The beauty and wonder of films and animation can take you on adventures that go well beyond a story; the composition and construction of the visuals behind what is on the big screen are obviously paramount in the delivery of a motion picture, and should evoke a ubiquitous sense of being very much a part of the unfolding feature. They are an escape from the redundancy of life. Film is a beloved, magical art that is ever evolving, always expanding with new innovations and technology, and continues to capture humanity’s heart after decades of uncanny and spellbinding amelioration.
I give credit to Ben Tillmann on being what I like to call an expert on the subject. Truth be told, I also give him credit for being one of the most multi talented and adventurous individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. A few of his credentials include lighting and composition for numerous animated films (a personal favorite of mine being the Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov produced animated film 9). And whether it’s racing competitively with the Canadian Dragons in Tanjong Beach, Sentosa, to indulging in his penchants for travel and photography, he is an inspiring person who truly is living life to the fullest, utilizing his incredible gifts, and following his dreams. After not seeing him for over a year, I was lucky to be able to spend a day with him during his current visit to Toronto this week, allowing for not only the occasion to catch up with the person who I have affectionately coined my ‘Pen Pal’ –a catch up inevitably includes a fair bit of fun, an equally fair amount of eating, and a venture to the cinema–, but also allowing for the opportunity to relay to all you Nina Spade Studio Fans his Spade On The Street segment.
Thank you Ben for your contribution to the Spade Blog. Continue to inspire those you encounter in life with your vivacious and artistic spirit.
Q: What is most rewarding about your craft?
BT: “– Entertaining and transporting people to other worlds — even if only for a few hours — and possibly even inspiring them in the process if I’m lucky —…And that I am constantly learning and becoming better at what I do on a daily basis.……And that I get to use both sides of my brain.Okay, there are lots of reasons why I do what I do for a living. Most of it has to do with the fact that I’m still a kid at heart and even though I’m not telling my own stories, or in complete creative control of the projects I work on, I do get to be part of a team that creates worlds. Worlds which have the potential to inspire the imagination of children, both young and old, on a daily basis, in all corners of the earth. It can be pretty staggering and humbling when I actually sit down and think about it.I also get to work with bleeding edge technology. So bleeding edge that when I’m not troubleshooting tools/proprietary software designed by our studio, I’m testing the possibilities of new tools from other companies months before they’ll hit the general population. It forces me to constantly be evolving as an artist and pushes me to be better today than I was yesterday and even better tomorrow. It also has me constantly switching between left and right brain thinking so I don’t have to abandon the technical and problem solving side of life which I get a kick out of to fully pursue my artistic dreams.Now would probably be a good time to mention that I’m a visual fx artist (lighting TD/compositor/surfacing artist) for ILM/LucasFilm working in their feature division.— Capturing the beauty in a split second of time before it’s gone forever —These days, when I’m not at work, I’m most passionate about my photography. Especially when I’m on vacation. I don’t buy souvenirs. They don’t actually represent the emotions I’m feeling or the emotions of the location I’m in. You can’t reduce a person or a sunset or an ancient buddhist temple down to a piece of plastic. It’s just not possible. Especially in Asia where every market seems to have the exact same souvenirs on display outside of stand after stand after stand. Even a photograph doesn’t capture the true beauty of the moment, but at least it can capture a small taste of what I was feeling or what my subject was going through at that exact point in time. And I’m getting better with each picture I take too. Maybe one day I’ll actually be able to snap a photo and think to myself, ‘yes, this is the entire moment, encapsulated in a single frame of time’.(*cough* shameless self advertising *cough*)— Escaping for a moment —Moving to Singapore forced me to quit my band and, in an instant, leave that entire world behind me. It was one of the hardest things I had to do when I moved out here Music is an intricate part of my life and has been for as long as I can remember. I have no idea how old I was when my parents signed me up for piano lessons, but I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t play. Although I no longer get the adrenaline kick I got from entertaining a room full of strangers — or an empty room with a single person, depending on the night — I still play bass and guitar several times a month, usually after a long day at work, or during a rare lull on weekends, to escape from whatever is currently holding me down in reality. Losing myself to rhythm and chords and sound and not having to think, but rather just do is almost more rewarding than any of my other artistic releases. Plus, I’ll occasionally be lucky enough to have a friend or two within earshot that I get to entertain as a small added bonus.— Seeing my thoughts expressed on the page —Which is evident by how much I’ve already written. I started writing when I moved to Singapore as a one way conversation with my family and friends back home. That way they could go through the experience with me even though they weren’t experiencing it themselves. It’s almost been 3 years now and I still write almost every night. I’d like to think I’ve gotten better, and that I actually have followers on tumblr leads me to believe I’m not half bad. Although I really don’t do it for anyone other than myself. It is totally 100% self serving and I’m okay with that. It’s actually gotten to the point where I’m legitimately coming up with ideas for screenplays and/or novels, but that would require putting the blog on hold…”