Ben On Ben: The Interview
My friends Ben Ketai and Ryan Lewis created Chosen — a six-part series for Crackle, Sony’s online platform — that you can (and should) watch online now. I interviewed Ben about his latest cinematic venture.
Ben: Let’s conduct this interview via email. Like those people who send chess moves through the mail, just less postal. First question — do you feel like a big Hollywood hotshot who’s better than us and how does that make you feel?
Ben: I wouldn’t say “better.” But definitely way cooler and more important. Is this thing on?
Ben: Your computer? Presumably. So, what inspired you to make a Web series based on the Chaim Potok novel of the same name?
Ben: The series was actually hatched over late-night doughnuts, a weekly occurrence for Ryan and me. Ryan pitched me the opening minutes, which I loved, and then in a violent storm of crullers and apple fritters, we spit-balled until we had the bones of what was to become the series. The name “Chosen” actually didn’t come until much later. It was coined by
Crackle’s marketing team. And though I’m not sure how much they were influenced by Chaim Potok, I can only assume it was heavily, as most of them are, Jewish.
Ben: In that case, please describe the premise of the series. Without using the letter R.
Ben: A box shows up outside the house. Inside is a gun and a photo of a man you have not met. On the photo is a date and time by which you have to kill him. Just as this all sinks in, someone hiding in the bushes begins shooting at you. Go.
Ben: That was decidedly R-less. I was half hoping Chosen had a pirate so it would have been more of a challenge. Also, I think pirates are too often typecast. Through Crackle, you can watch Chosen in so many ways — different devices, consecutive episodes, etc. What are the best and worst ways to experience Chosen?
Ben: Sadly, the pirate scene ended up on the cutting room floor. Maybe in Season 2. As far as viewing experience, what I really dig about Crackle’s service is that you can indeed choose your mode of viewing. Whether it’s through the TV, computer or phone, you have the ability to reach people everywhere at any time. But if I had to choose one, I’d say, of course, watching it on a big-ass TV with surround sound. This can be done by accessing Crackle through any Internet-ready television, wifi Blu-ray player, Xbox, PS3 or Roku. And I love that I can say this now, because five years ago when I directed my first Web series, your only options were computer and smaller. We live in a very exciting time now where TV and PC are becoming one in the same, and it’s really a leg up for ambitious content creators like me.
Ben: Speaking of which, I noticed a lot of Sony product placement. Contractually obligated or just appreciative of your corporate benefactor overlords?
Ben: Let’s just say … free props are better than not free props.
Ben: Remind me — what were the (ostensibly) fictitious search engines and video websites?
Ben: I know there was “Searchies!” which I love. The other one I can’t remember exactly… I think it was “MeClips,” which is also hilarious.
Ben: You created, wrote, directed and produced Chosen. Do you want to use this space to talk about your trust issues?
Ben: Yes. Also, side note… would you mind if I asked myself the questions for the rest of this and then finished the article for you?
Ben: Is my name Ben? I only have one more question, my only real question, really: If you were remaking the movies that we made in high school, who would you cast to play my roles, assuming, of course, I weren’t available to reprise them?
Ben: Well, this is a tough one considering you’re completely irreplaceable. But if I had to, I suppose I would go with Daniel Day-Lewis.
Ben: That is correct. Looks like we’re out of time.
Watch Chosen at crackle.com/c/Chosen or you might find a box at your door.