing.” And he was making… he had a fund to put together, he was making X amount of movies over a certain amount of time. He wanted to do it in Syracuse because they were high school movies that he felt like he wanted to feel like they could be kind of almost anywhere ville américaine and Syracuse as a city has a lot of different sort of architectural styles to it and it could kind of double for almost anywhere. So he was really trying to move me into going to Syracuse to shoot this movie, to shoot a couple movies in a row. He was like, “I’m looking for somebody that might have family back there or might be heading back there at some point. Any interest you might have and like come to just to make some movies with us there?”
I was like, “No. I’m attached to direct this thing. I’m trying to work on that.” He said, “Oh, what’s the movie?” And it turned out that he had read the Banana Split screenplay and he was like, “Well, we have an open slot in our production slate, so let’s talk to Burn Later.” So the guys at Burn Later who had the movie, Hannah, myself, Jeremy and Joey Power who was one of the co-writers well ended up talking and Burn Later agreed to let American High, his company up in Syracuse takeover. And they already had their money in place. Like Jeremy had already set up a whole system to make a bunch of movies up in Syracuse. So the… it wasn’t a ton of money, but it was there.
So we went from… Hannah had asked me in maybe February or March no, February of 2017, I think, if I wanted to direct this thing. Yes. I met the crew at South by Southwest in March of that year at Burn Later. We looked for maybe six to eight weeks and then I met Jeremy. Then Jeremy and Burn Later, they figured out a deal with him within a month and then we were up and running for that year. So it was incredibly fast. And from my perspective of like, “Hey buddy, you’re going from zero to directing a feature,” it was incredibly fast. For Hannah, she’d been shopping it around for four, four and a half years at that point, and she lived it five years before that point. So like there was a lot of gestation for her with that movie and she had been trying to get it made in different ways, shapes and forms.
And I think she’d been with Burn Later for at least a few months before I even came into the picture. But that’s the short version. The long version is what we had talked about. I graduated film school, I took this job that wasn’t quite what I wanted to do, but it got me close to people that were doing what I wanted. Then one thing sort of led to another. Eventually I was doing mostly what I wanted, which was shooting, but there was this desire to direct and I had a kinda put it out there over and over again. And luckily a friend in Hannah saw that there was a need to direct and also had worked with me. So it’s the… the long answer is there was 15 years of work that didn’t feel like it was gonna lead up to it. The short answer was that from February to October was pretty fast for a first feature film.
Ashley: Yeah. So I just wanna ask one question. This is sort of a perspective question. You were the DP on Safety Not Guaranteed. I think Safety Not Guaranteed is one of those films that it’s kind of a quintessential successful indie film. It was well received by critics and fans. I’m curious as you were working on that film, did anything feel different about it? Was there something magical about it or just it was another job and as the DP, you didn’t see anything necessarily different in the approach or the material or the acting?
Benjamin: Right. Yeah. I mean, that’s a good call. What was really fun about that, working with Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly and Duplass and Aubrey Plaza, what was kinda great about working with all of them is that we all knew the look and feel of the indie movie we came out of, which was handheld and scrappy and looks… it’s lit, but it’s lit to seem very natural. It’s lit to seem like it’s a world that’s inhabited by people that you know. We knew that that was where the beginning and most maybe the first to thirds of Safety Not Guaranteed we’re gonna live in that world. But what was awesome was that we knew at some point it had to turn into like a Spielberg and Lynn movie and we couldn’t let anybody know that that’s where it was gonna head.
So if you watch that movie, it’s like in the beginning you’re kinda like, “Yeah, yeah. I get this, this is like there’s some, it’s Mark Duplass.” Like it looks like a Duplass brothers movie. It’s a lot of the same crew that’s worked on the Lynn Shelton movies. Like it looks like a low budget scrappy movie, and that’s the intent. But what was super fun in making that movie is that we knew that at the point where it starts to become clear that maybe Mark’s character is not just this crazy guy and that there’s props and blueprints and things that start to look like technology that might actually work, the movie starts to look more and more like Explorers or Close Encounters of The Third Kind.
We were able to bring in references that were bigger than what we could have hoped for when the budget of the movie is $25,000. And you’re borrowing all the equipment from the like art school where your director is working to pay their bills.
