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Ben Makinen is an award-winning filmmaker, producer, composer, and recording artist. He is the founder and president of the record publishing label Bmakin Music and of the film production company Bmakin Film. In 2020 he founded the International Modern Film Alliance (IMFA) offering workshops around the world to "teach and promote the art of storytelling through the marriage of music and film."
His first feature length documentary film, JazzTown, is currently available to buy and rent on AppleTV, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu and Vimeo On Demand.
JazzTown (2022) has won numerous awards at film festivals "Best Director Documentary Feature" at the San Diego Movie Awards festival, "Best Picture" at the Rome Movie Awards festival, “Best Soundtrack” at the New Orleans Second Line Film
Festival and the Critic's Choice Award in the World Film Carnival-Singapore and has been selected as a Finalist in both the Fourth Dimension Independent Film Festival in Bali and the Europa Film Festival in Barcelona, while garnering Official Selections at the International Symbolic Film Festival (St Petersburg, Russia), the IndieFEST Film Awards, CKF Film Festival (UK), Thinking Hat Fiction Challenge, Logcinema Music Film Festival, and The Rome Movie Awards and the New Orleans Second LIne Film Festival.
Director Ben Makinen's short doc titled Who Killed Jazz (2023) has won 25 awards globally on the film festival circuit ("Best Director" Bollywood International Film Awards; "Best Short" Hollywood Gold Awards; "Best Editing" World Film Carnival...) and has 19 additional Official Selections.
Ben's short film Anthropocene was a finalist in the 2021 Cosmo Genetics Film Fest in Saint Petersburg, Russia; an Official Selection in the 2021 Sweet Democracy Film Awards in Rome, Italy and 2019 Official Selections of both the Nederland International Film Fest and the EFPalooza Film Fest in Colorado, USA.
Makinen's short sci-fi thriller, The Mission, is a 2021 Finalist in the Fourth Dimension Independent Film Festival, and an Official Selection in the 2021 World Independent Film Awards and was an Official Selection in the 2020 EFPalooza Film Festival
One of Makinen's more recent Music Videos, "Hypomania", was selected as a 2021 Finalist at the Fourth Dimension Independent Film Festival as well!
The Emerging Filmmaker’s Project chose Ben’s short film The Mission as an Official Selection of the 2020 EFPalooza Film Festival. The Mission is also a 2021 Finalist at Bali's Fourth Dimension Independent Film Festival!
Ben Makinen founded the International Modern Film Alliance in March of 2020. The IMFA’s mission is to teach and promote the art of modern storytelling through the marriage of music and film. He has begun workshops in Bali, Indonesia in partnership with The Bali International Film Festival: Balinale.
Born in Maine, Ben grew up in California, Washington, and Oklahoma before graduating high school in Colorado.
Seeing Miles Davis perform live three times and then meeting the Dalai Lama in person forever changed the way Ben would approach the art of music and film~with honesty, strength, beauty and compassion.
As a drummer and percussionist, he has been touring the world as a sideman since 1985 with r&b, funk, and rock bands, jazz trios and big bands, avant-garde electronica ensembles, in Broadway shows, and on international cruise ships.
On the jazz stages he has drummed for Red Holloway, Javon Jackson, Brad Leali, Art Lande, Greg Gisbert, jazz bag piper Duke Payne, Hazel Miller, Billy Tolles, Billy Wallace, and Joe Bonner, Teresa Carroll ... He has performed as a percussionist with the Central City Opera, the Colorado Symphony, and the Colorado Chamber Players.
Makinen composed the score to the short film Strong Tea directed by Kelly McAllister, and has composed and performed music for his own films JazzTown, Anthropocene, Who Killed Jazz & The Mission (coming to Vimeo On Demand Summer of2023).
Ben is the producer of Tom Ball's Latin-Jazz album Fishleather Jacket which received the Roger Bobo Excellence In Recording Award in June of 2006.
Songs from Fishleather Jacket are now featured in Makinen's 2022 short film titled Who Killed Jazz.
Ben is also a 2006 Independent Music Awards Finalist- Film/TV-Multimedia for his song 6AM.
His songs can be downloaded from all major digital music vendors including iTunes and Rhapsody. As a leader and sideman, Makinen has performed on over 100 recordings.
He has also produced a DVD of traditional african dance and music featuring David Gweshe's troupe Boterekwa from Zimbabwe.
Ben Makinen's short films are found on YouTube!
Makinen maintains a busy schedule producing, composing and performing music while directing, shooting, and editing film and music videos.
Ben Makinen's major motion picture endeavor in 2023 is the feature length documentary on women in jazz titled We Are Here: Women In Jazz. We Are Here is an exploration of masculine and feminine energy in transgender, transgenre and transformative improvisation. What obstacles to women face in a male dominated society? What is gender disparity in jazz? Click on this paragraph to see a teaser from the editing desk of Makinen. Gorgeous fretless bass music for this trailer has been provided by Ibanez endorsed Japanese bassist Yuki Atari IG @yuki_atori
This film has an amazing cast of luminaries: Diane Reeves (JazzTown; Who Killed Jazz), The Manhattan Transfer, Tanya Darby, Ingrid Jensen, Andromeda Turre, Eric Baines, David Booker, Veronica Swift, Harleen Singh, Nita Aartsen, Professor Pattuelli, Endea Owens, Shirazette Tinnen, Natalis Ruby, Dominique Danielle, Delbert Anderson, Ervin Pope, Chantil Dukart, Andrea Brachfeld, Sherri Maricle, Julia Keefe, Rachel Gould, Chelsea Baratz, Kelly B Clingan, Akua Dixon and more...
In the early 80s, as a teenager living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Ben was cast as an extra in Francis Ford Coppola's film The Outsider's. I made a short video on my experiences on the set of S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders and sent it in to The Outsiders Museum for their 40th Reunion ExtravaGanza. You can watch it by clicking on this paragraph.
Ben has also written a children's story on the adventures of two turtles named Chim & Chum. This book (release date winter 2023) features the artwork of Ben Makinen's Balinese niece Diah Angelika who's digital works of beauty can be found on her Instagram account @kurocake23