Loveland Reporter-Herald

‘It’s this really intricate balance’

Windsor writer, director Ben Hess to embark on new project highlighti­ng the complicate­d subject of consent

- By Tamara Markard tmarkard@greeleytri­

Where does consent begin and end in relationsh­ips — or does it ever end?

That is the question that Windsor-based film writer and director Ben Hess is looking to address in his upcoming short film project, “Head.”

The film is based off of real events and tells the story of two college roommates, Jeremy and Eric, who over the course of the semester become more than just friends.

However, things take a turn for the worse when Eric’s bigoted upbringing rises to the surface after an incident where boundaries are crossed.

Hess describes the film as “part dramatic love story, part cautionary tale” that delves into what happens in a relationsh­ip “when trust is broken, consent is questioned and forgivenes­s seems impossible.”

“This is a short that tackles some social issues. The crux of it is around consent — sex assault, essentiall­y,” Hess explained. “It’s a very delicate topic and I am trying really hard to be as conscienti­ous as I can about how it is going to be presented and all that.”

While the film will address a few different issues and questions, the main focal point is: Does consent end when two people enter into a relationsh­ip?

“I’ve talked with people about this story and I’ve had people say ‘oh my goodness, that’s happened to me by my spouse or by the person I am in a relationsh­ip with and I’ve never thought twice about it.’ And a lot of people wouldn’t think about it,” Hess said. “It’s this really intricate balance between where is the right and wrong.”

Another big part of the film’s message is about being true to yourself and accepting who you are.

“Don’t let external factors play into that,” Hess said.

As with a majority of independen­t film projects, Hess is looking to community members, fellow artists, businesses and organizati­ons to help fund the project.

Through a Kickstarte­r campaign, Hess is hoping to raise $14,575, which will pay for the cast and crew’s rates, production costs and film festival fees.

“This is considered a moderate budget for a short film, and I am looking for any help that I can get,” Hess said.

On Jan. 30, the clock started running on film’s Kickstarte­r. The program gives Hess exactly 30 days to raise the money. However, if he doesn’t raise the full amount by the 30th day, he gets none of the money donated to the campaign.

To date, the fundraisin­g effort has netted a little over $5,000 with less than 20 days left to raise the requested amount.

While the subject of the film is big, the cast is small —consisting of only three members.

“We have a very inclusive and diverse cast and crew, who are solely focused on

Writer and director Ben Hess tackled the issue of human traffickin­g in his short film, “Maggie.”

telling a sensitive story the right way,” Hess said.

Erik Sokolowski, an actor from Loveland, is portraying Jeremy in the film. Sokolowski has been working on his craft over the past nine years, performing on stage and in a variety of film pieces.

Daniel Van Note, from Denver, will be playing the part of Eric in the short film. Van Note is well versed in the production of short films as he has written, produced, directed and starred in a number projects. Van Note’s latest short film,

“Coming Out” won four awards at internatio­nal film festivals.

Abena is an American and Ghanaian model, artist and activist who has been cast in the part of Rita Delaney. Abena, who was born in Fort Morgan, can be seen in campaigns for Furniture Row, Crocs, Starbucks, Verizon, Tinder and is best known for her skin representa­tion in the video game “Call of Duty II” as the character, Nila “Nova” Brown.

Along with Hess behind the camera, Jamal Page is producing the film while

Northern Colorado film writer and director Ben Hess is embarking on a new project that will shed light on the topic of consent.

Eliza Miller is serving as assistant director.

Hudson Bloom is director of photograph­y, Antonia Yanez is the lead production assistant, Russick Smith is sound engineer and Becky Frazee is in charge of hair and makeup for the film.

“Head” isn’t the first film where Hess has tackled controvers­ial or sensitive subjects.

His short film, “Maggie” addressed human traffickin­g in a gripping and gritty 20 minutes.

Hess partnered with

 ?? BEN HESS — COURTESY PHOTOS ?? The cast of the upcoming movie, “Head,” from left to right, are Erik Sokolowski playing Jeremy, Abena plays Det. Delaney and Daniel Van Note is playing the role of Eric.
BEN HESS — COURTESY PHOTOS The cast of the upcoming movie, “Head,” from left to right, are Erik Sokolowski playing Jeremy, Abena plays Det. Delaney and Daniel Van Note is playing the role of Eric.
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