Movie producer/actor/musician Ben Stranahan readily admits that the movie industry isn’t the easiest of places to break into. “It’s every bit as tough as you’ve heard and probably more,” he says. “You will definitely face a lot of closed doors when you arrive, and persisting despite them takes a lot of faith in yourself and in what you’ve got to offer the film industry. If you keep going, however, and work to improve yourself every day, you will eventually find that one door that opens for you. You then walk through it and keep going until the next one opens, or you end up creating the next one that opens. That’s what I did – I kept going even on the days when the doors were barricaded in steel. One reason I’m where I am today is because I didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I simply had to make movies for the sheer love of it, and no closed door was going to stop me.”

That unbreakable determination to reach Hollywood’s inner circle started early in Ben’s life. “As a kid, I saw every movie I could,” Ben says. “I loved them all – action, adventure, sci fi. It didn’t matter. It all seemed so exciting, be it the actors or the cinematography. As a kid, I was so determined to be a part of it that I jumped at the chance to be in my middle school’s play. It was still a long way from Hollywood, obviously, but when I stepped onstage the first time, I knew I had found where I was meant to be.”

His instinct to entertain the audience followed Ben to high school, where he began making some short films. “Directing and producing are totally different from acting, and when I stepped behind the camera, I saw an entirely new world for me to explore,” Ben remembers. “I had a lot to learn, of course, and I made plenty of mistakes. I learned from them, however, and in the process had so much fun. I didn’t leave music behind, though. I played the piano and drums with a band, and being on stage with my bandmates was a real rush.”

Ben loved music so much that he set his sights on enrolling in Boston’s Berklee College of Music Summer Program, which he did two times in a row. “Performing is in my blood, and I wanted to learn more about the piano and drums from some of the most talented teachers in the country,” Ben explains. “When I got out of high school, I had an incredible time at Berklee. I really grew into myself as a musician and became stronger.”

In Los Angeles at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, he found artistic paradise. “For three years, I was surrounded by industry leaders who knew what it took to make it in movies and theater, and I was pushed to develop my abilities in a way that I don’t know would have been possible without that experience. I’ll always remember those people with a lot of respect.”

After graduating, Ben began building his career as an actor, producer, and musician. Success came in 2016 when he produced the movie Mean Dreams, which starred Bill Paxton, Sophie Nélisse, Josh Wiggins, and Colm Feore. Ben says that one of his proudest moments was watching it premiere in 2016 at the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes and as a Special Presentation at TIFF. “Then it went on to be sold in over fifty countries and to be released theatrically in over ten countries. That was beyond amazing and an incredible feeling.”

One of his favorite movies to produce and act in was Population Zero. “That was a blast,” says Ben. “It was a psychological thriller and really took the genre in a different direction. Critics around the world loved it. I also enjoyed producing Calibre, another thriller, which was released on Netflix in 2018. That ended up being nominated for four BAFTAs, and it won for one: Best Actor for Jack Lowden. The night we won was incredible for all involved.”

Ben has also found success as a TV producer with The Midnight Anthology, starring Clancy Brown. Its pilot premiered at the New York Television Festival in 2015 and went on to win the Artistic Achievement and Best Director awards at the festival. Ben and The Midnight Anthology team are developing the remaining episodes of the series.

Today, Ben is a partner/producer at Tip-Top Productions, and he is living his lifelong dream of producing films with Hollywood’s top actors, including Christina Ricci. “We’re helping wrap up the post-production of Monstrous,” Ben says. “It’s amazing that I can even say that. For anyone who dreams of finding success in Hollywood, never stop believing that you can. Remember to believe in yourself every day, and you will have endless possibilities.”

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