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Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #17: Benni Diez Hopes His Audience Will Go Home and Make Love After Seeing ‘Stung’

Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #17: Benni Diez Hopes His Audience Will Go Home and Make Love After Seeing 'Stung'

READ MORE: Meet the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Filmmakers

A campy-creepy creature feature about killer wasps and killer WASPs.

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

For catering staffers Paul and Julia a fancy garden party turns into a nightmare, as giant mutant killer wasps unleash mayhem on the guests.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

Capitalism! Well, not really. But it’s the hard working underdogs who have to save the day, as the upper class crowd virtually turns into flesh eating über-wasps. A survival thriller with a warm heart.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

Professionally I started out as a visual effects artist. But storytelling and filmmaking as a whole was always my passion. In the end my effects knowledge helped a lot with financing the movie, so I guess everything worked out pretty well. Other than that I enjoy making electronic music and having a good party with my friends.

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

Of course we had a truckload of visual effects to complete in post production, so that was tough just in terms of sheer size and numbers. But the real challenge for me was working with experienced actors and creating believable characters with them, because that was a first for me, even on this fairly small scale. But it turned out to be a mind blowing experience, and reassured me that I want to do this for the rest of my life.

What do you want the Tribeca audience to take away from your film?

Well I hope they feel their 90 minutes weren’t wasted. And that they can somehow sense how much of a passion project this has been for everyone involved. I’d like them to leave the theater with a big smile, go for a drink, and then go home and make passionate love. (The drink is optional.)

Any films inspire you?

‘Aliens’ for its audacity back in the day. Still a mind-blowing experience I frequently watch. ‘The Lego Movie’ for its big heart and brilliance on every level. ‘Star Wars’ (IV-VI) for inspiring a generation of geeks to change the world. ‘Jaws’, because the shark didn’t work, and thus a classic was born. Smart sci-fi/horror/fantasy movies in general, because they can broaden our view on the world in a way that other genres can’t.

What’s next?

Flexing my writing muscles, doing more cool visual effects projects on the side, and developing a few new feature film projects, hoping that one of them comes to fruition. And just trying to enjoy life after three years of battling big-ass wasps.

What cameras did you shoot on?

We shot on two Arri Alexa cameras with Hawke anamorphic lenses. My brilliant DP and I insisted early on that we need to shoot on quality lenses to get a nice cinematic and timeless look. I’m glad they let us. Also some additional green screen stuff shot on Red, also with Hawke optics.

Did you crowdfund?
If so, via what platform. If not, why?

Nope. The film was financed through pre-sales around a year before the shoot. We had made a 90 second concept teaser for a couple of bucks (which you can watch online) to convince people that we can pull off giant wasps in sufficient quality, and that was basically it. At that point crowd funding was discussed, but quickly abandoned, I guess because it would have been more work to handle the campaign than it would have helped the production. Also it sends a weird message to audiences if you already have a significant chunk of money and then go out and ask them for more. In my opinion at least.

Did you go to film school? If so, which one? 

I went to Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany, where I graduated with a diploma in visual effects and animation. Back then it was rarely heard of that you could make sci-fi and horror films as a directing student, so I consciously chose effects, which had always interested me. In the end I was lucky enough to do whatever I wanted and still direct live action stuff for my projects.

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

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