In the first of our brand new series of filmmaker interviews, ‘The Name Behind The Film’, MOFILM interviews 29-year-old LA based filmmaker, Ben Tedesco and brother Alex, who took first place in Cannes 2013 for their Chevrolet Spaceship spot. Ben’s success didn’t stop here as Chevrolet’s Global Marketing Director, Tim Mahoney requested the spot to be broadcast on television across the United States.
We catch up with Ben and Alex to find out a little more about their background in film and what their plans and aspirations are for the future.
You can watch ‘Spaceship’ by Ben & Alex Tedesco here:
How and why did you first get into film?
I grew up in a household where my dad and uncle were both doctors, it was something that I didn’t really pursue much as a child. I went to college and studied medicine, but I took ‘the history of film’ as a throwaway class. It was the era of silent movies, and I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen, so I actually stopped taking all of my pre-med classes, switched my major and took all of the film classes they offered me. I then bought a camera and some editing software, and wrote a terrible script and shot my first film when I was 18. It didn’t go that much further than close friends and family, however I think my parents still have a copy somewhere and they do like to turn it on as a joke every now and then.
My School didn’t have a graduate programme so I graduated college in three years, then came to LA and went to the Los Angeles film school, because I felt like I need to learn the technical ‘how-to’ stuff, and it was a really good thing for me.
I got a job as a production assistant at a commercial production house and one of the producers asked me what I wanted to do in the film business. I told him I saw myself directing and he said, ‘nobody can make it as a director, just stick with production’. This upset me because production wasn’t the way I wanted people to see me. I ended up quitting my job and spending 3 months in Europe and when I came back I shot “Spaceship”. I haven’t done any production work since.
How has MOFILM helped you develop as filmmakers?
The Spaceship spot for Chevrolet and the Campbell’s spot helped me finish off my directors reel and take meetings with commercial production companies here in LA. I’m hoping to sign with someone in the next month or two and begin my commercial directing career.
The nice thing is that MOFILM gives you a deadline. For my brother, Alex and I the deadline helps us to focus to finish.The grant program has also made a huge difference for us. The money we received to shoot the Spaceship spot allowed us to make a spot that we were really happy with.
What is it like seeing your film broadcast on national television in the United States?
I haven’t actually seen it on TV! I don’t have cable. I get texts from my friends and people in the industry saying ‘Hey man, I’m watching the Baseball and just seen your spot on the TV!’ so I’ve been going to a lot of sports bars trying to catch it during the ad breaks but I always get the wrong sport or day and miss it!
Where did the inspiration for ‘Spaceship’ come from?
Most of my ideas come from wanting to do something different or how I’m feeling at the time. I just threw out the spaceship idea, and I thought that in order to really place emphasis on the future, I wanted to tell a story through the eyes of a child.
Often I start with an idea or maybe even a particular shot. I see this shot in my head and I know that’s the shot that I really want to get, and then figure out the idea that goes around it. ‘The shot’ for Spaceship was the kid underneath the wing, and wrenching it onto his homemade spaceship. The idea of kids building something is a concept that I wanted to bring to life. The future needs kids to be building and thinking ahead. If kids are inquisitive and passionate about building and making things then hopefully everything will figure itself out.
What are your aspirations as filmmakers for the future?
I’m looking forward to getting into commercial directing. But in the future, I really want to get into features. I am a storyteller, and in everything I shoot I have to find the story. I can’t just shoot without seeing the story.
What advice would you give to your fellow MOFILM filmmakers?
Keep shooting and keep learning. We as filmmakers are always going to make mistakes. You’re going to make mistakes on every shoot so it’s about making these mistakes and learning from them. The more you shoot, the more you’re going to start fixing these mistakes and your work will get better and better.Back