Nick Benjamin

Nick Benjamin is a Brazilian-American writer/director, who has been experimenting with filmmaking since he was twelve years old. When he was only seventeen years old and a junior in high school, Nick won the award for Best Director/Picture at the Columbia College Hollywood summer film program for his short film How It Goes Down (2011). Since then, Nick has written, directed and produced several personal projects, as well as many student projects during his tenure at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Upon arriving at USC, Nick immediately jumped into working on a multitude of projects for undergraduate and graduate students alike. In 2018, he was a producer in several award-winning USC graduate theses including Here and Beyond (2018) and Something to Live For (2018). Nick was also nominated for a Student Academy Award for Co-Producing the multi-award-winning short film Under Darkness (2018). After graduating, he began his journey into the world of directing by assisting acclaimed directors such as Michael Bay and Brad Peyton during Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production on their respective films. Nick began directing music videos in his spare time, including “Flashback” by Holland Greco (2022), which made its debut on national television in 2022. Taking the skills that he acquired along the way, Nick is now focusing on writing and directing compelling and captivating stories of his own that encompass themes that look "outside the box" with a sense of wonder, while maintaining a thrilling edge.

Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
My project is about Henry, an apartment manager who struggles with agoraphobia and hypochondriasis, who believes he witnesses a murder. Once he realizes nobody is coming to his aid, he has to fend for himself, despite his current mental state.

What are your ambitions with your project?
My hope is to utilize my short as my directing calling card, as well as a proof of concept for an A State Of feature.


Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
I was surprised about how against the clock we would be, despite it being a short film. To add to that, I was honored to be amongst an incredibly collaborative team who added to the excitement and energy it took to complete the short.

For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
Anyone of mature age can watch my short, however those who struggle with mental health issues and the feeling of never being heard will be able to relate to the story.

Why should distributors buy your film?
I’m using this as a proof of concept to sell my talents as a director and to one day have the opportunity to direct a feature length version of my short.

How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?

I enjoy putting characters through the ultimate test; throwing them in unsettling or unfamiliar situations and having them figure out how to get out on their own. I have the most fun creating stories that revolve around characters who know nothing, but have to get themselves out.

Why did you decided to become a filmmaker?

As a kid, I was in love with all of the old monster movies, from the 50s all the way to the 90s. I couldn't get enough of King Kong, Rodan, Mothra, and especially Godzilla. My love continued after watching Jurassic Park for the first time. I watched that movie maybe a thousand times back to back, making me realize my life’s purpose: become a Geneticist and recreate dinosaurs. Despite their full support, I could see the slight worry in my parents’ eyes. I began making plans for a Dinosaur Theme Park, similar to the one in the movie. Anytime I needed more inspiration, I’d rewind the movie and watch it from the beginning. My dad had bought the double VHS box set, where one tape was the film itself, and the other was “The Making Of.” One day I thought, “yes, of course, I want to see how they did it” so I popped the movie into the VHS slot thinking I was about to learn how to regenerate a dinosaur. What I saw was magic unfolding in front of my eyes. The
animatronics, the groundbreaking visual effects, the excitement of working with a team of creators. It was certain then that I didn’t want to recreate dinosaurs, but I wanted to recreate moments like this as a storyteller to elicit the same experience I had when I first watched Jurassic Park. I knew I was destined to be a filmmaker. I guess I can thank my dad and Steven Spielberg for that!

Who is your role model?

Steven Spielberg inspired me to become a filmmaker, but my parents inspired me to continue the pursuit!

Which movies are your favorites? Why?

I have a love for sci-fi and thrillers. A story that can take you out of your own reality and a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat goes a long way for me!

Where do you look for inspiration for your films?

I look into my past life experiences. Things that I have witnessed or been a part of that inspire me to incorporate into my own stories. I also look at other people's artistic work as a source of motivation towards my own projects.

Which topics interest you the most?

As mentioned before, my favorite genres are sci-fi and thriller. I love the topic of “Man vs. The Unknown,” things that we can’t answer that can be deemed scary, supernatural, and out of this world.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?

I would say the ability to write, shoot, edit, and premiere a short film I only thought up last year has to be the highlight of my career so far.

What do you consider most important about filming?
I think the most important aspect of filmmaking is patience, especially with indie filmmaking. It’s the best practice any filmmaker can have should they ever get the chance to work on a higher budget film. Time won’t always be on your side, but it’s how you compartmentalize and get yourself to the next shot which makes for a fun and speedy day on set.

Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?

I love holding on the reaction of actors and waiting until the very last moment to reveal what it is they’re reacting to.

How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?

I think that many people are against the new age of postmodern filmmaking, but I personally believe that this is just the evolution of cinema today. We can all learn from a film made in the last fifty years versus a film made in the last five. It’s how people take those practices of storytelling and apply it to their own work that makes them great storytellers.

What can disappoint you in a movie?

If certain elements of the story don’t live up to the hype, or if it falls flat at the end. I don’t mind a film with no resolution, as long as it’s warranted and works for the story.

Who supports you in your film career?

I’m blessed and grateful to have a strong support system from everyone around me, including my wife, my friends, parents, and sister.

What are the reactions to your film? (opinion of spectators, film critics, friends and

The short is receiving positive feedback, which I’m thrilled about! I’m glad everyone is stirring up their own opinion about the ending - what really happened to Henry. I would have been happy if one person walked away and kept talking about it. That way I would have known it stuck to someone in some capacity.

Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?

I had the honor of visiting Sundance in 2017 through the Ignite program in partnership with the university I attended. It was an incredible experience and I hope to do it again soon!

What are your future plans in filmmaking carriere?

My goal in life is to write and direct. I’m hoping A State Of is the first step in that
dream and that it leads to bigger and more exciting opportunities!