Ben Stranahan: Hollywood the Land of Dreams
Hollywood is all about business and business can be tough. People that don’t come from families in the industry can attest to how difficult it is to make a name for yourself. Ben Stranahan is one producer that is definitely making a name for himself. He attributes this to always staying one step ahead. He’s not the typical Hollywood producer big shot you’d imagine though. He’s actually pretty down-to-earth. He takes pleasure in the simple things: playing with his cats, making music, and of course making independent films.
In spite of Hollywood’s tough business market, Ben continues to make highly successful independent films. He believes that staying one step ahead and focusing on what’s next, along with years of perseverance and self-improvement, have played a huge part in his recent successes. For young artists brave enough to follow their Hollywood dreams, Ben offers the following advice: “Don’t get discouraged and don’t doubt yourself. It is a hard road, but a negative mindset will only make things tougher.”
Ben’s long journey to Hollywood stretches all the way back to his middle school years in Aspen, Colorado. Ben remembers his first stage appearance as “electrifying,” a moment that sparked his passion for storytelling and inspired him to pursue his dreams of working in film. “It was a magical experience; a defining moment in my childhood,” Ben recalls.
After discovering his passion for art and entertainment, Ben found himself seeking a new means of expression. He explored several different avenues throughout his high school years, including music, stage theatre, and finally filmmaking. He studied each craft in any way he could – through school, self-education, or simple experimentation. “Experience,” he claims, “is always the best teacher.” Ben studied singing, music, improvisation, movement, accents and dialects, stage combat (both armed and unarmed), and make-up.
After spending multiple summers studying music at Berklee College in Boston, he was accepted into the revered American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, where his Hollywood dream began to take shape. Ben spent the next three years learning everything he could about the industry. He enjoyed breaking down characters, learned to speak in several accents, including Southern, Standard RP, New England, and Irish, and excelled at both armed and unarmed stage combat. Upon finishing school, Ben began building his career as an actor, producer, and musician.
One of his cherished memories as a producer was when Mean Dreams, a drama/thriller starring Bill Paxton, premiered at the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival and as a Special Presentation at TIFF in 2016. The film has since been released theatrically in over ten countries and sold in over fifty. Ben also produced the acclaimed thriller Calibre, released on Netflix in 2018. The film went on to be nominated for four BAFTAs, with star Jack Lowden taking home the award for Best Actor.
Ben explains his passion for making films as necessary. An artist needs to create just as a musician needs to make music. The path to filmmaking wasn’t straightforward. But the journey as a whole has been rewarding and it led me to my niche. I have hobbies I enjoy and a career that I love. “I can imagine myself doing other things with my life, but I can’t see myself enjoying it as much as this. This is what I love and need to do. It’s what I’m meant to do,” Ben explains. “ I feel at home both in front of the camera and behind the camera, among other artists and creatives.” Ben understands that Hollywood is all about the future or your next big moment, but that only pushes him harder. “I put all of myself into every film I produce. I know that my hard work is appreciated, but I also realize that the things they say about Hollywood are true, it’s a place where you can acquire fame and wealth, but nothing is ever guaranteed and you must do it for the love of the craft.”
For more information on the production house, visit www.tip-topproductions.com.