Our next Expat Filmmaker in Berlin is Benjamin Packer. Originally from country South Australia, Benjamin is now working as a colourist in Berlin and Europe.
After studying media at the University of Adelaide, Benjamin moved to Berlin to continue studying and working in the industry. He has worked on productions such as “Space is Smaller Than the Space Between Us” by Tamara Hardman, which was nominated in the South Australian Screen Award for Best Drama before securing a job in Berlin with Big Fish Film Productions. We find out why how he became a colourist and what ist like to work in Europe.
How did you decide to become a colorist as a profession?
Ben - I was working for KOJO in Adelaide in their machine room after doing a university placement. I learned all about the basics of post-production here working on commercials and features and during my time worked up from MCR to online editor. I was working quite closely with Marty Pepper - outstanding colourist who inspired me to follow that path.
Did you actively search for courses outside of Australia? Why?
Ben - I wasn’t searching specifically outside of Australia but I was looking for some more in-depth training. The programs I found were either online courses or weekend boot camps, which is not nearly enough time to cover the field. I then saw one of the top Colour Scientists in our field mention the UP.GRADE program at DFFB and looked into it. It is the only comprehensive long-term training program available in the world and only 10 people are accepted to study each year. Of those ten, only two can be from outside the EU. I tried my luck and was selected - it was an opportunity I could not turn down.
How have you found working in the industry in Berlin?
Ben - I absolutely love the industry in Berlin. There is a real premium on creating and is everyone is willing to help out and get projects created. There is quite a strong passionate base in Berlin and you can find whatever kind of projects you want here. I've worked on dance films, travel films, drama pieces, experimental films - you name it and you can find it here. The Berlin film industry really relies on freelancers so you get to meet a lot of really interesting, creative and inspiring people on different projects which is great as everyone brings something different to it.
Have you managed to survive on industry work alone since finishing your studies?
Ben - I'm still fairly fresh in the Berlin industry as a full-time worker but so far so good. I've been fortunate enough to find a place with BigFish film production and get plenty of solid work with them as well as time to work on my own projects and develop as a colourist. I've plenty of friends in Berlin who have made quite a nice way forward from freelancing too.
With so much 'behind the scenes' work you do, essentially after shooting is finished, do you still feel the excitement of working in the industry in Berlin?
Ben - We like to encourage as much as possible that post productions starts before pre-production. Getting a Colourist involved as early as possible in a project will help out in many ways in the long run. One of the most valuable places for this is in camera costume and makeup tests. Knowing how these things respond to a camera and on a screen, as well as how far they can be reasonably pushed in post helps guide the shooting process. Being a colourist is more than just making things look nice together, it also requires a fairly solid understanding of how we perceive the world. Understanding the tricks of the eye can help guide a production through what could otherwise be some pretty tricky traps.
What are your favourite things about the city?
Ben - I love the people, the culture, the energy of the city. Berlin is such a fun city and really does offer something for everyone.
Thank you, Ben.
Check out Benjamin's work on his own Vimeo link, within the DFFB highlights trailer, and in 'The Keeper Of Small Things', made with fellow Australian director living abroad, Emma Sullivan, and part of Aarhus 2017 in Denmark. If you'd like to learn more about the UP.GRADE program, check out their Facebook page or website for more information.
All images ©Benjamin Packer
Charmaine Gorman is an Australian actress and writer living in Berlin with her family. As a content writer and editor, she works for many clients around the world, and along with her husband, is the founder and content manager of the online travel guide My Guide Berlin