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Art & Life with Bennett Cerf

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bennett Cerf.

Bennett, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I came into film as a person who was originally very technical. In high school, before I had decided to go into filmmaking as a possible career, I was a pilot (residual hopes as an aspiring astronaut as a kid), a programmer and I made movies on the side. However, the summer before college, my brother came home from film school and showed me a movie called, Baraka, by Ron Fricke, that sideswiped me and changed my whole life trajectory. I went to film school in New Mexico, chasing something that I couldn’t quite put into words. Then, I learned what a cinematographer does. Once I realized what that role was on set, I knew that’s what I’d spend all my energy trying to be. Coincidentally, I went to film school with a guy who actually was connected to Ron and the rest of the team that created that film and my eyes were now completely open. I knew I wanted to be a cinematographer, but I didn’t quite know how to make money doing it, so I jumped onto a movie as a film loader in Camp Pendleton and that started my career as a Camera Assistant. I think this was a beneficial move for me in the end. I got to work on movies, TV shows, Commercials, Music Videos watching how people dealt with all the dynamics of being a DP on set. I let that part of my life go for a long time, with a hiccup or two along the way. I didn’t let the dream die in me though. I finally decided after years of being a camera assistant to go back to school to get my Master’s in Cinematography from The American Film Institute. It was the best choice I could have made. I finally had a leg up that I had needed since I left school in New Mexico. I felt connected and supported by a bigger community of filmmakers who just wanted to make films.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I’m a Cinematographer, but I’m also slowly beginning to direct small projects. I function from the core belief that movement is magic in film. What I make is so varied that the only real foundational message from it all is that I want to empathize with the person in front of my lens and when I truly feel their struggle or their joy while I’m filming it, I feel that I’ve done my job.

Any advice for aspiring or new artists?
Don’t be precious. If you want to create, you can think about it for the rest of your life and never do it, or you can do what you can now. All the artists that I like are relatively prolific. They have done projects that are genius to projects that are, so-so. The so-so ones are the ones the reinforce that you have more work to do. Don’t waste your time judging yourself, that’s for us, the audience to do. You don’t have time for that if you’re going to keep expressing yourself.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
My artwork is on my website and out in the commercial, narrative and music video world. I love collaborating and that’s where I feel supported.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.bennettcerf.com
  • Phone: 310-503-5951
  • Email: b_cerf@hotmail.com
  • Instagram: @bennettcerfdp

Image Credit:
Personal Photo – Chiaki Yanagimoto

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