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Ben Hansford — Director & USC Professor


Ben Hansford has his finger on the pulse of filmmaking — the prognosis is excellent. Beginning his career in VFX, Ben moved into directing short films and commercials for the likes of Old Spice, Starfield, Call of Duty, Nike, and many more. He also teaches AI at the University of Southern California (USC), giving him unfettered access to the minds of a new generation of filmmakers.

Ben shares his thoughts on how converging pipelines and creative innovations like AI will create a new kind of filmmaking, in the same way that lightweight cameras enabled the French New Wave and, in turn, New Hollywood. He also talks about the legal and quality issues that surround AI technology, and he finishes with an upbeat vision for the future of filmmaking and telling stories.


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0:03:56 What inspired Ben to become a director

0:08:25 How technology is converging in filmmaking

0:14:04 Are we slaves to an algorithm?

0:19:56 How Ben got into teaching AI at USC

0:25:12 Protesting Ben's class

0:27:20 Thoughts on the legal issues surrounding AI

0:32:28 The quality of AI

0:35:41 John Waters, Midjourney, French New Wave, and Francis Ford Coppolla

0:39:22 The convergence of creativity in LA

0:44:29 Do filmmakers need to adapt or die?

0:48:21 The huge changes in the VFX industry

0:52:34 "Everything Everywhere All At Once" and "Godzilla Minus One"

0:56:19 Ben's vision for the future of filmmaking

About the author

Christopher Nichols

Chris is a CG industry veteran and Director of Chaos Labs. He can also be heard regularly as the host of the CG Garage podcast which attracts 20,000 weekly listeners. With a background in both VFX and Design, Chris has worked for Gensler, Digital Domain, Imageworks and Method Studios. His credits include Maleficent, Oblivion and Tron: Legacy.

Originally published: January 22, 2024.
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