Ben Venturina’s ‘Premonition’ debuts at Chelsea Film Festival

Ben Venturina with co-star Dana Sooko in ‘A Premonition’s Dream.’ Not autobiographical.

Ben Venturina with co-star Dana Sooko in ‘A Premonition’s Dream.’ Not autobiographical.

By Cristina DC Pastor

A Premonition’s Dream,” a short film produced, written, and directed by Ben Venturina, has been accepted into the ‪‎ October 16 to 19 Chelsea Film Festival‬. ‬It’s almost like a one-person production because he also played the narrative’s main character.

“To officially be a part of the independent film community in this manner truly is an honor,” said the Philippine-born Ben who is now a New York resident. He came to the U.S. at age 10 and joined his mother and brother who were long-time residents at Syosset in Long Island. “This accomplishment is a true validation that determination, focus and hard work truly pay off.”

“A Premonition’s Dream” was shot in just one day on location in Queens. The main character is New York photographer Ben, who is in a loveless relationship with his longtime, business-minded girlfriend. He meets a girl who is also an artist like him. The film explores how their blossoming relationship can potentially free both of them from their past.

“We shot the film in one day all throughout Queens,” Ben said. “It took seven months until the final edits were finished. I then submitted my film to Chelsea Film Festival just to see what would happen and it got accepted.”

Thirteen short films and 13 feature films will be screened throughout the festival to be hosted by The New School.

Ben talked about playing his namesake Ben and giving him life. “It’s hard to get roles in the beginning, but I’m taking notes from how Sylvester Stallone did in ‘Rocky,’ and how Matt Damon and Ben Affleck had their start as newbie actors in ‘Good Will Hunting.’”

For Ben, the route to filmmaking initially opened by way of the New York Film Academy.

'Determination, hard work truly pay off.'

‘Determination, hard work truly pay off.’

“I did a student film back in 2001 but since I didn’t have the ‘ins’ in the film world, I stopped and started working several full-time jobs,” he told The FilAm in an email interview.

But it was through his 12-year-old son – a son he had given up for adoption when he was a baby – that his interest in filmmaking was rebooted and is now becoming a more serious pursuit.

His son is playing the role of the younger version of one of the main characters in the Martin Scorsese film, “Revenge of the Green Dragons.”

“I’ve kept contact with my son throughout the years. He has been acting since he was a baby, being on ‘Sesame Street,’ ‘Nickelodeon,’ etc. He knew I always wanted to act, so when he (got the part in ‘Revenge’), he asked one of the casting directors to take a look at me and see if I can get a featured background role as one of the gang members. I ended up being cast and put in the movie,” he said.

“Ever since, I took advantage of the opportunity and started networking and started taking acting seriously by classes at Pearl Studios, and private acting classes from coaches. I started focusing on intense dramatic characters.”

This led to a series of background work for film and TV projects (“The Carrie Diaries,” “Girls”) and commercials (Budlight).

“With a great surprise, I was getting cast for a lot of projects. Then for a sizzle reel for pilot pitch, but unfortunately, it didn’t get picked up. Followed by few short films and student films, which then led to commercials,” he continued.

With daredevil audacity and equal parts persistence and humility, he continues to learn about filmmaking and meeting people who mattered. He’s been sending out his resume. He met up with a friend from Syosset High School whose film has been received in several festivals.

“I asked him for advice,” recalled Ben. “With my competitive nature I wanted to see If I can create a short film myself to test the water of producing and directing and to build my legitimacy as an artist and filmmaker.”

One day he hopes to produce a full-length feature film with his friend, videographer Joshua Alexander. In 2010, he and Joshua had partnered in a business venture – the lifestyle brand BenVen that makes urban-style shirts and caps. Alexander is the cinematographer for “A Premonition’s Dream.”

Ben and Joshua are focused on putting together more “raw and intense” short films that would eventually pave the way for their first feature film.

“There’s no such thing as ‘the perfect timing,’” said Ben, voicing the philosophy of one who does not easily succumb to giving up. “You create a goal for yourself, you build relationships and you align yourself with the right people to help you reach your goal. ‘It’s too hard’ should never be a reason to get discouraged.”

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