Featured Artist: Ben Escobar

by Maria Hernandez

Ben Escobar is a senior studying screenwriting and directing. He is currently beginning production on a handful of personal projects and recently started writing for the Impacting Culture blog. He is best known around campus for his unique horror films and his infamous fish film, Genesis.

When did you realize you had a passion for filmmaking?

I would say in fifth grade when a friend of mine on the playground introduced me to YouTube, we would make videos with a point and shoot camera and attempt to edit them with Windows Movie Maker. After experiencing the thrill of accumulating views for something I had created, filmmaking grew to be one of my favorite hobbies up until high school when I began taking it seriously.

What would you say sets you apart from other filmmakers?

I don’t want to compare myself to other students. I think every filmmaker generally has their own voice they are constantly developing over time. If I was to say that I was somehow set apart from somebody, I would like to think that I’m a bit more observant and interested by the odd intimacies of life that many people don’t think to talk about. While I’m still growing as an artist myself, I’ve recently grown a passion for authentic, honest storytelling. Breaking that mental barrier of holding back some of the sensitive questions about ourselves has opened up a world of opportunities and styles to experiment with.

What inspires your work?

I used to be inspired by my fears and curiosity of sensitive subjects. Most recently I’ve grown fond of independent films that highlight the complexities of life in ways that are artistic and lasting. When I see a film that is willing to surpass the mediocrity of sugar coated storytelling and thematic statements, it takes me time to unpack the meaning and purpose of the film and in turn it inspires to implement similar techniques in my own work.

What are your favorite kind of films?

I went through an intense horror phase during my first two years at JPCatholic, which led me down the never-ending rabbit hole of independent cinema. It’s amazing how much is out there from people who aren’t afraid to tell stories that are unique and unforgettable yet come from people who are just like us. I also love the films showcased and restored from The Criterion Collection. There’s a lot of great, overlooked cinema in there that has really taught me a lot recently.

Who is your favorite director and why?

My favorite director is Richard Linklater, you might know him from School of Rock or Boyhood. I think he has an incredible way of creating an escape for his audience that replicates real life. It amazes me that I am able to escape real life through watching his films. He’s got an incredible artistic vision and is definitely one of my biggest influences.

What prompted you to recently start writing for the Impacting Culture blog?

I guess I’ve got a lot to say. I enjoy discussing and debating films more than I’m proud to say, but I felt I could provide some refreshing opinions to the blog. I reached out to Joe Houde with an idea for a series on film analysis of lesser known and controversial films. I sent him a sample analysis for Boyhood. After that, I signed on to write weekly articles on various topics such as screenwriting and filmmaking techniques, film analysis and occasional movie reviews.

What are your top three movie recommendations?

I would say Before Sunrise, Swiss Army Man, and The Witch, all of them are different from each other, but there’s a lot to learn from each of them.

What are your post-graduation plans?

I definitely plan on staying in California and possibly attending grad school to study screenwriting. There are a handful of other options up in the air of course, but we’ll see what happens.

Do you have any advice for freshmen/incoming students?

Never put less than 110% in your work and allow yourself to fail, however many times you need to. Find what works for you and be honest with yourself to find something you love and stick with it. Drown yourself in as many movies as you can and when you have found a style or genre that speaks to you, stick with it and don’t ever look back.