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Sparks In The Night

About Set in a black, white and red 1940’s, “Sparks in the Night” humorously follows detective Leon Sparks as he closes in on notorious lawbreaker, the Jerry Walker and the Speeder Brothers. Working with a cast of fellow eighth-graders, the 13-year-old director encapsulates the mood, moral ambiguity, menace, and fun of the grimy city.

   The 180-second movie was filmed over two days that produced over 250 clips and takes. Editing intensely over his one-week spring break, writer/director Ben Kadie used 3D computer models, 2D animation, archival footage, and digital matte paintings. The result was a stunning vision of a city that "would keep its filth hidden like a folding chair, tied to a giraffe, dipped in gasoline, and then lit on fire would keep on burning."

Also, a 30-second trailer for the three minute movie.

Movie Stills

Click photos to get high-resolution version.


Dylan Forbes as Jerry Walker


Ben Kadie as Leon Sparks


Ben Kadie as Leon Sparks outside the Anarchist Society


Duncan Cock Foster (white hat) as Duke Speeder


Giffin Cock Foster as Roscoe Speeder.


Ben Kadie as Leon Sparks in "Sparks in the Night"

click a picture for full size version
and there are 
More Production Photos

Building a virtual set with Cinema 4D.

Decorating the virtual set with constructed props and props from the Sketch up's 3D Warehouse.

Dylan Forbes


Duncan Cock Foster


Griffin Cock Foster

Directing the action.

Putting the rope to good use.

More Production Photos

Reviews and Screenings

kfff November, 2011: SPARKS IN THE NIGHT is in the new KIDS FIRST! Online Film Festival. (Previously, it won their top middle-school award.)
kfff "Sparks in the Night" wins KIDS FIRST!  "Best Award"

May 3, 2011: Every year KIDS FIRST!, the world's largest children's film festival, gives a "Best Award" to the top three films in each of its categories. This year "Sparks in the Night" earned the award with a third place in the "middle-school student production" category. Congratulations to first place winner Erin Buckley and second place winner Camille Manybeads Tso.

Studio films also win "Best Awards". Congratulations to "How to Train Your Dragon" from Paramount, the first place winner in the "Feature Film, Ages 5-12" category.

This is Ben's first "Best Award". Last year, Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave earned a KIDS FIRST! nomination.

The Pendragwn Youth Film Festival seeks to contribute to society through the power of story-telling by helping talented youth grow as filmmakers and artists. "Sparks in the Night" was screened on May 15th, 2011 and was named a Pendragwn finalist. Congrats to Grand Prize winners Zack Young & David Chen, Creative Lens winners Mike Holland & Nic Weinfeld, and Audience Choice winners Sophia Pink and Luz Bauer.
The Holland Project is an all-ages arts and music initiative by young people, for young people, in Reno, NV. "Sparks in the Night" will screen as part of their Teen Arts  Night on April 1, 2011.
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Sparks in the Night on Art Museum Tour

March 19, 2011:Yesterday, Ben attended a VIP reception at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) for the ART.WRITE.NOW. exhibit. The free exhibit runs through April 24th and includes 100 wonderful youth-created works, including "Sparks in the Night". The works were selected from last year's 600 Scholastic National Gold Medal winners (which, in turn, were selected from the 165,000 works submitted). The traveling exhibit previously ran in Fort Wayne & Dallas. It moves next to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and finally New York City. [photos]

In a case of life imitating art, Ben's latest film, Mack, includes an art-gallery-reception scene. In contrast with the film, the real reception had no ghosts!

