Ben Kadie Films


Daily Trojan: "Cinematic arts students tackle questions of gender"

8/15/2014: "Unlike in other stories of garage successes and Harvard dropouts, Kadie and Flynn didn’t need to leave USC to pursue their dream of producing their short film “Blackroot.” Rather, late night dorm room discussions and the atmosphere of the B.F.A. in Film and TV Production program have helped them create “Blackroot,” a short film set in 1967 that portrays a transgender Native American teen’s meeting with white hippie hopefuls in the woodlands of Washington." ... More>

Raising Money for Blackroot, a Drama Set in 1967

March 24, 2013: We have reached our minimum fundraising goal, but additional donations are needed to cover music and festival submission fees. Please see our IndieGoGo page!

The fifteen minute film will tell the story of an American Indian teen named RT who struggles with their gender identity, the death of their grandmother, and now, the sudden appearance of four white teenagers who enlist their help in the search for a hallucinogenic mushroom called Blackroot.

The production team is lead by film students from across the county. Jack Flynn and I (USC) write, direct, and produce. Sam Wolff (NYU) directs photography. Tyler Brown (U. of Washington) is the local producer. See the production's Facebook page for more news.

Daily Trojan: "USC students produce Bollywood-type film"

1/14/2014: "In a universe where India conquers the West Coast of the United States, Bollywood becomes the top film industry in the world. [...] Sarah Jones, the film’s producer, and Ben Kadie, the film’s director, share the details of how the film came to fruition. [...] Don’t miss out on the most exciting, and possibly the biggest, student project yet!" ... More>

Best Special Effects Award for Teen/Parent/Graffiti Film

10/9/2013: On Sunday in New York City's Times Square, the All-American High School Film Festival gave their "Best Special Effects" award to Ben Kadie's The Painted Girl.

Unlike some of Ben's previous work, this film has no monsters and no shipwrecks. Instead, it uses visual effects to tell the story of a 15-year-old graffiti artist (Emma Rae Johnson) and her mom (Molly Berg). The production shot in the 100-year-old underground bunkers of Fort Casey State Park, but unsurprisingly park rangers wouldn't allow the fort's walls to be painted. To realize his vision for the story, Ben first created original art using both conventional and digital materials. He then used visual effects -- including motion tracking, compositing, and 3D modeling -- to turn the bunkers into graffiti-covered subway tunnels.

In addition to the award,
The Painted Girl earned five festival nominations for Best Overall Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography. The festival's full list of award winners is here. Stills and a trailer from the film are here.

Return to Comic-Con

7/17/2013: For the second year in a row, one of Ben's film will screen at Comic-Con, the nation's largest pop culture convention. Ben's film Sparks in the Night, a 2009 film noir parody, will screen as part of the children's film program, curated by San Diego International Children's Film Festival. Last year, Comic-Con screened Secret Club. Other programs at this year's Comic-Con include panels with actors Hugh Jackman and Simon Pegg.

Ben is hard at work on Big Silver Nights, his next film, and won't be able to personally attend the convention. (The new film, also a comedy, recently started fund raising.)

Sparks in the Night screens Sunday at 3:30pm in room 9.

Ben to Receive Medal in DC Ceremony

June 25, 2013: Update: President Obama was away at a European summit, so U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan congratulated Ben at a ceremony at the beautiful Mellon Auditorium on the National Mall. The film is on exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum through the end of the month. (Family pictures)

May 6, 2013
: The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, established in 1964 by executive order of the President, has designated Ben a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. The award, based on artistic and academic achievements, is the highest scholastic honor available to graduating high school seniors. The 20 Scholars in the Arts will join 121 other scholars to receive medals at a ceremony in Washington, DC. Also, on Sunday, June 16, the Smithsonian American Art Museum will screen the films of the two Cinematic Arts winners: Ben's The Painted Girl and his friend Cameron Covell's The Most Beautiful Thing. The screening is free.

Seven Screenings in Six Days for The Painted Girl

April 22, 2013
: The Painted Girl's biggest week of screenings starts on Friday. On that day, the film screens at the Toronto Student Film Fest, its second week in row in Canada.

On Saturday, the film plays the
San Francisco International Film Festival. Last year SFIFF screened Secret Club and two years before that Sparks in the Night. Also, on Saturday, The Painted Girl will screens the Arizona International Film Festival in Tucson. Ben's grandparents will attend and have, they say, recruited many friends. Also, on Saturday, the film will play West Chester Film Festival (Pennsylvania) which last year showed Mack.

On Sunday, the film will screen at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Cast member Molly Berg, who now lives in Irvine, will attend. Last year, Secret Club played the festival. Two years before that Sparks in the Night won the festival's top youth award. In 2009, the festival showed A Friendly Game.

Also on Sunday, The Painted Girl plays National Film Festival for Talented Youth. This is 17-year-old Ben Kadie's record seventh year and eighth film in NFFTY. This screening will be the film's local première, so expect most of the cast and crew will be in attendance.

Finally, on Wednesday May 1st, the film screens at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival on a program of short films about woman that "tells the beautiful, intricate, and even hilarious stories of women as they embark into the world of love, loss, and everything in between." This will be the film's first LGBT festival screening.

