Ben Rider: An Exclusive Interview

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

Ben Rider, this is an up and coming filmmaker who is about to make his debut in the Independent Film World. This passionate young filmmaker is about to release his first film, ‘To Love Somebody’. The Rabbit Film Section was fortunate enough to gain an interview with this filmmaker. Check out the interview below.

Naomi Jeffreys: Who are your Film Influences?

Ben Rider: I tend to find a lot of inspiration from the filmmakers that I have either grown up watching or recently discovered and thought: ‘that’s the kind of film I’d like to make.’

BR: To name a few: Sofia Coppola, Wong Kar Wai, Woody Allen, Pedro Almodóvar, Billy Wilder, Claire Denis, Michael Haneke, Federico Fellini, Xavier Dolan, Werner Herzog, Lena Dunham, Luc Besson, Gus Van Sant and Stanley Kubrick. I’m sure there are many more.

NJ: When did you know you wanted to be a Director?

BR: When I was quite young, about four years old, whilst living in South Africa, my grandmother would take me to the movies every so often. I remember becoming quite mesmerised by the Disney animations, and so I decided that that’s what I wanted to do.

BR: Be an animator. But then as I grew up, and stopped watching animation films, I slowly lost interest in that idea. I settled on directing once I discovered that it was the person who tells the story visually. It was during a kind of making-of season geared at Steven Spielberg’s films on the film channels in Israel. I was about ten years old.

NJ: What are your Top Five Films?

BR: It would be a cliché to say that to name five is too difficult or near impossible.I have seen ‘Lost in Translation’ about thirty times now. I lost count quite recently. So that would have to be a favourite. I guess ‘Manhattan’ is another. My favourite Allen almost changes by the week.  ‘Leon’, ‘The New World’ and ‘Sunset Boulevard’. There, that’s five.Those are my favourites this week at least.

NJ: If you could describe your style in five words what would they be?

BR: Sentimental, fluid, unpolished, rustic and romantic

NJ: How important are Film Festivals for Young Directors?

BR: Quite important I’d think, unless you’re already inside a circle of filmmakers. They have two important roles for young directors I think. The first is a place where you could attempt to get in on, enter a short or more and maybe get your foot up one step of the ladder.

BR: The second is more important than the first, its something I recently was reminded when I went to see ‘Laurence Anyways’ at the London Film Festival, and that’s to simply love cinema. I think if you’re doing a film course at uni its quite easy to forget why you love films to begin with, but to take time out and go to an environment where everyone present is engaged with the film can be quite a good reminder of why you want to do it in the first place.

BR:For me though, attending screenings in public is quite foreign. As a kid I grew up in countries where it was too expensive, so films were only available on TV. The idea of going to the cinema was quite romanticised by films like ‘Cinema Paradiso’, so I’ve always kind of being disappointed watching it with an audience.I prefer watching it at home. Especially that we now have a projector.

BR:But it’s important to remember that audience, to remember what cinéphiles look and sound like. And its important to attend festivals, as that’s the only place we really exist now, at least in the UK – were no longer present at the local Odeon.

NJ: You are in your final year at University, how important has it been in shaping you as Director?

BR: Not so much to be entirely honest. I went in knowing what I wanted to do, and whilst being at uni I’ve realised that if you really want to do something you just need to get up and do it. I guess that’s the lesson I’ve learnt.

BR: The other key thing is that no one will ever understand where you’re coming from directly when making any creative project. They can admire the end product, and criticise it and you whilst you’re making it or once you’ve finished, but bottom line they can’t see it through your eyes.

BR: I’ve learnt to become volatile. I stand my ground. And boy did it come in handy whilst making my feature.

NJ: You have your first feature film in post production, can you give away anything about the film, ‘To Love Somebody’?

BR: ‘To Love Somebody’ follows two couples. We see the two pairs together at the start, in a dinner party scene. And the film kind of expands from there on.We follow them in their most intimate and turbulent hours, placed side by side – creating a great contrast between the two.

BR: The one couple, Mike and Meryl, are recovering from a loss. They have a slight age gap, which seems to just add more petrol to the fire in their relationship, it all escalates from there.

BR: Whilst Tim and Joanna, who appear at first as the happy-go-lucky yuppie couple, have more going on that their cheerful facade. They’re insecure, dependent on one another’s affection and reassurance, and they’re worried that they might have another miscarriage. I loved how I was able to ground the argument about life plans into the film, how were all expected to go from A to Z as we grow up.

BR: Both sides of the films explore what it means to love somebody though, that is what was at the core of the film really.

NJ: Finally, do you have any advice for any budding Filmmakers at the University of Essex?

BR: I have three pieces of advice really, 1. Only make a project that interest you, find out what’s in it that makes you want to work ridiculous hours for it and 2. Don’t forget why your doing it and most importantly 3. Get on with it.

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