Artist of the Week: Stephen Bennett

By: Ryan Farrell, Staff Writer

Director and short film producer, Stephen Bennett, doesn’t have a need for expensive equipment. He is a practical filmmaker with complex visions.

After transferring from Connecticut College last year, Bennett found that video projects have helped him make friends with people who share his passion for film. Bennet is a senior majoring in media studies with a minor in honors.

“The USM’s media studies department is fantastic,” he said. He named Nat Ives, Dennis Gilbert and Dan Panici as essential mentors. “I feel like a lot of film education or production education revolves around this idea of achieving technical perfection and as a result you are left with the idea of developing a voice for yourself–you’re leaving that by the wayside.”

While the media studies program has been essential to his development, Bennett wants to develop his own style with little to no budget. He is currently in the process of founding a film festival called Shit in the Dirt. He is looking to gather a variety of short, amateur films from around the country. Shit in the Dirt is a submission-based film festival that will showcase works from those with little to no technical experience or budget.

“I’d rather do something that’s terrible than do nothing,” he said.

Bennett said that featured films could range from eight to ten minutes or eight to ten seconds. This nontraditional event is meant to showcase how a filmmaker’s passion can transcend any monetary barrier.

Bennett never thought of himself as an artist for many years. He aspired to study dentistry until a course in biology caused him to reevaluate his career plans. He discovered his artistic eye during his junior year of high school in a photography class. The class gave him the drive to pursue his budding creativity. As Bennett’s experience progressed, he discovered that he had a deep appreciation for handheld cameras. They inspiring him to produce different content.

During Bennett’s senior year of high school, he created film projects for class credit. These films inspired him to do even more with his talent.

Bennett entered work into the 48 Hour Film Project, an international competition that had visited Portland and taken submissions from local filmmakers. Small groups had only 48 hours to create, shoot and edit a film. Bennett took the challenge and made the most of the experience.

Bennett is currently preparing the Shit in the Dirt festival for a January debut and is taking submissions.

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