Ashley: Yeah. I’m curious too, I always like to just wrap up the interviews by asking the guest anything you’ve seen lately that you thought maybe should take maybe a careful look or something maybe that was a little under the radar that you thought was really excellent. Netflix, Hulu, whatever, anything you could mention. I always like to get recommendations.
Benjamin: Yeah. I mean, if you haven’t seen Good Time, not Good Time, well Good Time is amazing. But the latest Safdie brother’s movie Uncut Gems, for cinematography I’m telling everybody to check out The Third Wife which is Ash Mayfair’s film came out last year. That’ll probably be hitting VOD in the next year or so. Oh my God, [inaudible 00:25:22] it’s such a hard question because I always have like eight million things, but [crosstalk].
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. No, those are great. So how can people see your latest film?
Benjamin: Wait, I have one more that’s out in VOD right now. Check out The Climb. Michael Covino, The Climb. It’s great. Yeah. All right, sorry. You were saying?
Ashley: Yeah. So how can people see Banana Split? Do you know what the release schedule is gonna be like?
Benjamin: Yeah. So we’re doing a day and date release, limited release that’ll roll out over time, but March 27th we are opening in a ton of theaters across the USA and Canada. Then we’ll start to… more and more theaters will come out. And I know there’s some health concerns, so on the… so out VOD. Definitely Apple TV on March 27th we’re opening there if you wanna stay home and watch it you can watch it there. And then that’s our… that’ll be… sort of 52 theaters will unroll throughout the US and Canada. And then from there Universal Home Video will take it internationally. So it’ll do limited theatrical around the world and on VOD after it’s run in the US and Canada.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. And what’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing? Twitter, Facebook, a blog, anything you’re comfortable sharing I will round up.
Benjamin: Yeah. Instagram is Benjamin Kasulke, B-E-N-J-A-M-I-N K-A-S-U-L-K-E. Same for Twitter. And then I’m on Facebook as well, Ben Kasulke and www.benkasulke.com is under construction but should be live within the next couple of months.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. Well, Ben I really appreciate you coming on and talking with me today. Good luck with this film and…
Benjamin: Yeah man. Thanks for talking.
Ashley: Yeah. Thank you and good luck with your next films as well.
Benjamin: Yeah. Thanks.
Ashley: Perfect. We’ll talk to you later.
Benjamin: Cool. Yeah, thanks so much.
Ashley: Thank you.
Benjamin: Well, bye.
Ashley: I just wanna talk quickly about SYS Select. It’s a service for screenwriters to help them sell their screenplays and get writing assignments. The first part of the service is the SYS Select screenplay database. Screenwriters upload their screenplays along with a logline, synopsis and other pertinent information like budget and genre, and then producers search for and hopefully find screenplays they wanna produce. Dozens of producers are in the system looking for screenplays right now. There have been a number of success stories come out of this service, you can find out about all the SYS Select successes by going to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success. Also on SYS podcast Episode #222, I talk with Steve Deering who was the first official success story to come out of the SYS Select database.
When you join SYS Select you get access to the screenplay database along with all the other services that we’re providing to SYS Select members. These services include the newsletter, the monthly newsletter goes out to a list of over 400 producers who are actively seeking writers and screenplays. Each SYS Select member can pitch one screenplay in this monthly newsletter. We also provide screenwriting leads, we have partnered with one of the premiere paid screenwriting leads services, so I can syndicate their leads to SYS Select members. There are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner, recently we’ve been getting five to 10 high quality paid leads per week. These leads run the gamut.
There’s producers looking for a specific type of spec script to producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas or properties. They are looking for shorts, features, TV and web series, pilots all types of projects. If you sign up for SYS Select, you’ll get these leads emailed directly to you several times per week. Also, you get access to the SYS Select forum where we will help you with your logline and query letter and answer any screenwriting related questions that you might have. We also have a number of screenwriting classes that are recorded and available in the SYS Select forum. These are all the classes that I’ve done over the years, so you’ll have access to those whenever you want once you join.
The classes cover every part of writing your screenplay from concept to outlining, to the first act, second act, third act as well as other topics like writing short films and pitching your projects in person. Once again, if this sounds like something you’d like to learn more about, please go to www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.
