Cecilia Brown, Reporter
Cliff and Tabatha Bennett, producers and founders of Cineglyph LLC, a company that specializes in filmmaking in the Pacific Northwest, have begun the filming process for their movie Paper Dragons in the Puyallup area.
They have lived in Puyallup since 2005, and together they agreed to film Paper Dragons in the area because of the abundance of small businesses.
Paper Dragons follows character Greyson Bell, a recently divorced father who has lost his job as he struggles with toxic masculinity; the traditional notion that men should hide their emotions.
Cliff and Tabatha Bennett hope to explore what makes a person become violent.
Los Angeles-based actor Sam Brittan will play the lead role. The film will also feature Seattle-based actors Kristie Carter and Cisco Hoberock.
Although Tabatha Bennett is relatively new to filmmaking, her family is no stranger to the movie scene.
“Back in the day during the silent film era, my great-great-grandfather and great-great-uncle were actually horse wranglers that would also play as sheriffs,” Tabatha said.
She hadn’t revisited film until husband Cliff Bennett first introduced the idea to her.
“(Cliff) was a photojournalist in the Air Force, so he dealt a lot with cameras and photography,” Tabatha Bennett said. “So that’s how we started video. He brought it back up and said ‘I think this is our path.’”
She has since become the executive producer of Paper Dragons, has worked in connection with several companies to create advertisements and has traveled the world to attend film festivals, such as Cannes Film Festival.
Tabatha Bennett knows first hand the struggles of becoming a well-known artist in a small town such as Puyallup.
“Take whatever tools you have at your disposal, and make something,” Tabatha Bennett said. “Don’t be afraid to fail, don’t be afraid to try, don’t be afraid to hear ‘no.’ You’re going to hear ‘no’ a lot in this industry. The best thing to do is go, ‘Okay, what can I do better?’”
She also suggests taking film editing and 3D design classes with professor Brian Martin at the Pierce College Fort Steilacoom campus.
“Brian Martin was a really great instructor,” Tabatha said. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, it’s community college. I don’t know if this person has enough knowledge and information,’ but Brian Martin was really great.”
For all students, she recommends using Adobe Creative Cloud, especially because students get discounts when purchasing the software.
When initially creating films, Tabatha Bennett says that there are several steps required to begin the process. She and Cliff Bennett prefer conceptualizing the films they begin writing out.
Her motto is, “If you can’t see it, if you can’t speak it, you definitely can’t sell it and you definitely can’t make it.”
The filming process can be difficult as well.
“Sometimes lighting packages are very expensive and very hard to move around,” Tabatha Bennett says. “We’ll try on a lot of things, believe it or not, we try to use daylight as much as possible.”
With most lighting equipment, it takes time to set up and operate. Tabatha Bennett notes that in the time taken to set up equipment, “you’re losing daylight, you’re losing time, and you’re losing money.”
For aspiring filmmakers, she suggests that Quasar lights are a great and cheaper alternative to professional lighting. But she also shared that her husband once had to use very cheap lighting they had found at Home Depot for a photoshoot.
“You have to adapt and overcome, you’re never going to have all the right equipment, you’re never going to have all the right everything you need, especially as a new filmmaker… the more you’re willing to try new things, the better,” Tabatha Bennett said.
The equipment they use is sometimes provided by the crew they hire, but they also purchase some themselves.
She said jokingly that obtaining equipment can sometimes be difficult. “You have to know a guy, who knew a guy, who knew a guy,” she said.
She says it’s also difficult to create a production company.
“There’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that people don’t know,” Tabatha said, using the required production insurance as an example. “If you don’t have production insurance, and let’s say you were doing a video for any company and you break something, or blow up a building or catch it on fire, or whatever, you’re liable.”
Networking is also a requirement for any aspiring artist.
“If you’re a shy individual, it’s going to be very difficult to do a production if you’re not willing to break out and try new things.” Tabatha said.
For beginning filmmakers, Tabatha Bennett suggested starting out small and knowing the community they are working in.
“Do student films,” she says. “Student films are always accepted in film festivals as well, and you don’t need production insurance.”
As for locations, she notes that production insurance in California can be very pricey.
And in somewhere like Oregon, not many businesses are cooperative in the filming process, however, in Washington a lot of people and businesses are willing to help. Tabitha says the crew is also an important factor.
She admits that sometimes she and Cliff Bennett disagree.
To get around this they ask others for their opinions, research, and talk their different ideas out.
Tabatha Bennett is also the person who runs the majority of the set. She usually begins the day with a short announcement and runs through their many protocols such as for eating, safety and uncomfortable situations.
“Sometimes we’re at odds, and that’s what makes it great,” she said.
She will not use ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ on set, but instead it’s implied. The filming process can be rushed, and this is something directors and producers must use to their advantage, she says.
Becoming a filmmaker, a director, or any type of artist can be very intense.
“It’s not easy,” Tabatha Bennett said. “A lot of people go, ‘Oh it’s easy, it’s fun.’—It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of detail, and a lot of people are relying on you to know what you’re doing.”
To students, Tabatha Bennett suggests they use their time and classes to the utmost advantage.
“Take as much help and questions and support that you can while you’re (in school),” Tabatha Bennett said, “because when you get out, it’s 20 times more difficult.”
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