When senior Ben Peterson joined Graham Middle School’s broadcasting program, he had no idea it would play such a huge role in determining his future. Yet here he is, nearly seven years later, Freestyle’s 2019 Student of the Year.
Peterson has been a member of Freestyle for the past two years and has worked on every film genre, from comedy to drama to documentaries.
Peterson said he values the community he has found and the “hardworking and passionate” people he has been able to collaborate with on his films. He worked on his most recent film, Voyage, about a man searching for Eden during the apocalypse, with LAHS senior Amanda Chan. The film was a project the senior Freestyle students had been working on for over three months, and involved scriptwriting, casting, directing, filming, and editing.
“I just want people to watch my films and be inspired to do what they want to do,” Peterson said. “People do great things when they’re trying to be creative.”
While Peterson said he likes every aspect of filmmaking, he prefers participating in pre-production tasks such as writing the script, because he can “play around with so many different ideas.”
“There’s always a moment when you’re writing a story when you have a continuity error or an issue you have to resolve or a character that isn’t working out… and then when you finally figure out a good solution there’s just this feeling that you get that’s like you’ve accomplished something really cool and that’s really satisfying,” Peterson said.
Cinematography is also included in the pre-production process. Peterson said it is his favorite part of filmmaking which he described as, “trying to take whatever you wrote, whatever feeling is a part of that scene and put it on the camera.”
While Peterson hasn’t faced many big setbacks, he feels that what he has experienced has taught him to be more resilient.
“Things come up along the way that seem like these big setbacks, but you have to find a way to work around it,” Peterson said.
Although Peterson doesn’t know exactly what genre he wants to pursue, he does hope to continue to work in film, like his dad who worked at Dreamworks. While Peterson doesn’t believe that his father is directly responsible for his passion in film, he does think his father’s work subconsciously influenced him.
“Whenever I’m doing film, I find the time passing quickly and I find myself enjoying the time more than if I was doing anything else,” Peterson said.