Meet the Next Great Filmmaker

By Phill Powell

“I would definitely and highly recommend DMA for other teens who are passionate about filmmaking. I’m hoping to go back again this summer, both as a TA and to take a class.”

Name: Ben D.
Age: 15
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Future Occupation: Filmmaker
Course: Visual Effects for Filmmaking
Campus: Filmmaking Camp at Stanford

When did you start making movies?
“The first real live-action film I made was when I was nine. At this point I’ve posted slightly more than 80 videos on my YouTube Channel, with more ideas in the works.”

So DMA helped build upon your early filmmaking?
“I first attended DMA in Summer 2011 when I took Visual Effects for Filmmaking with DMA Instructor Travis Schlafmann at Stanford. His class expanded on what I already knew and I got a chance to create films with teens from all over the world. I made friends that I still keep in touch with today.”

But your DMA experience didn’t end there, did it?
“At the end of the class Travis recommended that I take a DMA Pro Series course in After Effects® the next summer and that I apply to be a Teaching Assistant. I went back to Stanford last summer to do both of these things. I was a TA in Digital Filmmaking for Teens – Beginner, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I then took the Pro Series After Effects® class (After Effects CS6 Studio – Advanced Techniques) where I learned a lot of new techniques, all of which I still use today. I also use After Effects® much more frequently than I did before I took the class.”

What’s the single most important thing that DMA did for you as a filmmaker?
“To meet me at my own level with filmmaking and help me go further. This boosted my confidence in myself as a filmmaker. At DMA I was consistently challenged to learn or try something new.”

What do you consider the best part of your DMA experience?
“The ability to work with other teens who are also interested in filmmaking, along with knowledgeable, skilled and fun instructors.”

Is your goal to eventually be a professional filmmaker?
“I do envision myself becoming a professional filmmaker. My dream job would most likely involve cinematography or editing. In a way I already am professional in that I’m being compensated for film and editing work on a fairly regular basis now.”

Thanks to his natural talent and DMA training, Ben is making a name for himself as one of the finest online film directors now emerging. Check out Ben’s website for links to his films and music.

Aspiring filmmakers who want to learn how to shoot professional-quality video footage don’t have to wait to be old enough for film school. Digital Media Academy’s digital filmmaking camps give youngsters the chance to sit in the director’s chair, call the creative shots and try their hand at becoming the next Spielberg.

Ben used his love of running-jumping-rolling Parkour to inspire one of his liveliest short films yet.