DCP:
Of the various roles you take on in making your art what is the most enjoyable? Least enjoyable?

 

Jack Bennett:
Directing is the absolute best. You're the audience member who gets to affect what's onscreen. Everybody's directing style is different, and I don't know what makes me different from anyone else as a director, but I do know it's the job that ultimately I live to do. I'm always completely comfortable and confident in that role, and the challenges that come to you as a director are endlessly exciting. No one person makes any movie, and the director is the one who gets to work with everybody. I love that, I love collaborating and thinking on my feet and coming in with the plan and embellishing the plan based on what's working, I love the whole deal. It's the most work and the most fun. Editing something that I've directed is the most satisfying aspect of filmmaking but nothing beats watching what you've been working on become a reality on the set.

 

Least enjoyable? Probably cinematography, which I used to do on my own movies and I occasionally get asked to do on other people's projects and I just won't do it. Sometimes I operate but I can't bring myself to DP. It's one of those skill-sets possessed by so many other people who are so, so much better than me. I'd rather work with them!

 

 

Filmmaker Q&A Jack Bennett

by Nick Gardetto

Comment

 

DCP:
What got you into Film? When did you realize that you had a talent for creating scenes?

 

JB:
I don't know if it's a talent but it's certainly an inclination. I've been thinking in film language before I knew what to call it. When I read books I see the action described in shots and scenes. Maybe when I was a kid I just watched way too many movies. I had my first intense emotional experiences from watching movies I was likely too young to understand. I got to watch a lot of flicks unsupervised. There was a VCR in the basement and my family would leave me alone if I rented a movie. My younger brother and I would watch a lot of movies together when my parents would go out on weekends, we'd eat too much pizza and watch The Terminator and Aliens and The Road Warrior at the tender ages of 9 and 6. I grew up in the glorious era of video stores that employed apathetic suburban kids who could not have cared less what a ten year old was renting. I only got stopped from renting one movie; Angel Heart, which I wanted to see because it had Robert DeNiro in it and I had already seen Taxi Driver. The clerk wouldn't let me take it because the VHS release was unrated and they had put it in the Mature Themes section.

 

DCP:
Of your extensive list of films what was the hardest to write? Shoot?

 

JB:
That's a hard question to answer. They get both easier and harder to shoot every time. The first movie I made, my runaway epic student film Walking Shadows was the hardest to shoot in a sense, because I was ambitious in what I was trying to achieve and I was still learning, but then again I'm still learning today and in many ways it was easier because I was just running out to locations I'd chosen, no permit, with a camera on my shoulder and a couple actors in front of me. This year the "Blood Eagle Wings" video was very difficult in some ways and the most ambitious thing I've done in many ways yet I can't say it was the hardest, because while I keep mounting bigger productions in I know going in what the challenges are and meet them head-on. I used to make movies on weekends with my friends over the course of a year and finish them when I had time, and when that's what my life was like the challenge was just seeing those projects through and making sure I had time to make them and keep myself from getting discouraged. These days when I do work for hire I feel like I have all the support I need, the challenge is just making sure I deliver on the schedule and budget. They're all different, who's to say which is harder?

 

Writing is sometimes harder these days because I really have to fight to make time for it when it's not a paid gig, but when an idea really takes hold of you it won't let you not write it, if that makes sense.

 

DCP:
Is there a source of inspiration that you go to at the start of your creative process?

 

JB:
Music! Whenever I write I'm playing music. It's the one medium I don't even try to create in any way, I write and paint and do photography and draw and act but I can still just enjoy music as a fan, and it's really important that I have that in my life. I'll go back and watch a bunch of movies that I love sometimes to create a feeling, to get my head in a certain space. When movies have heat to them, when they seem authentic and convincing, like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or There Will Be Blood, or Fargo or even something like Trainspotting, that's the stuff I tend to revisit. Anything elemental with a vibe that feels like it was taken from the inside of something specific, that gives me a specific feeling that I can lock into. There's a script I wrote that every time before I started working on it I'd watch the scene from Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky where the Jabberwock finally shows up. Just because that's where I was when I had the idea and that's the feeling in me that I needed to keep writing that one. It can sometimes get abstract. I recently spent an evening rewatching 90's crime thrillers like Heat and those kinds of dialogue-with-bravado movies like Glengarry GlennRoss with a bunch of masculine character actors barking at each other, just to revisit some feeling I get from those flicks, to juice me on this script I'm writing that has a female protagonist and almost nothing to do with any of that. Couldn't tell you. Most of all I just try to take inspiration from life, what I've observed about the different people I've encountered through the years.

