Tuesday, December 29, 2015

BUNNY AND NON-BUNNYNESS

Six years ago, Ben Blanchard, a young man I’ve known since he was ten, illustrated a book-length poem I’d written entitled The Beast Beelzebufo, the story of a devil frog that was the largest frog ever to live on earth. At the time of the book’s publication, Ben was visiting his mother here in New Iberia but living in Sedona, Arizona and practicing as a raw foodist. He had graduated from the Raw Food Preparation and Organic Gardening School sponsored by the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center and was working on art projects in his spare time, one of which was The Beast.

A few years later, Ben, now working in Austin, Texas, wrote and illustrated his own book-length poem, Willameena Moonbeam, a story about children wishing for the sun to stay out all day so they could play outdoors, and when their wish comes true are dismayed that the world has become unbalanced.

In Austin, Ben became affiliated with the School of Acting and began working in film, a field he had aspired to enter after graduating from high school. Yesterday evening, in a private showing, we were treated to Ben’s first short film, Bunny and Non-Bunnyness, a dark comedy that showcases his considerable artistic talents. Ben wrote and directed the film with Luftfield Studios in Austin, probing an existential ("egg-istential") crisis the Easter bunny undergoes when he realizes that no one believes in him anymore. He says “If no one believes in me anymore, what’s the point of making art?”

One of the many themes Ben presents concerns the Easter bunny’s egg painting, which symbolizes the controversy about whether pop art is really art. In the background of the setting, viewers see stacks of eggs waiting for the artistic bunny to recover from his angst and paint. There are deep levels in the short movie that reveal Ben’s knowledge of Buddhism and reincarnation and a concept pointed out by one of the Bunny’s fellow artists: before an artist can be reborn, he must die to the idea that he has to be recognized by others in order to succeed.  

Ben photo-shopped what he thought the film would look like before creating the video and spent a year working with producer Alexis Gabriel Ramirez of El Paso, Texas on production, then helped raise money to finance its completion.

A self-taught artist, Ben thinks that the best way for a person to learn an art form is to practice it and to surround himself with people who are dedicated to their art. He recognizes fellow artists like Meredith Johns, the woman who created the make up for the film and who has a formidable record in her field, having worked on movies such as True Grit. Ben's ambition is to enter Bunny and Non-Bunnyness in film festival competitions and to adapt the shorter film to a full-length narrative film.

“The way to succeed in Art is to marry and get the best experience from something that combines many forms of disciplines at one time,” Ben says. “Film combines music, costume, creative writing, architecture, and artistic set-making in one experience.” He might also say that a bit of philosophy, knowledge of world religions, and psychological perception enhance the mix.

A fifteen-minute performance brought forth “bravos” from this talented young man’s private audience, and we were home by 9:30, driving under a three-quarter moon (one of Ben’s favorite art subjects) from Broussard, Louisiana where Ben is enjoying a brief visit with his mother. We wish him the best in his “art making” and hope Bunny and Non-Bunnyness garners a 1st place in film competitions this coming year.




  
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