About this submission

As a child I always loved exploring places that had a story to tell. I used to visit Europe every year with my grandmother, and while she tried to get me to appreciate the baroque architecture, I was looking for a way to climb to the top of it. This film was produced with the advice of Werner Herzog, with the theme "filming on a strange planet" and when I walked 5 miles off the highway and laid eyes on the hotel for the first time, it felt otherworldly. The story came out of that image, and a desire to explore this beautiful place.

Ben Senior is an independent writer, director, and producer based in Chicago, IL. Senior got his start at age 13, studying at Infinity Arts Academy with professional film and stage actor Kevin Lucero Less. He was involved in the production of several IAA films, most notably Aftermath (2014), Mens Rea (2017), Disjoin (2017), The Front (2018), and Fox Hunting (2019). His first solo short film, The Routine (2017), won Best Student Film at the Illinois International Film Festival. After being accepted into a summer filmmaking program at Emerson College, Senior wrote and directed How To: Be a Man (2018), which took 2nd place at the WHYY Youth Media Awards and received the award for Outstanding Live Action Film at the MetroWest Film Festival, in addition to screening at the Minneapolis International Film Festival, the All-American High School Film Festival, and Blow-up International Art House Film Fest. Senior produced his first feature in Senior year of high school, the no-budget dramatic romance The Fall (2019), shot by and starring other high school students. During production, Senior and producer Claire Cohen were featured in an article from The Daily North Shore. The film premiered on August 14th, 2019 at the Wilmette Theatre to a sold-out crowd. It screened at a variety of festivals including The Festival of the Arts of Starved Rock County, The Orlando International Film Festival, The Seattle Film Festival, YoungFilmmakers NY and The Golden State Film Festival, in addition to winning several awards including Best Director at the FROSTBITE International Indie Fest, Best Central States Feature at the Central States Indie FanFilmFest, Best Coming of Age Feature at the World Premiere Film Awards, Best Screenplay at the Wake Forest Film Festival and the Rising Star Filmmaker Award at the Method Fest Film Festival. The film received an 8/10 review from Film Threat, with film critic Alan Ng calling it "a remarkable tale of adolescence". During the Covid-19 pandemic, Senior wrote and directed his second feature, Headwaters (2022), about a reclusive matriarch and her family. The film was shot on a $27,000 budget over the course of 11 days on location in Eagle River, Wisconsin, starring local Chicago actress Judi Schindler, known for her role in Theater Wit's "Admissions". The film is expected to be released in May of 2022. In the fall of 2021, Senior was invited along with 50 other filmmakers to study with legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog on the island of Lanzarote in the Spanish Canary Islands. During the 11-day program, Senior wrote, shot, and edited Hasta Siempre, a short film about two best friends exploring an abandoned hotel. As of 2022 the film is being considered for festival selection, and is available to watch online. As of Spring 2022, Senior in pre-production for his next feature, Glass Houses, about a college dropout living in the North Shore of Chicago. The film is expected to be released by the end of 2022. more...

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