Independent Epsidodic Pilot
Directed by Ben Strang
Live Action
Editorial
Scripted Content
Concept Creation

Beast

Beast, a coming-of-age digital series about a young boy in search of his missing fisherman father, won director Ben Strang the Grand Jury Award for Independent Episodic at SXSW. Set on the haunting yet starkly beautiful Smith Island, MD, the pilot episode quickly dives deep into a thrilling mystery and the setup for a season to come.
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The Story Synopsis

Beast, a coming-of-age digital series about a young boy in search of his missing fisherman father, won director Ben Strang the Grand Jury Award for Independent Episodic at SXSW. Set on the haunting yet starkly beautiful Smith Island, MD, the pilot episode quickly dives deep into a thrilling mystery and the setup for a season to come. We meet Daniel, a distraught, but determined teenager who just wants to know what happened to his dad after a mysterious disappearance at sea. Interweaving sci-fi components and grounded social drama, the series sets up a unique take on the age-old question: When is it time to give up and move on?

Always on a mission to tell honest, connective stories, Ben wanted Beast to feel like a documentary without looking like one.  In other words: As close, human and real as his numerous street photojournalism projects, but not leaning so far into the documentary aesthetic that the visual design felt accidental. To get there, Ben worked with David Bolen as DP, a long-time friend from film school. Together, the two had spent the first years of their careers shooting documentaries.

Achieving Beast’s sensational yet grounded look was simple: Ben and David shot the series on location in December, capturing starkly mysterious winter visuals of the remote fishing islands along the Chesapeake Bay. Working in such a remote setting, the pair relied on a small but nimble camera crew and shot nearly all of the film in the 45-minute golden-hour windows before sunset and after sunrise.

About The Production

The most challenging part of production was logistical. Due to the remote location, the entire cast, crew and production team had to stay on the island for the entirety of the eight-day shoot, bringing everything needed for the film with them. What’s more, at high tide, the road connecting the northern reaches of the island to the southernmost parts would flood, making trips back to base camp in their caravan of golf-carts literally impossible.

Behind the Scenes
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About The Director

Director, Ben Strang is a Maryland-native, an award-winning writer-director and a photographer. Operating out of Santa Monica, California his music video and commercial works have garnered millions of views and he has directed for blue-chip brands from around the world. As a photographer and a filmmaker, Ben’s work explores themes about holding onto the past, community identity, and the resilience of the human spirit and his latest project, BEAST won Best Independent Episodic at SXSW 2018 and the 2019 Telly Award for best director.

Awards

2020 Director’s Notes – Vimeo Premiere
2020 Omeleto – YouTube Premiere
2019 Telly Award Winner – Directing Craft
2018 SXSW Film Festival – Grand Jury Award
2018 Bentonville Film Festival – Jury Award
2018 Atlanta Film Festival – Nominee, Best Pilot
2018 Queen Palm International – Jury Award
2018 Dc Web Festival – Jury Award
2018 Salute Your Shorts – Jury Award

Interviews

“Aching to Make a Short? Follow Ben Strang’s Lead and Make It a Pilot”
— No Film School

“A Grieving Teenager Enlists a Hardened Fisherman in the Search for His Father in Ben Strang’s SXSW Winning ‘Beast’”.— Directors Notes

Project Credits 
  • Directed
    Ben Strang
  • Production
    Blueprint
  • Writer
    Ben Strang
  • Cinematography
    David Bolen
  • Visual Effects
    David Nieman
  • Eseraele Alemu
 
  • Editor
    Manuel Crosby
  • Original Music
    Nicholas Jacobson-Larson
  • Sound Design and Mix
    Sean Higgins
  • Titles
    Harshit Desai
  • Colorist
    Arianna Pane
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