Filmmaker Spotlight: Catching up with SFF Alum Ben Nabors
Ben Nabors’ film WILLIAM AND THE WINDMILL was shown at SFF 2014 and this year he returns to Salem Film Fest with THE HAPPY FILM. SFF program director Jeff Schmidt caught up with the US based filmmaker to talk about his work as a documentary filmmaker.
JS: How did you first get into filmmaking?
BN: I originally moved to New York City to produce live experiences. I hosted a monthly event series that focused on creating scenarios that would cause strangers to interact with each other. These events became narratives, then the narratives became more interesting for me if I could record them. Around this time, HD cameras became affordable and the Internet could sustain video. In other words, the means of film production were within reach, as was the audience. I started my own production company shortly thereafter.
BN: I approached WINDMILL in a similar way to THE HAPPY FILM: over a long period of time with an open perspective. Each project took more than 5 years to shoot, and through the course of production, each story changed significantly from what I had originally intended. This has become an important lesson for me, which I summarize as follows: what actually happens is far more interesting than what I thought would happen. In all my work, I try to remain open to the unexpected; the stories tend to get better that way. William Kamkwamba graduated from Dartmouth College a few years ago and moved to the Bay Area where he works with a design firm. By all accounts, he seems to be doing just fine.
JS: This year, we’ll be showing your most recent film THE HAPPY FILM, which is very different than WILLIAM AND THE WINDMILL. What compelled you to want to be part of this story, which also happens to feature your co-director Stefan Sagmeister?
JS: As a documentary filmmaker, what motivates and inspires you?
JS: As we celebrate 10 years of Salem Film Fest, what do you think is the importance of documentary film in our daily lives and society?
BN: Empathy is one of our most important traits. It keeps us decent. Documentary, when well made, allows us to step outside of our own lives, and inspires empathy through the experiences of others.
THE HAPPY FILM screens on Friday, March 3 at 7:05pm at CinemaSalem – tickets available for purchase at the CinemaSalem Box Office or online here: http://salemfilmfest.com/2018/films/happy-film/