HABANA Welcomes Director Ben Starkman

We are excited to welcome Ben Starkman, talented film director and cinematographer, to the HABANA roster.

Though Starkman found his passion behind the lens of the camera at the young age of 17, his life in the advertising industry started on the other side of the camera. At age five, he was featured in a Stouffer’s commercial, and then landed a starring role in a Jello commercial with Bill Cosby — where he learned the hard way how difficult on-screen can be. “We shot six different scenes that day and I was so sick from take-after-take of eating a fresh bowl of pudding every time,” he laughed.

It All Began With Superman

A native New Yorker, Ben came across a camera crew filming the first Superman movie in his Brooklyn neighborhood in the late ’70s. That scene made quite an impression.

“Superman was hoisted up on a big cable with a fan blowing on him and I thought ‘Oh, that’s how they do that! Cool!’ I got to see the camera, lights, crew and everything. It was amazing.”

As a teenager, one of his most memorable experiences included working as Dennis Hopper’s assistant – and chauffeur – on the set of a six week-long production.

Diversity and Drive

While you may have seen several of Ben’s previous works of art representing companies like Chobani, Motorola and Sesame Street – we consider Starkman a man of many talents.

“I do so many different things,” he said. “One of my most recent productions required interviewing people along with the cinematography skills I already had. I enjoy working with people that I like. Otherwise, I’d be miserable. I like working with nice people. ”

Ben likes to be involved in his work all the way through post-production, and immerses himself in the editing process. He feels blessed to have worked with some of the best editors in the business.“You can never get that kind of an education in school,” he said.

Words from the wise?

“It’s a lot about who you collaborate with. I love collaborating with editors and agency creatives. Editors are the first people I go to before shooting. I have a lot of respect for their input and perspective.”

Community Involvement

Some of Ben’s fondest memories of working in the film industry include his involvement in the Sundance Film Festival. He worked on a film with his friend JJ Lask as a cinematographer that he recalls as, “an amazing experience.”  He enjoys using his talents to give back whenever he can.

“I’m always looking forward to the future and working on the next big thing,” he said. “Part of my involvement with the ALS Association of New York is to volunteer my time annually to create a film for them. They get better and better every year.”

It’s a horrible disease and a very emotional process for all parties involved, but Ben says it’s totally worth it. “I’m very happy to help and raise awareness,” he said. “The bucket challenge was everywhere. The Yankees get involved too.”

Ben is a director and DP, and began working with HABANA this year.