Welcome to another piece in the Crispy feature series, where an interesting character is selected and a particular topic highlighted for discussion. It’s a chance to go in-depth and uncover some of the real shit, in an artificial, instantaneous society.
This piece focusses on Sydney’s Ben Norris, an up and coming filmer synonymous with Lewis Mills – who obliged to write the following introduction.
“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Benny is him in a hallway at monster skatepark getting a long and confused glare from Jai Bradley. I was a little confused as I watched on to then hear Jai quoting “fuck you are a weird looking human”. They hadn’t even spoken a word to each other prior but typical Ben just bursted out in an embarrassed laugh, too nice to fire back a sly comment. We all hated the bloke but Ben was just too nice, which pretty much sums him up. He is one of the most innocent and selfless buggers I have ever come across and if you talk him into doing something stupid enough he will pretty much do anything.
The best memory I have of Ben is sitting in a car with Hinsy and Boyd after a huge day filming and a long drive home ahead, how he slowly explained a mate of his tied him to a pole, and after many attempts to tell him he had to go to the bathroom, poor Benny had no choice but to shit his pants. The whole car couldn’t stop laughing and I thought fuck how good is this guy. There are so many countless funny stories about Benny but I gotta keep this short.
I’ve know Ben pretty much since the early days in primary school and from then I’ve seen him film Gopros, to shitty DSLR’s to his HPX170s. looking back I laugh to myself because almost every time I saw him setting up to film a trick I’d always say to myself “what the fuck are you doing?”. And now being blown away with just about everything he does. His creativity in not only filming but editing is amazing but it’s progressing at a dumb rate. He is by far the best filmer I have worked with and is getting better and better each time he releases a new edit, and it’s crazy he’s just a minute from my house. I’m excited and hyped to see where he goes and I’m praying to god he quits uni real quick and starts charging a reasonable price for his videos! Thanks for everything Ben you’re a legend.”
Hey man – where you at?
I’m currently at uni, just hanging out before my next class.
What are you studying and what do you plan to do with the degree once you have it?
I’m studying Media Arts and Production. I’d love to get a job doing something creative involving film. I’m kinda on the fence about it though, I don’t want my uni work to get in the way of filming BMX.
Describe yourself to someone who had never met you before?
Kinda quiet, generally positive and motivated. Eats lots of bananas, enjoys making videos and having fun.
To most you’re the dude who films Lewis Mills videos. Can you detail your background in film/edit and how you came to be where you’re at today?
I started filming around 2012 after I blew all my savings on a GoPro Hero 2. I wasn’t initially the ‘filmer’ though. I’d film us all fucking around at the trails but when it came to getting ‘actual clips’ we often argued about who’d film it because no-one wanted my shaky-ass, headchopping hands missing their clips.
It wasn’t until around 2014 when I found out that I had 3 herniated disks in my lower back that I really morphed into the ‘filmer’. The doctors told me that I couldn’t do any sports for a year, but Mum still let me film and I think the homies felt bad for me which allowed me to become the filmer/editor.
At that time we were watching “Bake and Destroy” on repeat and I was eventually bullied into swapping my Nikon out for a VX1000. Everyone gave me money for it though and Lewis bought the fisheye which was super sick.
I owe so much to Lewis in terms of getting me the opportunity to travel, film with, and meet different riders. Through Lewis I got to film the VolDemSyd video which introduced me to Boyd and Jacman and led us to stay at Alex Hiam’s house later that year. I was pretty nervous before that trip, stressing that my filming wasn’t going to be good enough. But the VolDem videos and filming Lewis’s parts definitely led me to where I am today.
Can you describe your approach to filming and explain who has influenced your style of film/edit the most and why?
The biggest influence on the way I film probably came from Francis Castro. I loved the way he got so close and under the rider, for me that looks the most exciting. I tried to copy his camera set-up too with the one I’ve got today.
More recently though I’ve been heavily influenced by Tony Ennis and Mike Mastroni’s stuff. I definitely try to emulate their technique and creativity with song choices, second angles and fish/long styles. I’ve also been super into filming fisheye lines from in front, there’s something about the way it looks that gets me psyched.
In general though, I want my videos to be fun to watch in a way that can satisfy the rider’s and my own vision for a clip. I also try to be open to new ideas and make myself available whenever someone wants to film.
Nice one on Tony Ennis – he would be one of my major influences too. On that, you recently got to meet and hang with him, as well as Garrett and co. on a recent Redbull adventure. What was that like and did you learn anything from seeing him work in the flesh?
It was pretty wild seeing Tony film in person, he’s the man for sure. I only got to hang out with them a few times but they were all super kind, easy to kick it with and positive to be around. You could tell they were really passionate and motivated about what they do.
With Tony it seemed like he always had his eye out for cool b-roll and second angles stuff between practising his Aussie accent. If I took anything away from it, it’d be to keep experimenting with different techniques/concepts and go the extra mile to create new content that you’re hyped on.
In my view, song selection is crucial to making a good part. If done well, it can elevate a part from good to classic. I’ve really enjoyed the last couple songs you chose – especially the 2017 Lewis part. What’s your approach to finding music, and then deciding which one to use?
I’m stoked that you liked the song in Lewis’s part. That was his choice after we’d changed it probably 10 times haha. For me (and I think most filmers), finding songs can be a challenge because it does have such a big influence over an edit’s vibe and re-watch value.
It usually helps if you’re on the same wavelength as the rider and they have some ideas about what music they want. This is especially good with Lewis whose chosen all the songs for his videos I’ve made. I can remember him saying that you don’t find the song but “the song finds you”.
Other than that I try find music by going through YouTube’s auto-generated playlists from different song searches. I usually try stick to music that’s more ‘vibey’, nothing too heavy – I love the songs in Tony’s Fiend videos. If we’ve got multiple tracks I’ll go with the one that we’re most stoked on and try save the others for something different.
What else fills your life with joy and happiness?
I don’t have a bike at the moment so I’ve been skating a bit which has been fun. It’s always rad learning new tricks. I’m pretty trash though so I’ll normally ride someplace quiet where I can’t embarrass myself.
Other than Lewis, who do you normally ride with and are there any dudes we should be on the look out for from the Sydney scene?
If we’re riding street it’ll normally be me, Lewis and Jordan (Smyth). Sydney’s street scene is kinda small but we’ve been making a few trips to Melbourne and riding with Jacman a lot too.
In terms of people to look out for, Nick Carey is really good. We don’t get to ride together too often because he lives a while out of Sydney but I’m pretty sure he’s filming some stuff which will be sick to see. Jordan kills it too, he’s been learning a bunch of new tricks and we’ve been filming when we can, so you can expect to see some clips of him soonish.
Any projects you’re currently working on, or that we should expect to see in the near future?
I’m helping to film a Fiend part for Lewis and we’ve also started on a Welcome to Eclat video. I’m filming a video with Jacman too which I’m stoked on. I’m also making another mixtape type video but it might turn into a Jordan edit mixed with hijinx from the rest of the crew.
Thanks to all involved and for anyone who takes the time to read this. Right on.