I’ve had days where the thought of never going outside has definitely crossed my mind. Not in the Waydowntown kind of way where you literally can’t step outside – which is a lot less fun – but the kind involving working from home, ordering in groceries, and not having to deal with the pitfalls of social or work obligations. This is the decision the titular Ben, of Ben’s At Home, makes after turning 30 and dealing with a bad breakup. The film follows Ben’s struggles, as he wrestles with the choice between participating with society or its simulacrum via social media.
Toronto-based filmmaking team Dan Abramovici (co-writer, and star of the film as Ben) and Mars Horodyski (director, and co-writer) recognized the potential in the concept early on. “It was a concept where we didn’t have to compromise with our budget, where all characters could come to the main character,” says Horodyski. She adds that it was an “unconventional process”, with the pair jumping from writing the script to filming in just one month. Shooting took 10 days, and was done in Abramovici’s own apartment, with his actual dog, Schnitzel (I hope Abramovici will forgive me if I say that Schnitzel is truly the star of this movie).
Ben’s At Home cost $20,000 to make, and was paid for partially out of the duo’s own pockets and partially through crowdfunding. “We were so lucky to have people donate time, money, services… this movie would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars without help from the indie film community,” Abramovici says.
Abramovici and Horodyski met on a short film Horodyski directed, when she cast Abramovici. They then worked together on a short, TOLLER, that aired on MTV. This is the pair’s first feature, and it’s filled with an extremely talented, award-winning Canadian cast, including Jim Annan and Rob Baker (Second City Mainstage alumni), Inessa Frantowski (Gemini Award Winner, Avicii video star); Craig Brown (Canadian Comedy Award winner); Jess Embro, Clara Pasieka (David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars); and Kimberly Sue-Murray (Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak).
“In Canada, we don’t have a star system available,” Abramovici says. “We were about to reach out directly to some of these great talents.”
The pair’s next project is tentatively titled You Have Feet in Your Shoes. The coming out story will follow a brother and sister on a road trip. The screenplay was chosen as one of the Top Ten Features at CINEQUEST‘s Screen Writing Competition 2015. They plan to make this one a larger feature, with a larger budget to match.
Ben’s At Home opened at the Globe Cinema on Friday, and will be playing for a week-long run at 9:10 p.m. each night. On July 16th, it’ll be available on VOD.