Three Questions with Filmmaker Ben Tuller

Three Questions with Filmmaker Ben Tuller

Name: Ben Tuller
Job Title: Filmmaker
Office: San Francisco
Time at LaunchSquad: Five years

What’s your favorite part about working at LaunchSquad?

The camaraderie. Ernest Hemingway said, “Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.” Filmmaking is different from other types of work because it’s a journey with your collaborators that demands your vulnerability, time, and dedication to the unknown.

You can’t pretend your way through the creative process; sooner or later your true self is revealed, and to work together through many projects requires unconditional love. My team has seen me at both my best and my worst, and they still take me as I am. Despite disagreements and stressors that come from the job, we have each other’s backs. Life is so short–you have to do great work with people you love, and that’s what LaunchSquad has given me.

What is one of the coolest things/biggest accomplishments you’ve had at LaunchSquad?

One of the biggest accomplishments I’ve had at LaunchSquad was directing the Endicia spots. Endicia, a company that provides shipping solutions, approached us to build a brand awareness campaign surrounding the pronunciation of their name. We were given a long leash in terms of creativity and a big budget to play with.

There was definitely a lot of pressure; my team spent weeks  preparing, losing sleep, reviewing  production details, scribbling manic notes for performances and camera moves. When I walked on set that first day, there was a sense that all that time, money, and preparation depended on the decisions made in what was sometimes a high-stress environment. It can be challenging to get it right while keeping morale high.

But then, when the cameras started rolling, all of that pressure subsided. Everyone is forced into the present moment and knows what they have to do. It was so rewarding to see everyone – cast, crew – come together to give it their all. I suddenly knew everything was  going to turn out well because everyone I’d brought on was the best at what they do and would rise to the occasion.

How did you get into video and filmmaking?

Like a lot of kids, film and acting presented an escape for me. I could go anywhere, be anything–take the monsters in my  mind and tame them. I started making Indiana Jones style home movies when I was five, and that impulse to pick up the camera never really went away.

I was lucky to grow up with a father who used to teach film and a family who introduced the best movies to me when I was still learning to talk. It was such a gift to have people in my life who saw the spark and encouraged it every step of the way. My 6th grade teacher, Ms. Thompson, put classes aside for a day so my friend and I could premiere an action film we’d made. The movie was absurd (a man sells his best friend’s chimp, Baby Boom, to Tijuana generals and must break into the palace to get him back), but we took it very seriously and she recognized that. The best teachers know that the best lessons don’t always come from books, and the greatest thing you can do for someone is believe in him.

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