A Bellevue Reporter article about the exhibit starts "Hollywood's next Coen brothers, or at least brother, may come from Bellevue." [full article]

Feb 26, 2011: Over his winter break, Ben talked to the students of the Jefferson Community School (Port Townsend) about making movies. The presentation included private screenings of Perilous Skies, Sparks in the Night, and Mack. [photos]
Feb 26, 2011: The Youth Film Happy Hour is a periodic event sponsored by Northwest Film Forum (NWFF), NFFTY, KCTS 9, SIFF, & MOHAI. Today, they showed several short films and trailers including the trailers for "Molly and the Masked Storm" and "Mack" and the film "Sparks in the Night". Ben then appeared with Sundance Filmmaker Megan Griffiths and KCTS 9 producer Dan Dumas on a panel about getting started in film . [pictures]
The Warren Report October 17, 2010: Warren Etheredge, cultural conversationalist, tweets "Ben Kadie is only 13 years old and already a better filmmaker than Uwe Boll. Check out SPARKS IN THE NIGHT" [note: Ben is now 15]. Two years ago, Mr. Etheredge wrote the first published film review of a Slugco film.
NFFTY DVD -- October 18, 2010: NFFTY's limited edition DVD includes Sparks in the Night as one of its nine "fantastic short films".
The News Tribune / Tacoma, WA The News Tribune (Tacoma): "The good, the bad and the mediocre at TFF’s Family Shorts"

“Sparks in the Night”: Shot by 13-year-old Ben Kadie from Bellevue and starring his teenage buddies, this clever noir detective spoof rakes in every cliché in the book for a fine three-minute laugh."

Weekly Volcano Tacoma Weekly Volcano: "YOUR DAILY GUIDE TO THE 2010 TACOMA FILM FESTIVAL"

 ... Family Shorts commence at noon at the theater, with a lineup including Sparks in the Night, the truly fantastic winner of last year's Seattle Times Three-Minute Masterpiece Contest. Ben Kadie was only 13 (13!) when he crafted the intricate effects for this comedic caper. ..."

October 1, 2010: Ben & family spend last weekend in Port Townsend. The youngest filmmaker at the wonderful festival, Ben greatly enjoyed talking with the other filmmakers. The film screened twice as part of the "Reviewer's Choice" program.

Port Townsend Film Festival Photos

Tacoma Film Festival (WA), October 7-14, 2010, "a week long community celebration of independent film"

"Most Promising Young Student Film Maker Award"

October 1, 2010: The Action/Cut Short Film Competition named Ben one of three winners in their 18-and-under division.
Thrill Spy Logo ThrillSpy International Thriller & Spy Film Festival, Washington D.C., October 2. The film is in the festival's general division. About the festival: "[Movies and films should be about having fun and escapism. ... The festival events include screenings, museum and law enforcement tours, VIP parties, embassy receptions and concludes with a ThrillSpy Awards Gala for filmmakers and invited special guests."
14th Annual North American All Youth Film and Education Day, October 1, 2010, Sacramento, CA. Motto: YOUTH ARE THE SOLUTION, NOT THE PROBLEM
Movies at the Mural Movies on the Mural at Seattle Center, Aug 22, 2010 -- Free films under the Space Needle. "Sparks in the Night" precedes "The Twilight Saga: New Moon".
Route 66 International Film Festival (Springfield, IL), Sept 18, 2010 -- Ben's grandmother plans on attending.
The Philadelphia Film and Music Festival (Philly F/M), September 23-26, 2010 -- The new festival strives to be an annual event that effectively merges independent film and music in new and exciting ways.
Zeum Museum, July 18, 2010 -- Showing about 500 kids some of winners and favorites from the San Francisco International Film Festival.
Short Cinema for Young Filmmakers, June 15, 2010 (California State University, Monterey Bay)

First ever screening of selected Scholastic award winners
Tribeca Cinemas Film Screening, NYC
In partnership with the Tribeca Film Festival
June 10, 2010

National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Teen Exhibition
World Financial Center’s Courtyard Gallery, NYC
June 9 – 25, 2010


May 1, 2010: The National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) selected "Sparks in the Night" for screening in the Centerpiece Shorts program at Seattle's SIFF Cinema. The film will also screened for free in the Seattle Center House as part of "Best of NFFTY: 2007-2010".

This is Ben's fourth year and fifth film in NFFTY. Last year, Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave, made when Ben was 12, won NFFTY's HBO-sponsored trip to-Hollywood.

