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Crittenden man shoots local films

By Paige Taylor

“Lights, camera, action!” isn’t something that is usually heard in Grant County Park, until now.  Ben Wilt, of Crittenden, is lending his talents to the film industry as he shoots two short films in Grant County.

Wilt, 29, grew up in Shinnston, West Virginia before moving to Crittenden 10 years ago. The conservative coal mining town didn’t leave much room for expression as Wilt’s fondness for films grew.

“I moved here to do production work, which is something I always wanted to do but couldn’t do in West Virginia because there wasn’t a lot of ability there,” Wilt said. “I do a lot of freelance production; I do spots, ads and productions for the Creation Museum. A lot of my work has been through them.”

Wilt has done more than commercial production as he made a short, narrative film called, “Broken” which is a 10 minute short.

“I entered “Broken” into several film festivals this year and I shot it here in Crittenden. I entered it in Sundance Film Festival and the Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville and Cleveland Film Festivals,” Wilt said. “I wrote it based on my personal experiences. My Dad went through a pretty rough thing as a child and lost a brother who was shot in his home and that was the inspiration for “Broken.””

“In Loving Memory” is his newest short film, and like “Broken,” the film is shot in Crittenden.

“I’ve been using the old school building and church in the Grant County Park to shoot a lot of my scenes. It’s about three grown brothers who lose their mom and she dies. Their Dad used to be a pastor and left them. It’s a tale that I’ve seen before and something I’ve observed in my life. It’s about the three brothers coping with this, and being so very different, dealing with each other’s personalities. So, it’s about crisis and loss,” Wilt said.

Wilt says that coping and crisis will continue to play major roles in his films.

“My stories aren’t happy and a lot of people tell me that. Not so much in the making, but in the writing my films and stories are a way for me to cope with things. When I’m writing, it’s really an expression of me trying to work through my own personal demons. I’m not inherently a dark person, but I’m pretty analytical,” Wilt said. “This particular story, I wrote after my best friend died. It was a coping mechanism because I had a really hard time with it. This film isn’t his story, but it was my way of dealing with that situation.”

Wilt is currently in pre-production with his film, “In Loving Memory” and he hopes that the success from his two short films will carry him on to bigger opportunities.

“I’m looking forward to this year’s Cincinnati Film Festival, even if my entry doesn’t get an award it will be my first time attending,” Wilt said. “I’m hoping that these short films are a spring board to a feature length film that I’m writing right now. Hopefully I’ll find a producer that’s interested in my feature script so that I can find funding. And I’d really like to shoot in Kentucky; I don’t want to go anywhere else.”

Wilt’s film, “Broken” can’t be viewed by the public yet because exclusivity is vital for a film festival candidate. Wilt does have a personal website for his upcoming film, “In Loving Memory” at inlovingmemoryfilm.com.

Wilt is the recipient of a bronze and two silver Telly Awards, which honors the best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs. Telly Awards are given to self-nominated entries and awards are judged by past award winners. In some instances, Wilt is able to work with Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky film crews.

“There’s actually a substantial hub around here for film making and commercial production, especially in Cincinnati. It’s enjoyable to work with the local community here,” Wilt said.