Steven Ball
Marie Craven
Solrun Hoaas
Daryl Dellora

Melbourne independent filmmakers

Leo Berkeley
Giorgio Mangiamele
Michael Buckley
Moira Joseph
 
     


Ben Speth
(Benjamin Philip Speth)
b. September 16, 1963,
Bend, Oregon, USA.

BIOGRAPHY:   Ben Speth lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.

 

He grew up in NYC, worked with Paul Morrissey, Yvonne Rainer, Stuart Sherman, Tere O'Connor and John Jasperse among others. Has done Lighting and set design for various artists at P.S.122, Movement Research and The Dia Foundation. Worked as director of photography on music videos (The Ramones, David Lee Roth, Ricky Martin, Everything But The Girl), documentaries (Paris Is Burning, Treyf, Trembling Before G_d, My Friend Paul) and feature films (The Delta, Junk). Moved to Melbourne, 2000; worked with Jenny Kemp (Still Angela), Margie Medlin, (Elasticity and Volume, Mobility in an Artificial City), Ros Warby (Solos, Swift, Monumental), Shelley Lasica (History Situation), Scott Rankin (Ngapartji Ngapartji), Lyndal Jones (The Avoca Project) and Ross Gibson (Shadowlands).

Speth's first feature film as writer/director/d.o.p., dresden (1999) was licensed by the Showtime Network and was shown at the Sundance, Belfort, Mar del Plata, New York Underground and Brisbane film festivals, among others. In 2002 he was commissioned by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image to make a silent work entitled dummy. His second feature film, Forever, was part of the ACMI/NGV show 2004: A Survey of Recent Australian Visual Culture. In 2005 he completed Satellite, a feature film that premiered the same year at the 53rd Melbourne International Film Festival.

Between 2007 and 2015 Speth wrote and directed 5 plays: Make Me Cry (2007), WeTubeLIVE (2010), Doomstruck Oedipus, Why Are You Here? (2010), Affinity (2012) and iliads (2015). He is currenty writing poetry and making music with Marco Cher-Gibard in a band called sister. The texts for his films and plays (including films not made and plays un-performed) can be found on his website: http://www.benspeth.com. sister can be heard at: https://sisterarchive.bandcamp.com/.



CRITICAL OVERVIEW:   I used to paint, I've made films and now I'm thinking more and more about live performance; there are so many images these days, a living breathing person performing has more resonance.... I do these things because I'm trying to make sense of myself and the world around me.

In an interview with David Sylvester, Francis Bacon spoke of the difficulty of putting several figures in a picture without telling a story.

He did not want to tell a story - photography and film were already doing that - he was interested in a 'psychical impact.' One can see the results of similar pursuits - utilizing different means and materials - in Rauschenberg's combines and in the durational films of Andy Warhol. Rauschenberg did it by mixing and aestheticising objects, garbage and paint, seemingly disparate elements into an affective whole.

Warhol did it with time and film and later video asking the viewer to sit and look and think.

To paraphrase James Agee on Walker Evens, 'who are you who will study these images, what is your responsibility for them and what will you do about them?' I do not know that these concerns crossed the minds of the above artists but while looking at their work it crossed mine. While not overtly political, there is an ethical foundation to my practice.

Since 1984 I have worked in the film industry, for most of that time as a cinematographer. It is not without some exasperation that I relate, that as a professional cinematographer, most of my pre-production and on-set conversations with directors, producers and performers have been about maximizing budgets and 'solving 'problems' and not about the aesthetic or ethical possibilities of the form.

In 1994, solely because it was air conditioned, I wandered into a Chinatown movie theatre and saw Ashes of Time by Wong Kar-wai. I was enthralled. It was as if all the materialist vitality of the New Wave had been re-directed from overtly political to personal ends; this was not managing money or problem solving, this was poetry.

Ashes of Time is why I put down my brushes and decided to make films: To explore the ethical, material and metaphoric possibilities of the medium.

Ben Speth, May 2008.


FILMOGRAPHY:

 
 
Forever

The A.R.C. Players (1994, 57 mins, Digital Beta, Documentary)
co-directed by Michael Sean Edwards

dresden (1999, 82 mins, 16mm, Drama/Documentary)

Tour # 1 (2001, 57 mins, Digital Beta, Documentary)

dummy (2002, DVD video installation)

Forever (2004, 75 mins, Digital Beta, Drama/Documentary)

Satellite (2005, 82 mins, Digital Beta, Drama/Documentary)

Untitled (2006, 22 min, Digital Beta, Documentary)

dresden (1999, 82 mins)
Forever (2004, 75 mins)

Satellite (2005, 82 mins)


Ben Speth, July 2017

Ben Speth's website

Contact Ben Speth

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Melbourne independent filmmakers is compiled by Bill Mousoulis