M.F.A. Interview with Ben Parsons
Written and directed by Ben Parsons
1 - How’d you get into cinematography?
I’m glad you enjoyed the film! Interestingly enough, I only served as the cinematographer on “Ellipsis” because my first choice to fill that role wasn’t able to commit to the shoot. I only have one other credit as a DP, which was on a student project while I was in film school.
2 - Which directors do you think have influenced you in your work?
One of my biggest influences during production was Ingmar Bergman. I’ve always loved the way he captured faces, especially in his black and white films. Another was Alfonso Cuaron, who had just released “Roma” a few months before I finished a shooting draft of the script. I’ve always loved his use of long tracking shots as well as his limited number of cuts, and after seeing his amplified use of these techniques in his newest work, as well as watching him win Oscars for both Cinematography and Directing, I felt empowered me to try them out myself.
3 - Why have you chosen to shoot in black and white?
In my preparation to shoot “Ellipsis”, I watched several first features by some of my favorite modern filmmakers and found it interesting that many of them had chosen to shoot in black and white, such as Christopher Nolan, Kevin Smith, Spike Lee and Damien Chazelle. Originally, I had planned to shoot in color, but became enamored at the idea of joining that club and having and promoting my own black and white first feature.
4 - How was the relationship with your team during the filming?
My only other crew member during the shoot was a boom operator/sound mixer and there were some days where I served as a one man crew and did everything myself. I really enjoyed having such a small cast and crew because it helped foster an intimate environment that served both the story and performances well.
5 - We know this is your first feature film and it is a promising start!
How did the idea come about?
Thank you! I was first inspired to write “Ellipsis” back in 2013 after I saw Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight”, which features a half-hour sequence of a couple fighting in a hotel room. I was completely hooked by this extended scene and amazed at how a filmmaker could push their audience emotionally with limited camera work and actor blocking. I remember walking away saying “I want to make something like that.” In the end, I wrote a 15 minute fight scene between my two protagonists and wound up writing the rest of the film around it as an emotional epicenter.
6 - Has the film met your expectations when planning it?
For me, making a film is like trying to paint a detailed landscape of a place you’ve only seen once. You try your hardest to show your audience what you’ve been picturing in your head, but your brushstrokes will ultimately change as your memory evolves. Because I believe that a script and its final film product should coexist as two separate artistic endeavors, I can honestly say I’m satisfied with how “Ellipsis” turned out on its six year journey to the screen, and while it’s far from perfect, when I look back at what I was able to achieve almost on my own, I think of it as a respectable effort.
7 – Can you tell us something about your next job?
I’m currently working on a new script about three estranged sisters reuniting after their father reveals his own terminal diagnosis. I’m hoping to finish the script by the end of this year and start shooting by next summer.
Madrid Film Awards - Interviews
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