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Meet the Finalist: Benjamin Folstein, "Zog: The First Feminist"

Tell us about yourself, and about Zog: The First Feminist.

HI! I'm Benjamin Folstein, a New York City resident, currently making a living as an art swing on film sets. Zog: The First Feminist is one of a series of "animusicational" videos I've been developing since about 2016. The project on a whole is an attempt to reach out to children and address topics that their parents aren't necessarily keen to discuss. The potential existence of god, what happens when you die, or where babies come from are a few of these. This particular film is a fanciful speculation on who the very first feminist might have been, and what sort of challenges she might have faced.

Share a memorable moment you experienced working on this project.

There is a brief time-lapse shot in the film in which a fish is devoured. Making that fish with my friend James Barber is the memory that comes back over and over. It's ten times bigger than the rest of the fish you see in the film. There was a wire skeleton covered in sculpey, which we then encased in alginate. Next, James carved the alginate to shape and we copper-leafed the whole thing. Next thing you knew we were tearing the thing apart on camera, and it's then basically trash. All for a one-second shot. That's film for ya!

Name 3 collaborators that you'd take with you to any other project.

Elise Reynard is the star of the thing, and of most of the past and upcoming vids. She' a lifelong teacher and performer, and through her performance and workshopping she has been my chief collaborator on this project. I went to college with her in New Mexico (College of Santa Fe!!) so there is a common language as well as a sense of trust that I find makes the best partnerships.

James Barber I mentioned above. I met him through work. Not only is he a pleasure to be around socially, he's a really good sculptor, and has a clear understanding of the production process.

Finally I'll mention Paul Groetzinger. I also went to college with him and he helped me to produce the album on which all this forthcoming video material is based. He has all of the above mentioned qualities: long history of friendship, common technical and stylistic language, and a deep understanding of the process of production.

3 tips you’d like to share with aspiring artists in your field:

1: Get started. Don't be afraid to make something crappy and then learn from it.

2: Keep pumping out lots of crap and learning.

3: Know the right time to make something great, and then take the time to make it great.

What do you hope to achieve in your career in the next 5 years?

I would love it if someone would give me money to make something that was my idea.Here's Hoping! Regardless I'll almost certainly be working on the next album and the next series of films by then.

Benjamin Folstein is nominated for Best Music Video of the Year at the New York Film Awards.


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