We love: Ben Williams

27 July, 2012 2:41pm

Precious Time: Why Ben A Williams is the UK's most exciting new film maker.

Beethoven's 9th Symphony clocks in at over an hour. Forrest Gump had 142 mins. Rocky Balboa had six films in which to find his way into our hearts. Good films, good music and good characters,usually take their time winning us. We can’t fall in love with a leading lady straight away, and even the villain of the piece needs to do a fair few nasty things to get completely into our bad books. In a feature film, the writer and director have plenty of time to create those identifiable, love ‘em or hate ‘em characters that ultimately draw us into the film.

Take Tyrannosaur. Even the dispicable Joseph gets our sympathy eventually. This film, though, had over 90 minutes and a £750,000 budget to play with.

The challenge of the short film maker, then, whose budget probably pales in significance next to the cash Tyrannosaur has up its sleeve (and even that isn’t much compared to most features) is to devise a compelling plot and engaging characters viewers can identify with, fall in love with and want to watch again and again - in just a few minutes.

This is frequently the pitfall of the short film maker. Many either fail at the challenge or ignore it in favour of making a more gimmicky, less character driven film. After all, as has been demonstrated in previous articles, shorts often provide a platform for film makers to go on to features by enabling them to get their name and their talent out on display. This can easily lead to blowing the budget on props and equipment, focusing on effects rather than brilliant scripts and engaging perfornances. But short films should be a showcase of a film maker's talent and creativity. Enter Ben A Williams.

 

Using no more than two or three actors and enchanting scripts, he has created, in my opinion, some of the best short films of recent years. Take his Tube Tube project which best demonstrates this, particularly the episode 'Bonsai', a masterclass in short film making. Essentially a four-minute monologue, it uses one shot throughout. There are silences, there is very little action and very little editing. But the acting and script are truly captivating, and when the lead character is left alone with tears in her eyes, we find ourselves feeling moved and sympathetic towards her, even though she hasn’t spoken a single word - such is the brilliance of Williams' script-writing.

I find the reserved nature of his films extremely comforting in this new age of noise, even if his stories are often tragic. As a viewer, it’s refreshing to sit there and wait for the magic of a film to slowly reveal itself.

Good things come to those who wait.

By Tiernan Banks

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