Big Silver Nights World Première at NFFTY in April

[5/6/2014 Follow up: Thanks for a great première! The film won the "Powerful Grit" Audience Award. Here are family pictures.]

Big Silver Nights
will premiere at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY).
  • Time: Sunday, April 27 · 5 PM
  • Location: SIFF Uptown 2 · 511 Queen Anne Ave North, Seattle
  • Tickets: $10 [Buy]

The story follows a pair of unlikely friends on one reckless night. Walter is a 60-year-old part time drug dealer and P.B. is a literal-minded, truth-obsessed 16-year-old kid.

Also at 1 PM on Sunday, Ben's experimental two-minute Soap Bar Butterflies will get its festival première.

This is 18-year-old Ben's eight year and 9th and 10th films in NFFTY. NFFTY recently selected last year's The Painted Girl for a "Best of NFFTY" free-public screening at the Seattle Public Library.

Co-Winner of Semester-Long Storytelling Game Run by the USC School of Cinematic Arts

12/20/2013: Ben Kadie was one of six overall winners for the 2013 season of the Reality storytelling game. The winners will have dinner in the home of a Hollywood director. By design, Ben and Jack Flynn, his roommate, tied. They each completed 85 projects and earned 26,515 points, putting them in third place behind David Kuhio Ahia II and
Minnie Schedeen. With his collaborators, Ben also shared the Most Outstanding Project of the Season award (the top project award), three additional project awards, and earned nine award nominations.

Wired Magazine reported on the game in 2011: “Freshmen at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts spent the past semester playing an immersive card game, Reality. Participants collected cards hidden across campus that were used as prompts for collaborative storytelling projects.” For the 2013 season, a
bout 90 students participated with at least one project. The game encourages collaboration among the students by giving everyone who contributes to a project the full points of that project.

Project award details:

Most Outstanding Project of the Season (tied, top award): “For a Penny”, with Amanda Kang, Jack Flynn, Kathryn Riccitiello and Kyle Hrabe. A short documentary in which the group tries to buy things for a penny from people on campus … 400 times.

Inspiration Award:For a Penny

Innovation Award: Storytelling Horse Race”, with Amanda Kang, Cameron Covell, Jack Flynn and Kyle Hrabe. An interactive web project in which four storytellers compete to hold the viewer's attention.

Universe Award: School of Bollywood Arts, a big project with 18 collaborators about an alternate universe where Bollywood is the big commercial film industry and Hollywood is number two. The collaborators planned, raised funds, and shot a shot film (with Ben directing). The film is now in post-production.

Additional Award Nominations -- Most Outstanding Project of the Season Storytelling Horse Race and School of Bollywood Arts. Perspective Award: Twerking Madness and Queer Speak. Illegitimate Award (abusing the game in the most innovate way): Tim Taylor News Update. Series Award: PhoneGlass Infomercial, Tim Taylor News Update, and Big Silver Nights. Play Award: For a Penny.

The Reality website has details of the awards and information about the game including a link to the Wired article. Also, see the Daily Trojan article about School of Bollywood Arts project.

Youth Grand Prize at SIFF

: The Seattle International Film Festival has given The Painted Girl (6 minute version) its Wavemaker Award, the grand prize for filmmakers 18 and under. This was Ben's fifth film in SIFF. The previous four films entered via the Seattle Times/SIFF Three-Minute Masterpiece Contest.
(Family pictures)

Ben Kadie Films Poster

May 6, 2013: Free Download Details

The Seattle Times: "A Mini-Movie Master: A Former Winner of the 3-Minute Masterpiece Contest Goes on to Bigger Things"

By Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times movie critic

March 10, 2013
: "Ben Kadie knew that he wanted to a filmmaker in the third grade. With a friend he started" ... More > (Image)

Ben Wins National Portfolio Award from Scholastic

March 16, 2013: The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers yesterday awarded a Scholastic National Silver Medal to a portfolio of eight of Ben's films. The portfolio included six previously-recognized films and two new ones: The Painted Girl and Soapbar Butterflies (an experimental film using puppets to dramatize an original slam poem). This marks Ben's fifth year to receive national honors from the Alliance. Three previous films earned National Silver Medals and two earned National Gold Medals.

This year, student artists submitted 230,000 works to Scholastic of which 1,900 received national awards. 171 seniors won Portfolio awards: 156 Silver Medals and 15 Gold Medals. The Alliance has given awards since 1923 to teens such as Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, and Robert Redford. The NY Observer wrote "Invasion of the Teenage Geniuses" about the June 2010 national award ceremony in NYC.

Screenings & Awards (updated 3/11/2014)




Ben loves filmmaking and his dozen films have appeared in over one hundred festivals around the world (even twice at Comic-Con!). The films have won more than 80 awards, including two dozen top youth awards at festivals such as the Newport Beach Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Nashville Film Festival.

At the University of Southern California, he's a TV and Film Production major and a Presidential Scholar. In his first year at USC, he worked on many projects, both those of classmates and his own, both class-related and independent. (Those efforts led to co-winning the School of Cinematic Arts' semester-long story-telling game, an internal film festival audience award, and interview with the Daily Trojan.)

In his first summer in Los Angeles, he interned for di Bonaventura Pictures on the Paramount Studios lot. He also worked with friends on the post production of two independent short films and planned new projects.