 

DCP:
Was there a challenge in going from TV and movies to Music Videos?

 

JB:
Not at all, no. I think imagining scenes started with me listening to my parents' records and trying to make sense of them. I'm 5 years old and listening to "A Day In the Life" and trying to visualize it. That's where a lot of this started. So imagining images set to music is the most natural thing in the world to me. It helps to have the precedent of decades of directors like Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee who created these epic sequences in films set to pre-existing music. So it's the same as that, just imagining what's playing onscreen with that song, as ironically or obliquely or on-the-nose as your sensibilities guide you. With "Blood Eagle Wings" I was given a couple parameters; making it not a performance video with the band, and also the stipulation that they wanted me to "blood eagle" a character onscreen. The rest was essentially creating a short film that had that song as the soundtrack. That's no different from what I'm doing when I'm listening to music and writing a screenplay, except in this case I had a great song locked in to be the score.

 

DCP:
You have worked in many areas of the film industry, if you had the freedom to make whatever you want what genre, role would you work in?

 

JB:
I'll always want to direct. I have that same writer-director dream that many filmmakers of my generation have, inspired by 70's filmmakers and 80's genre fare. It wasn't that I was a horror fan first, it was that I was a huge film fan and I took horror as seriously as any so-called reputable genre. Yet the disreputable aspect of it is, which horror manages to retain no matter how many glossy mainstream horror movies get made, is probably what I love about it. You can make a pretentious horror movie, but as a genre generally horror is unpretentious at the core. It's a genre I want to express some big ideas through, and it's a genre that I want to make a valuable contribution to rather than siphon something off of for myself. So if I could wave a magic wand I'd want to direct an ambitious horror movie, or series of films, the kind of thing that would have captured my imagination as an audience member no matter what age I was when I saw it. I would love, love, love to adapt a Stephen King novel to the screen. The tone of his writing and the character in his writing is so specific, it's such a humanist view of fears and obsessions and how people arrive at the choices they make. There's a way I imagine you could do his books that I rarely see done, to capture that voice and make a film as terrifying as what he writes, and it's frustrating to carry that around but not get the chance to do it myself, but c'est la vie. Maybe someday. I'll never be done with horror. There's a narrative horror series I'm developing right now, focused on a very intriguing protagonist whose story I really want to tell. Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DCP:
How did you start working with Nerdist and Scott Ian?

 

DCP:
I pitched the show Blood and Guts to Fangoria. My idea was a different effects artist demonstrating a different effect every episode, and I had produced a pilot independently, a short called "How To Cut A Throat." The idea was that a short horror film stopped dead at the big practical blood effect, in that case a throat cut appliance, and then breaks the fourth wall and becomes a documentary on how to do that effect. One person at Fangoria in particular loved it, but it didn't get further than that. Then they had a meeting with Nerdist, Nerdist pitched them the idea of producing a behind-the-scenes effects show, the Fangoria folks told them about my series but instead of a narrative short Nerdist wanted a host to guide the series. Chris Hardwick's first thought was Scott Ian, he called Scott and right then and there Blood and Guts with Scott Ian was born. So then I'm producing and directing the series and the first time I meet Scott was the first day of shooting, and we did a life cast on him and tore out his chest hair. And the guy was so cool, he could have quit right there and instead he powered through and it became clear that this was definitely the right guy and we were doing the right show. So that was 2012, that was the magic moment and ever since Scott has just been a champion of the work I do. It has led to a lot of great things for me, my friendship with Scott and also a lot of great work, including the Motor Sister music videos and documentary, the work I did on the Ben Folds Five video featuring The Fraggles, meeting my heroes in the effects world and making more great friendships, going to the set of The Walking Dead and then the stuff I directed for Anthrax. Sometimes you just get lucky.

 

DCP:
Whats next for Jack Bennett

 

JB:
Who the hell knows? If you do, tell me! Actually, there's a lot moving forward at the moment, not everything is solid enough to share, but I'm really looking forward to getting back to some more narrative film, it's what I started out doing and what I set out to do and it's what I love most of all; working with actors and crew to tell a story. In the meantime I do have some other very cool stuff coming out soon; I'm directing a new music video, and new Bloodworks will be out this Spring!

 

Anthrax Blood Eagle Wings
Written, Directed, and Produced by Jack Bennett

Also look for Jack's series Bloodworks on Nerdist

Find Jack on Facebook and Twitter too

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