Following a second Film With Pride #FilmFridays screening of his award-winning documentary 1 Year, we caught up with Ben Hodge to find out how he was feeling about the short film’s success and what he’s working on next.
So, for those that don’t know you already, could you give us a little introduction?
“My name is Ben and I am a 20 year old filmmaker, performer, stand-up comedian, and trans* activist.”
You were recently announced as a winner of the Into Film Awards for your documentary 1 Year – how are you feeling about that?
“It feels great! I was so pleased when I found out I won best documentary, it’s amazing to think that my story and my life has touched so many different people. I was so excited and they sent me an awesome trophy and some lovely goodies! I’m so pleased to be recognised in this way.”
The film has been screened globally from Kathmandu to Australia and from Salford to back here in Liverpool. When you were making the film did you imagine it would be so successful?
“Seeing all the places it’s been, it’s kinda weird to think that some kid from little ol’ Prescot is capable of such a reach! I made the film originally as a way to celebrate my one year on testosterone and to show this to friends and family. I only submitted it into festivals and competitions as, after getting such a good response, I thought that maybe some young trans person at the start of their transition can know that it does get better, and also to show allies, parents, carers, teachers, etc. that trans people can thrive if they are given the right support and their needs are listened to.”
What is it about the film that you think has drawn such wide interest and audiences?
“I think the fact that I present my transition in a very “this is just a part of my life” kind of way, it takes away from the sensationalised narrative that trans people often receive in the media, so I think it’s just nice for people to see that we are just like everyone else.”
Tell us a bit more about your filmmaking – what inspires you, what drives you and what do you want to achieve from your work? How do you want audiences to react?
“I really like to focus on trans narratives and disrupting what the media has already accepted as the typical trans story. I want to see my community shown in a positive light, with more to their existence than just their transition. I’m currently trying to get funding for an idea I have about trans people and the idea of fertility. It’s something that I think is often seen as a big ‘shock horror!’ in the media – like it’s the end of the world – and I want to put a positive spin on that and show that trans people all experience things in their own unique way, and society needs to embrace that.”
Can you tell us a bit about your theatre and comedy work as well, what should people expect if they see you perform?
“Well it’s fairly different from my filmmaking. I use my trans and gay identity in my comedy to talk about loads of things from dating to working to just living as a trans person. I’m currently writing a new aspect of myself, talking about things that aren’t necessarily integrated with my trans identity. My persona I guess is quite dry and to-the-point, I don’t like to skirt around issues. I’d rather hit the audience with some dirty dry humour from a baby-faced scouse boy.”
1 Year saw you write a letter to yourself five years ago. If you five-years-from-now could write a letter to you today, what would you hope he would say?
“Good question! Hopefully by then I’ll just be doing what I love. Either in stand-up, theatre, or film/tv production. Hopefully I’ll still be with my partner and we’ll have at least one dog, and I hope to be living in Manchester or somewhere new and exciting. Maybe, at that point, I’ll be on Live at the Apollo or a panel show (I do love a good panel show), or maybe my films will get to Cannes or Raindance, who knows! Come back to me in five years…”
We most certainly will Ben! This year, our theme is ‘Young At Heart’, which promotes the right for LGBT+ people to live happy, healthy and carefree lives, regardless of how they identify. What does that theme mean to you?
“Being young at heart is something I sometimes struggle with. I think from having to navigate a lot of the healthcare system and the legal system in changing my name and details in loads of different places, I’ve had to mature a bit quicker. And I think that there’s still a long way to go before we can truly live carefree lives. A lot of this comes from the systems we have to enter, and the more aware they become of trans people and our needs and the more they endeavour to meet them, the more we can live happy carefree lives.”
Finally, what’s coming up? What’s the next step for your career?
“I’m currently getting as much production runner experience on TV sets as possible so, if anyone has any spaces for a runner in a film or tv show, please hire me 😋. I’m also looking for an agent to represent my acting and stand up work so if people have any advice please do let me know! I appreciate all the support.”