On the next episode of the podcast, I’m gonna be interviewing director Lorcan Finnegan who just did a film called Vivarium starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots. We talk through this film, how he got it going. It was an adaptation. It was something that took him many, many years to kinda get off the ground. So we really talk through that whole process. Just another inspirational story. So keep an eye out for that episode next week. To wrap things up I just wanna touch on a few things from today’s interview with Benjamin. I thought it was great insight into how he broke into the industry. I hope some of this comes through in the interview, but he was very personable. Benjamin’s very personable, outgoing.
And just these phone calls, the impression I get, because Benjamin’s not someone I know, I’ve never talked to him before but we just got on the phone and he had a certain just very personable sort of rapport. And I can see him being a negative cutter, being in a post-production facility like that, filmmakers coming in and him being able to just chat them up. Because again, he seemed like a very sort of outgoing, personable person. So the lesson to me is not we should all run out and become negative cutters. I’m not sure that that job even really exists anymore as things have moved away from film. But the bigger lesson is we should find a way to use what we have. In this case, Benjamin is very outgoing, he’s personable, so this was a perfect fit for him.
He could sit there, he could make a little money doing his negative cutting and then he could get to know the local filmmakers. That’s a great bit of insight and you can see how something like that would work really well for Benjamin. It wouldn’t have been a great fit for me though. I would have sat in the back there. I would have been cutting film all day and I never would have talked to anyone just because I know myself and I know my personality, but that’s totally okay. We all need to find that place that puts us in the best position to use our talents and skills. And I’ll give you an example. Last week I mentioned I’m preparing to launch the SYS Screenplay contest. I think next week I’ll have a more firm announcement on that, but there’s some… this is a… this to me is a good example of sort of what I’m doing.
Negative cutter was a good fit for Benjamin, for myself to advance my own career, running a screenplay contest is something that could potentially help me. There’s some technical stuff getting this contest all set up. Obviously I’m good at that, I already run a website, do a podcast, so I have the technical chops to accomplish all that. I have experienced running SYS and I’m a screenwriter myself. So I’m interacting with producers on a fairly regular basis and I’m especially familiar with low budget producers. So that kinda plays into what I’m trying to do with this screenplay contest. I mean, guess what, now I’ve got all of these producers that I’m talking to who wanna be judges because I’ve got this experience running SYS and as a screenwriter myself.
A lot of these guys are people I’ve emailed with before. Not usually producers that I know very well, but they’re kind of just on my list, emails bounce back and forth. But again, this is another chance for me to network with them and stay on the radar. For the most part these producers know who I am. Many of them have probably never even read any of my material or anything like that, but again, I’m staying on their radar, I’m getting to know them a little bit more. Some of these people that wanna be judges, some of them are gonna step up and they’re gonna really be involved, they’re gonna read tons and tons of scripts. Some of them are probably gonna be less involved. But either way, I’m gonna get to know some of these producers.
Obviously I’m not gonna enter my own contest, but I am going to, as I said, get to know these producers and start to network a little bit and potentially move my own screenwriting career together. Again, I’m using the talents that I have, you know, technical chops experiences, running SYS, experience as a screenwriter and knowing these producers. That’s how I’m sort of doing something similar that Benjamin was talking about. And I think we could all do that. We could all find something that plays into our talents and skills. So to me, that’s the lesson from Benjamin. Don’t worry about the specifics of what a negative cutter even is because that isn’t gonna help you much, but try and put yourself in a position where good things can happen.
But this is gonna take some self-awareness, some self-reflection about really being honest with yourself and trying to figure out what you’re good at and understanding if you get a specific job or do a certain thing, is it actually going to lead to something? Because again, you could’ve put me in that same situation that Benjamin was in. I don’t honestly think if I’d been up there cutting film, I would’ve been able to network like he was doing that exact same job, being in that exact same position. So again, just about being aware of who you are and what you’re good at and what experiences, talents, skills, what you have. And again, trying to use those and put yourself in a position where just little things, little good things can happen. That’s what Benjamin did.
Hopefully that’s what all of you are doing and hopefully you can kinda see how I’m kinda trying to do the same thing, running this podcast, running a screenplay contest. Running this podcast, running the contest, running the bog, all of that is sort of my way of trying to put myself in front of yet more producers in a slightly different capacity of just, “Hey, will you read my script?” Getting to know them and then building that relationship first. Anyway, that’s the show. Thank you for listening.