Featured Filmmaker: Ben Tolpin, Director of ‘Broken Up’

This is the first installment in a series of Q&As with this year’s participating filmmakers.

We caught up with Director/Producer/Writer/Actor Ben Tolpin, creator of the short film Broken Up, which screens at Celestial Cinema on Friday, June 14th. We corresponded with him via email and asked him a few simple questions to get to know him better. We look forward to having him here at the festival to introduce his film and to participate in a Filmmaker’s Panel on Saturday, June 15th.

Ben Tolpin, Creator of "Broken Up"

Ben Tolpin, Creator of “Broken Up”

Q: How did you get involved in film? Where and when did you start?
A: I was inspired to act in film while watching Harrison Ford films in 80’s. I felt like I could relate to his character points of views, like he was part of my family. I majored in acting at Marymount Manhattan College but even as I maintained an acting career in New York and Los Angeles, I was interested in most aspects of film making and began shooting my own projects as a writer and director.

Q: What inspired you to create Broken Up?
A: I wrote Broken Up as just a few scenes in the beginning of 2012 to express my view on how normally sane, self-aware people become irrational and obsessive when going through a break-up. It was inspired by an amusing on-going conversation with a friend I had dated. When Katie Walder read the script that summer and wanted to play “Katie”, I jumped at the chance to direct it. We shot most of the film near the end of summer 2012 and we finished post in May of 2013.

Q: What was the most challenging part of creating this film?
A: The most challenging part of the film was shooting twenty-six pages in three days and still maintain the standard I wanted for performances and shot quality.

Q: What type of experience do you hope the film will bring to viewers?
A: I hope people relate to the points of views of the characters and see the irony in having intense anxiety yet knowingly perpetuating circumstances that create more. It’s a human thing to mentally batter ourselves. But even though Katie and Ben’s conversation seems circular and obsessive, it does go somewhere.

Q: What do you think our Maui audiences will most appreciate about your film?
A: I hope Maui audiences will appreciate how they themselves fit into the experience of the characters being portrayed — where they land on the neurosis spectrum after a break-up.

Q: Do you have any prior connection to Maui?
A: I have no prior connection to Maui but I’ve always wanted to visit. And my sister recently moved to Oahu so it was inevitable that I come here soon.


The Featured Filmmaker series is coordinated and written by the Maui Film Festival’s Filmmaker Liaison and Social Media Director Sara TekulaClick here to see all of the Featured FIlmmaker posts and be sure follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get live updates from the festival.