Here are photos from NFFTY 2010 with links to photos from previous years.

Bellevue Reporter: "Interlake High School filmmaker already an award-winner"

Apr 16 2010, 5:09 PM
Ben Kadie has tracked down an elusive criminal on the streets of a grimy city, orchestrated an air attack behind enemy lines, and has visited a pharaohs grave – all before his 15 birthday. He travels through time and... More ›

Site logo April 6, 2010: The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers announced today that two of Ben films are national medal winners. "Sparks in the Night" won a National Scholastic Gold Medal. Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave won a National Scholastic Silver Medal. One year ago, Ben was the youngest gold medal filmmaker in the nation with his film A Friendly Game.

Scholastic has given arts awards since 1923 to teens such as Andy Warhol, Robert Redford, and John Lithgow. Over 165,000 works were submitted this year with fewer than 600 receiving a national gold medal. There is an ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City in June for which the city is lighting to top of the Empire State Building gold. (The ceremony, however, conflicts with the end of school at Interlake so Ben won't be able to go.)

"Invasion of the Teenage Geniuses", a NY Observer article about this year's ceremony in NYC.

April 25, 2010:  Sparks in the Night wins the top  prize at the Newport Beach Film Festival Youth Showcase. Volcom sponsored the Newport Youth Showcase to "amplify the voices of the younger cutting edge film makers". The showcase included 14 films by filmmakers 18 and younger. In his blog, juror Elliot V. Kotek called "Sparks in the Night" "a fantastic film noir rife with humor and class". Last year, Newport Beach selected A Friendly Game.

March 27, 2010: The Student Division of the Louisiana Film Festival has given their top prize to "Sparks in the Night".  This marks the the first time the Jefferson Hendricks Achievement in Film Award has been won by a middle school film. Last year, the festival named Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave best middle school film.
Site logo March 2010: The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers has awarded Scholastic Gold Keys to "Sparks in the Night" and Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave and . The awards are the Alliance's highest regional honor.
May 2010: Secret Club was a Finalist at the Future of Cinema Film Festival (Interlochen, MI) and earned a $500 scholarship for the summer program there.
May 2010: The Santa Cruz Film Festival seeks "independent-minded filmmakers and artists who produce culturally relevant and ideologically challenging work", for example, Sparks in the Night.
Image The 53rd Annual San Francisco International Film Festival will be April 22–May 6, 2010 and will include Sparks in the Night. The festival is the longest-running film festival in the Americas.
Out of more than 2200 entries, Sparks in the Night was among the films selected for screening at the Nashville Film Festival. The festival is April 15-22.
April 2010: The Faux Film Festival celebrates mocumentaries, parodies, and satire. This Portland, Oregon festival will include Sparks in Night.
February 7, 2010: Couch Fest included Sparks in the Night as part of their "Best Of" screening. Ben and family attended at the Northwest Film Forum and enjoyed watching many great short films.
November 14, 2009: Sparks in the Night will screen at the Cucalorus Film Festival on . In a great interview about the festival's youth program, Meg Lansaw says:

Sparks in the Night by Ben Kadie is a strong example of a kid who appears to love filmmaking. His stylized approach to this piece was quite advanced for someone his age—seems like he’s the kind of filmmaker whose mind is always making up scenes, even in the grocery store. And he’s only 13!

Last year, A Friendly Game appeared at the festival.

November 7th. 2009: Couch Fest says "watching short films in strangers' houses = awkwardly awesome." Sparks in the Night will screen at the festival in Seattle.

October 14 & 15, 2009: Reel Youth will present "Sparks in the Night" at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Of 300+ youth films submitted, Reel Youth selected 16 for screening at VIFF.

The films went on to a 30+ stop tour of Canada and world, including Nepal and Ireland.

kfff October 6, 2009: KIDS FIRST! selects "Sparks in the Night" for their film festival of film festivals. This makes it eligible for more 120 venues nationwide that show films selected by KIDS FIRST!

