Faith in Film award winner's tales from Hollywood

Ben Capener in LA
Ben Capener in LA

The Jesuits in Britain have sponsored the fourth Insight Film Festival Faith in Film Student Film Award. The 2017 winner was Ben Capener, a Chemistry student from Manchester University. 

Winning the Faith in Film award was a turning point for Ben and his Chemistry degree “I had spent four years writing more scripts than equations, eventually conceding that I best try my hand at film making. To learn that I had been awarded the chance to try that hand in the world capital of film making just two days before my final exam was a great stress reliever.”

Ben’s prize was a six-week internship with Loyola Productions in Hollywood, a Jesuit-run film and multi -media production company focussing on cultural, political and religious issues. Ben explains “Loyola Productions is a tremendous team determined in their aim to inspire debate and discussion and introduce new ideas into their passionately produced content. My first contact was the President of Loyola Productions, Fr Eddie Siebert SJ. It is clear where Loyola Productions’ drive comes from after meeting with Eddie; one can’t help but be inspired to want to take part.”

“Coming from the valleys of Mid-Wales via a Chemistry degree, I was fully expecting my arrival to LA to be, if ever, much later on in my career. This internship offered not only the chance to be involved in production in Hollywood itself, but to also have that production contextualised within the passionate spirit of the Jesuits, and gave me a unique insight into faith inspired motivation that will carry on through my career.

“My understanding of faith was minimal prior to coming to Los Angeles, having grown up in primarily agnostic family. The topic of religion and faith had begun interest me after seeing films such as 'Silence' and 'The Mission'. I began to explore faith through different art forms, realising how the creative industries lend themselves to translating the concept of faith. My coming across Faith in Film award was timely as I had started to work on various scripts that discussed faith and its historical impact.”

The most memorable project for Ben during his internship was a collaboration with the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic at Loyola Law School, filming interviews with un-documented immigrants facing possible deportation. “This experience highlighted the importance of balancing production and subject matter”, Ben explained, “the clients we spoke to were victims of such cruel and unfair treatment and their willingness to share their struggles was inspiring”.

He also attended a board meeting to discuss the marketing of the Loyola Productions film “Blood of the Martyrs” – a documentary focussing on Jesuits living and dying during the El-Salvadorian civil war in the 1980s. “As an agnostic, I must say that seeing the product of Loyola's work and knowing that the drive behind it was grounded in a strong faith, brought home the idea of what faith is. It is a fascinating experience meeting people of such devoted faith.”

Ben encourages students to submit entries for the Faith in Film awards 2018: “Just do it! I put my application in and thought nothing of it. I mean you see what is on offer and you think to yourself that it can't possibly be you. I was (and still am) a science nerd from the capital of the middle of nowhere and yet I managed to end up with a Hollywood internship! I think the best thing about the SFA experience is the confidence it has given me. I figure if someone is going to make movies it might as well be me, which is a mind-set that I didn't think I would ever have. I can't stress enough how important it is to be one of the names in the hat when it comes to the draw.”

Details of the 2018 award will be published shortly.