Q+A: Albert Beniada of Film Shop
So what is the Filmshop, you may ask? Filmshop is a nonprofit organization which brings together a community of independent filmmakers "committed to developing new work through collaboration and peer support". Located in the Media Center, Filmshop has been in DUMBO for 18 months now. We sat down with Albert Beniada, writer, director and Executive Director at Filmshop, to find out more...
What was the idea behind the set-up of Filmshop?
To create a space for filmmakers to come together to share what they’re working on and receive feedback from fellow working filmmakers. And to sustain the kind of community that you might find in a film school, for example, where you’re meeting regularly and getting ongoing support. It’s very much a community of peer mentorship.
Can you tell us a bit about what Filmshop does?
We’re a nonprofit arts organization that supports our close-knit community of over 100 filmmakers in New York. Members are diverse and include established and emerging narrative and documentary filmmakers. Filmshop supports them in the creation of new work—everything from short and feature-length films to series and interactive media.
Our core program is our workshop, where members meet weekly over the course of a 16-week season. It’s the central forum where we share our work. We currently have four chapters in New York, one of them here in DUMBO. And part of our mission is to help each member hone their unique vision and to foster the creation of truly independent media.
As an outgrowth of the workshops, we also organize events for our members and the independent film community.
So, what kinds of events does Filmshop host?
We organize a film conference coming up this October. We get input from our members about the skills they want to develop and curate a day of hands-on exercises and master classes led by the brightest minds we know, sometimes members themselves.
We also host public screenings of our members’ work, including an annual themed showcase and a more intimate industry showcase. Our most recent showcase was just last month. The theme was “Shhhhh,” so you can imagine we had a lot of fun with that one. We held the event at Rough Trade, and the theme really inspired the entire event. Our friends the Creators Collective brought together performers to do silent dancing in Rough Trade’s record store. Every 15 minutes they’d they’d stop the music and spontaneously dance. And in the main space we showcased the films our members made, which included a silent film block that was live scored by a psychedelic rock band (Elxclub).
Can you let us into some of your own projects?
Sure! I have two projects I’m actively working on. One is a short documentary about a gay couple I am now friends with in Miami who build homes using found materials. They approach their work and lives through a very different lens. So it’s a profile of them and their work, and an exploration how two people who are really quite different can work and live together. I’m hoping to finish it as a Christmas present! I’m also writing a web series about a support group for shy people called SHOUT.
What do you personally love about film?
It’s such a powerful medium, and it incorporates so many different layers: the visuals, the sound, the dialogue, the rhythms. There are so many ways you can express ideas, really move audiences and connect with people. That’s part of it for me.
What do you like about being in DUMBO?
I love the neighborhood. Because of the architecture, it feels like its own village. And I've met so many great people here. I'm based in the IFP Media Center, and it’s great to rub shoulders with people doing all manner of creative things in tech and storytelling. Being at the Media Center has been great for Filmshop. We’ve forged many great relationships and attracted a lot of talented new members.
Where are your favorite spots in DUMBO?
I like Usagi and Atrium, and I go to Foragers a lot too. I like Mouth; every six months I buy my whiskey there! Modern Anthology for the well-edited menswear and friendly staff. And Superfine— they hosted our industry showcase afterparty this spring. And nothing beats sitting by the water at night.