OC x Tribeca Film Festival: Benjamin Dickinson of 'First Winter'
The Tribeca Film Festival has begun! If you’re in the New York area from now until April 29, we suggest you head to any of the festival’s cinema locations to view all the shorts, narratives, and documentaries up for grabs. To mark the event, we will be featuring some of our favorite actors, writers, and directors from the festival.
What do you do when you’re on a yoga retreat in upstate New York and the apocalypse finally rides on in? There are some things meditation just can’t fix! Ben Dickinson’s First Winter
follows a group of young Brooklynites who are victim to just this. Shot in 16mm film and using only natural light and candles, the film’s aesthetic runs parallel to the storyline—embracing simplicity and beauty. A Howard Street local, Ben dropped by the studio last week to chat.
Name and age:
Benjamin Dickinson, 30
Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
Scorpio. Moon sign: Gemini
What are you currently obsessed with?
Krishnamurti, Biggie Smalls, Big Baby Gandhi, and Kombucha
Supernatural power you would like to possess?
It's always hard to choose between flying and being invisible, isn't it? If only you could have both. Unfortunately, that would violate the limitations of hypothetical superpower theory.
If you had to be stuck on a desert island with someone, who would it be?
I think I'd just be alone
Favorite Pandora station?
How did First Winter come about?
Lindsay (who plays Marie) and I met Paul (who plays Paul) up at Heartland (Paul's farm/retreat) a few years ago, and we found that he shared similar interests in sustainable living and homesteading like us. We started spending a lot of time up there. I really wanted to capture the experience of living in this type of community—the good and the bad. I think we are in a bit of a spiritual crisis as a society, so the post-apocalyptic scenario seemed like a way to explore the crossroads of all of these ideas.
What was the hardest and easiest thing about shooting the film?
The hardest thing: I like to think of making film as casting a magic spell, and the director is like a shaman of some kind. But the magic is kind of powerful and sometimes the shaman gets the biggest dose of his own medicine. I know that sounds cryptic but it's because I meant it to be.
The easiest thing was living together at the farm—cooking food and being a family—that was just the best.
If you could watch only three films for the rest of your life, what would they be?
If I'm being totally honest, based on my past film-watching tendencies, they would be Manhattan
, Annie Hall
, and Hannah and her Sisters
. When it comes down to it, Woody Allen has made the three most watchable films of all time. Wait that's crazy, let's try: Annie Hall
, Blade Runner
, and Don't Look Back.
Describe the strangest location you've ever shot at.
I did a TV commercial for the Scissor Sisters years ago (it got shelved). We shot it somewhere way out in the Valley in LA, at a special effects place that felt like something out of Mad Max.
There were junkyard dogs roaming around, I think they may have had a store of heavy artillery under the floorboards, like a militia type thing.
Favorite movie snack from the concession stand?
It's hard to beat popcorn
If you weren’t working in films, what would you be doing?
Studying Carl Jung at a prestigious university. Or I'd be homeless.
Images by Brayden Olson.
tribeca film festival