Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A New BFF Judge!

Benedict Campbell 
The Bridge Film Festival judges reflect on and evaluate each entry and give constructive suggestions to our filmmakers. They are either filmmakers, activists, educators or Quakers, and more often than not, our judges are a combination of all four.

Our newest judge, Benedict Campbell meets all of these criteria. Benedict is a New York City-based Quaker, filmmaker, and founder of BlackAuk, a content production company. Benedict is a writer and director focused on fictional dramas for short and feature films. His interest in filmmaking grew from photography, leading him to study film & television at New York University.

His short film, Lloyd Neck, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and screened at 20 international film festivals. The film won Best Director at the HollyShorts Festival. His short documentary, The Watch & The War, premiered on

He recently completed A Quaker Sound, a short film that screened at the 2017 Provincetown Film Festival. Benedict is a member of the Bronx Filmmakers Collective and was a Teaching Artist at The Ghetto Film School. He is developing The High Bridge, a feature film about a teenager confronting fatherhood in the Bronx.

Below is an interview with Benedict about his film "A Quaker Sound:

BFF - Why did you make this film?

Benedict - I grew up attending Meeting and I realized at an early age that there's a gap in understanding Quakers. Quakers are confused with the Amish because the only visual reference is the imagery on the oats in the grocery store. I wanted to dispel a popular misconception and show Quakers in a modern setting. The Meeting I attended in Jericho is where we shot the film. The sunlight in that space, the windows, and the wood stoves definitely made an impression on me and I wanted a story that allowed for capturing those sensory details. I'm wary of trying to say too much in a short film. Since Quakers embrace simplicity, I focused on a simple story in a setting both unique and historic.

BFF - Who was your intended audience and what message were you trying to convey?

Benedict - The inclusion of certain procedural details and visual cues universal to Meetings might conjure some nostalgia in the Quaker community around the experience of Meeting. It would be wonderful if Quakers from diverse background or family situations saw themselves reflected on screen. Since the setting is so specific, I thought audiences unfamiliar with Quakers might develop an understanding they didn't have before. Historic settings don't have to have historic characters and there's a pointed use of technology in the film to remind us of that.

BFF - How did you choose the cast?

Benedict -I chose the best talent available and I worked with a terrific casing director. I knew Aubrey (Elias) was right for it when I saw his tape. I found out later that he played Simba in The Lion King and I'm not surprised he's landed some big roles since filming this. I didn't want Elias's grandmother to be a sweet movie grandma. It was important for her to show how difficult aging can be. Movies also make any relationship that might appear different the focal point of a story or feel a need to explain them when there's nothing that unusual and no explanation is necessary. I see it as expecting the audience to accept it and effectively daring them to question it. Arthur French (James) had a great look for the role of a stern clerk and Steve Beauchamp (Henry) was the perfect counterweight to keep their dynamic light.

BFF - What is the most challenging part of the filmmaking process?

Benedict -Writing can be hard, and fundraising, and the logistics of shooting. Then there's the challenge of getting it seen. A major challenge for us was a leaf blowing crew that refused to leave during shooting. It made it impossible to record dialogue for a period. We shot on Super16mm film and I didn't see any footage for over a month. You always worry there's light leaks or damage or maybe nothing came out but we had an experienced crew and all was fine. I have a lot of patience for the process and it's always worth it when you see your finished film on screen.

BFF - What advice to have for first time filmmakers?

Benedict - I think it's important to write something you know you can make if you want to see it on screen. Think of a great location you have access to and a story you might set there. Storyboards are a critical part of my process. I recommend drawing out every scene like a comic book because it forces you to think exactly what you want your movie to look like. When you're in production, make sure you have good food and good sound.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Never More Important!

It has never been more important to teach our students the skills and values necessary to effectively communicate in today’s digital world. Since 2000 our film festival has given voice to student filmmakers from Friends schools worldwide. Each year we ask our network of Quaker schools to submit films and public service announcements that celebrate our diversity and reflect our shared values.

Please encourage your school community to get involved with the Bridge Film Festival. For complete details go

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Branch Out with the QYLC 2018

For the fifth year in a row the Bridge Film Festival will be presenting films at the Quaker Youth Leadership Conference in Durham North Carolina on Friday, February 2nd. 

This year the conference is hosted by Carolina Friends School with help from New Garden Friends School. The theme of the conference this year will be "Growing Communities through service and storytelling. A perfect fit!  A selection of films, reflective of the conference theme will be chosen from the Bridge Film Festival YouTube Channel and screened at the event.

Since 1999 the Quaker Youth Leadership Conference has invited six upper school students and two faculty members from Friends Schools worldwide to a three-day gathering of learning, service, worship and fun.  Although the name of the conference is a bit of a misnomer because the vast majority of attendees are not of the Quaker faith, I consider the QYLC to be the preeminent gathering in Friends education.

Each school selects their students in their own unique way. While the students may come from very diverse places, at the conference there is an notable atmosphere of respect and celebration of the individual as well as of our shared values
. If your upper school has not attended this extraordinary event in the past, there is never a better time than now to sign up and join this celebration of community! 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Update: "Quaker Film Course"

Last February, the first Bridge Film Festival entries for 2017 was received from Friends School Mullica Hill with an inspirational letter about how the BFF was influential in a Quaker Studies course. With film advisor and teacher, Jared Valdez's permission, it was included in a post about the experience, "Quaker Film Course"

As fate would have it, the class won a Judges' Choice Award for their Public Service Announcement,  "Be a Friend, Not a Bully."

Head of School, Beth Reaves, presented 7th grade with their trophy and certificates for winning the Judge's Choice Award at the Bridge Film Festival. Congratulations 7th Grade!