October 9, Reel Teens Festival, Village of Hunter, New York -- "Sparks in the Night" was one of 70 selections from 493 entries. Ben's Grandmother Terry is hoping to attend.


September 30, YoungCuts Film Festival, Montreal, Canada -- "Sparks in the Night" was selected one of the top 100 films out of more than 1000 submissions. It also earned one of six nominations for Best Teen Film. This was Ben's first international screening.

Sept 27, 2009: “Sparks in the Night” will Teen Screen at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. The festival, one of TIME magazine's “Film Festivals for the Rest of us", is a celebration of new independent cinema in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

September 27, 33rd Annual Young People's Film & Video Festival, Portland, Oregon -- "Sparks in the Night" & "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave" were two of the 16 finalist out of 100+ submissions. Last year Ben attended the screening of "A Friendly Game" and had a great time.


Chicag REEL Shorts Fest

September 10-13, Chicago International REEL Shorts Festival! -- "Sparks in the Night" was awarded "Best Youth Entry". Of 900+ submissions, 75+ films were screened and 13 won "Best" awards. For the second year in a row, Ben's Grandmother Arlene took the train to Chicago to see the screening.

June 23, 2009: Cheri Gaulke, chair of Harvard-Westlake's Visual Arts Department, invited Ben to show Slugco films during his visit to Los Angeles. Ben showed “Sparks in the Night” and “Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave” and then answered questions from her summer class of teen filmmakers.
May 31, 2009: Maxon, the maker of Cinema 4D, has put "Sparks in the Night" in their showcase.
May 26, 2009: Today's Seattle Times included a small front-page photo, an inside article, and on-line interview.

Bellevue student, 14, wins 3-minute film contest

Ben Kadie is the grand-prize winner of The Seattle Times/Seattle International Film Festival's Three-Minute Masterpiece contest.
Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

Fourteen-year-old Bellevue student Ben Kadie — a Three-Minute Masterpiece contest finalist for the third year in a row — won top honors yesterday in The Seattle Times/Seattle International Film Festival's annual digital-filmmaking contest.

Kadie's "Sparks in the Night" is a spoof of film-noir menace that pits an earnest private eye (Kadie) against Rain City criminal types (a litterbug, a jaywalker, etc., as played by Kadie's eighth-grade friends).

The film's shadowy textures and daffy deadpan dialogue ("The truth hit me like something hard and massive hitting a smaller, softer thing") add up to a funny and beguiling package. In an e-mail exchange earlier this month, Kadie talked about his filmmaking process. (On-line interview.)

  Three Minute Masterpiece winner "Sparks in the Night," by Ben Kadie.
Three Minute Masterpiece winner "Sparks in the Night," by Ben Kadie.
3 Minute Masterpieces 2009 May 25, 2009: Today's big-screen premičre was amazing. Huge laughs in all the right places. At the end, “Sparks in the Night” was awarded the contest’s Grand Prize, not just the 18-and-under youth prize. (This is Ben’s first award competing with grown up filmmakers.) As the overall winner, the film will screen again at SIFF next weekend as part of a program of shorts.

May 21, 2009: Update: This year's nine Masterpieces are live at the Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/flatpages/entertainment/3mm.html. Here is the article's item for this film:

"Sparks in the Night"

The new film by 14-year-old Bellevue student Ben Kadie — a contest finalist for the third year in a row — is a droll film-noir spoof filled with sinister shadows and daffy deadpan dialogue. Kadie's filmmaking is a family affair, with Ben writing, directing and editing; his dad assisting on the set and with computer operation; and his mom helping with costumes, carpentry, catering and transportation. "They both take direction well," Kadie says.

May 10, 2009: "Sparks in the Night" will premičre at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). As one of nine Seattle Times "Three-Minute Masterpieces", it will be shown at a free public screening at 11 a.m. Monday, May 25 (Memorial Day), at the SIFF Cinema at Seattle Center. Tickets aren't necessary, but do show up a bit early. (Details at SIFF.)