what is your name?
Benjamin David Umstead. Or well, just Ben. I had a book entitled that when I was a kid.
how would you describe what you do?
With all it’s ups and downs, both internal and external… I’m a storyteller – with pen, paper, the camera, the computer.
what are you currently working on?
I’m in the thick of the Tribeca Film Festival writing movie reviews, so all prose is on hold at the moment.
what has had the greatest influence on your work?
Hmmm a “what” rather than a “who”… well… when I’ve drawn from my own experiences, that has usually resulted in some of my best work, even if said work is a supernatural, fantastical piece. It’s all about that emotional truth or intrinsic truth. What you relay between the lines, between each sentence, word or letter, that feels far more important… what resonates, what is transmutable.
what is the greatest misconception about you or your work?
I don’t think my work has been read or seen wide enough to have garnered any misconceptions yet. Though I’d be glad to say otherwise.
what do you see as the main strengths and weaknesses of the medium you work in?
Fiction can be fast and prompt, you don’t need anyone else to help execute a vision. When the great muse whispers in your ear you can just dive right in. Relaying an image that might be more appropriate for a film, more ambiguous let’s say; it can sometimes be hard to find the right words for that.
how has technology impacted upon the work you do?
I do most of my writing on the computer so it’s a means to an end; my infernal machine, my friend, my foe.
what’s the greatest piece of advice you would like to pass on?
Follow your bliss. When in doubt, breathe consciously, and seek the company of others.
where can we find you online?
My film writing can be found at Twitchfilm.com
My film work can be found at vimeo.com/benumstead
My photography can be found at flickr.com/photos/benumstead
Unfortunately my prose does not have a current online home.
what are you reading at the moment?
“Autobiography of A Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda for my spiritual apprenticeship at a consciousness school. “The Wasp Factory” by Iain Banks, and “Livability” by Jon Raymond, who is also the co-writer of my favorite film of the year thus far “Meek’s Cutoff”.
what are you listening to at the moment?
The ambient guitar workings of Noveller… just got my Stravinsky and Shostakovitch discs back, as they had been in a closet in Brooklyn for ten months, so I’m happy about that (although how one could be happy about listening to a Shostakovitch symphony is kind of ironic), and Smoke Fairies are on a constant loop.
anything else we should know?
If anyone would like to give me some kind of paid full time or part time job writing I’d be happy to oblige them.