A Mindful Approach to Directing with Ben Caron

Ben Caron joins Giles Alderson and Christian James to chat about his new film Sharper.

For Ben Caron, being a director means being a leader on set. ‘Everyone looks to you. Or looks to you to be in control and have some idea about what you’re doing’ or what’s happening beneath the surface. Everyone talks about the swan, don’t they?

Underneath your leg is kicking away, but on top you’re cruising along, having a great time. That’s exactly what I’m doing.’

Mindfulness on Set

He shared how he discovered transcendental meditation through Sir Kenneth Branagh while directing Wallander.

Years later, he came across a meditation app and after noticing changes in his own state of mind, he decided to try to introduce it to his team on the set of Sherlock, starting with the actors.

‘I mentioned it to Benedict Cumberbatch and he was like I’d love to do that. And Martin Freeman was up for it. And then I mentioned it to Mark Gatiss, the co-writer. And he was like, we can do this. Now I’ve got to get all the crew on board.’

Although initially hesitant, the crew soon warmed up to the idea of taking ten minutes to just stand and do nothing at the start of each day. And Ben believes that the daily practice of mindfulness helped in making the set a more positive space.

Actor-Director Relationship

While he emphasized the importance, for him, of discovering one’s own relationship with the actors and warned against inheriting someone else’s viewpoint.

‘Every director has a different personality and you are going to have to work out your relationship with the actor. My process is playing. This is how I get work done, and sometimes I have to slightly change my approach in order to shoot an episode.

You want to hold onto a bit of spontaneity and playfulness. As long as you’ve been a good student and you’ve done all your work, then you can afford yourself time to do that.’

A Bit About Sharper

Although Apple was confused by Ben’s thoughts about not promoting the film before it came out – he didn’t want them ‘to tell anyone about the movie. They were like, hang on Ben, we need to sell it.’

But he stands by the notion that you should watch the film without knowing much about it – so we won’t give away any spoilers or share the trailers – ‘my experience reading the script for Sharper was that I knew nothing about it. And I would encourage anyone that comes to this film to just go and watch it.’

However, if you’d like a bit of a head’s up, according to Ben, it is ‘a comic thriller that explores sexual politics, trust, and betrayal. It features a non-linear narrative that echoes the story’s twists and turns.’

To find out more about Sharper and Ben Caron’s directing and filmmaking, listen here.

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