Brendan and his family arrived on Bainbridge Island when he was just three years old. After graduating from Bainbridge High School in 2016, he headed to Los Angeles to attended USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in their Film and Television Production Program, graduating in 2020. “I am very grateful to grow up in a place like BI and cherish every opportunity I get to come home,” he said.
His exposure to the theater and storytelling began at an early age. His mother, a theater producer, frequently took Brendan and his brother to shows, either because she was working the production, or because she felt it was something they should see. It was during those early years that he became enamored with the performing arts and began taking acting classes and working backstage. When he finally got his hands on a video camera, he started making home movies. As a high schooler, he worked at Bainbridge Performing Arts in the box office, as well as assisting to run the front of the house for Shakespeare at Bloedel Reserve. In addition, he was an assistant teacher for summer theater school classes.
Having graduated college in the midst of a pandemic, Brendan and his peers found themselves taking whatever work they could to make a living. One such project was a Virtual Production (VP)* short film in collaboration with the Entertainment Technology Center at USC and partners, including Amazon Studios, Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, and Microsoft to see how Virtual Production technology could be utilized to help make productions safer during Covid. Brendan was brought on to produce the project.
“Virtual production is a very new technology being used in films and television for bigger-budget studio productions. Essentially Virtual Production replaces the need for a lot of greenscreens on set. So instead of having a solid green background where the visual effects are then created in post-production, the world and effects are created before in prep. Once these backgrounds are created using a video game engine, they are able to be projected on LED walls that go behind the actors and sets,” Brendan explained.
“The benefit this provides for film productions is immense and immediate flexibility to make changes to the scenery on the fly including major set design and time of day. Since almost every kind of location can be recreated on the LED screens, this means that productions no longer need to shoot on location in harsh conditions, and unpredictable weather,” he continued.
Since then, he’s produced two more short films using VP and his company has been hired to produce or consult on some tech test shoots, short films, and a keynote for Amazon, all of which use this production platform. He also noted that VP is still a very new technology, but is already being used for projects like The Madelorian, Rings of Power, House of the Dragon, Thor: Love and Thunder & more.
For the most part, Brendan has mainly focused on producing and editing. “The primary job of a producer is to help the director find the heart of the story and provide an environment in which they can do their best work telling the story in the most interesting way possible given the resources available,” he said. “To me, I really love seeing projects through every step of the process from the script all the way through post.” He went on to explain that its like a “puzzle of logistics and creative solutions”, managing a million different components and trying to anticipate possible production disasters. “Being able to help see the bigger picture when a director is so focused on the ever-important minute details in a scene are all part of why I love the job so much…It just takes a lot of patience, flexibility, and knowing when you should need to be a drill sergeant vs when you should be a cheerleader.”
Editing is also a part of the “fun” puzzle, Brendan said. Reconciling the original script with the footage that was shot and dealing with production, budget, scheduling issues, bad weather and numerous other things that can lead to challenges are all part of the job, and something Brendan really enjoys unravelling. “Often when the footage finally appears in the editing room it’s entirely different and hardly recognizable from the original script. As an editor, it’s exciting to figure out exactly what is and isn’t working. The puzzle and compromise of how to tell the best story using the footage that was captured with the script as a guide but not allowing yourself to be married to it line-for-line.”
However, as much as Brendan loves producing and editing, he also loves developing scripts and working on new ideas when time allows. That’s where the Amy Award comes in. “This award will allow for even more flexibility and freedom to fully flesh out some of these concepts and get some of these scripts across the finish line,” he said. “Producing and editing will always be something I love, and I will continue doing both for as long as I can manage but I’m also hoping to have a project where I’m attached as a writer get greenlit so that I can dedicate my full attention to writing a specific story.”
Since the pandemic, Brendan has had two projects in development with production companies in Los Angeles, which are still in the works. He’s also writing a half-hour pilot and is halfway through a feature screenplay. This new script will be his first feature film screenplay and he’s very excited to be given the opportunity via the Amy Award to make it happen.
Of course, I had to ask: What about the Manhattan Short Film Festival? Would you ever consider entering? “Yes! I went to a screening or two when I was younger and had a blast and yes, absolutely one of these years when I have the right project, it is on my list.”
In closing, I asked Brendan if there were any fun anecdotes he could share about his career. “I’m not much of a music person but I was the production manager on a music video and had been working on it for nearly a month. I was told the name of the artist but I didn’t recognize them and thought nothing more of it,” he said. “The day before the shoot I was sending out the call sheet and my roommates saw that the artist for the music video was Walk the Moon. They all freaked out, one of them had even gone to three concerts of theirs. We all thought it was terribly funny how naively unaware I was of who they were or how much of a following they had!”
Brendan’s work has screened at prestigious festivals throughout the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, France, Denmark, and Greece, by more than 11 million people online. For more information, visit his website: Brendan Bennett (bennettbrendan.com)
About The Amy Award – This award has been given annually since 2001 to an emerging artist from Bainbridge Island, under the age of 35, whose work demonstrates “a sense of quality, creativity, exploration, and dedication.” Managed by Arts & Humanities Bainbridge through an endowment held at the Bainbridge Community Foundation, the award was established and funded by David and Caren Anderson in memory of their late daughter, Amy, who was deeply involved in the visual and performing arts. Bainbridge Arts & Crafts and Bainbridge Performing Arts select recipients in alternating years.
*If you’d like to learn more about Virtual Production, click here.
This article was previously published in A&HB’s Currents Online: https://www.bainbridgecurrents.com/stories/article/introducing-the-2022-amy-award-for-emerging-artists-winner-brendan-bennett/
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