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netribution > features > shooting from the chip > benjamin craig -
Ben Craig is the Shire horse of the Australian (London based) cross-media production company called Cinemagine. Working primarily in audio-visual production in both the web and also in film, video, and music its a young team that has created and maintained three websites, two of them being fantastic resources for filmmakers. The first is a webzine called, Cannes - A Festival Virgin's Guide which is exactly what it says it is but please don't trust me on this one, use your initiative (
| by nic wistreich|

| in london |

The second is only hosted by Cinemagine but targets, in Ben's words, " (a) rich, detailed fantasy world of novels and role-playing games", its called the Dragonlance Movie Site and will appeal to those with the most vivid imaginations by the looks of it. The third is my particular favourite, not that that has anything to do with the price of fish, but I'm writing this thing so screw you all! Its an awarding winning site that's been around since I was a bearded barman way back in the hot summer of '94... oh '94, those halcyon days..., sorry - its called the Internet Filmmakers FAQ ( and it can answer any question you lob at it. I'm not just saying that either, I've tried. Its also a film related bookstore and has the kind of smooth edged, no crapping around design that often arouses an intrepid internet explorer (that's me) to cataclysmic eruptions and bellows of triumph in my lonely bedroom of a Monday evening!
Anyway, that's quite enough of that.

How and why was Cinemagine conceived?
Cinemagine was conceived as a vehicle for our endeavours in film, television, and music production. Over the past few years, this has also really evolved to include new media, which now has a direct and far-reaching effect on the traditional media in which we are all interested. The fact that all the current members now have extensive experience in new media production has also heavily influenced the evolution of the company.

What are the creators' backgrounds?
The primary drivers behind Cinemagine are myself and Patrick van Kann. I have an extensive background in theatre production and spent several years at film school and i've also working in the industry in Australia. Patrick is a physics graduate who has a major interest in the independent music scene but also in media production as a whole. The other main partners in the venture are Chris O'Brien, a design-orientated computer science grad, and Mike Westcott, a media production graduate. All four of us are from Perth, Western Australia.How much of your time do you devote to production compared to site upkeep?
Responsibility for the various sites falls entirely under my control and the other members have little to no involvement in the development and operation of them. The main reason for this is these sites have been around as personal activities of mine for longer than Cinemagine has been around. The formation of the company provided a better umbrella under which to group the related activities.In terms of production versus maintenance on the sites? Production work is done fairly rarely, while maintenance is conducted on a weekly basis. The exact amount of maintenance varies across the different sites, primarily because some are event-driven like Cannes while others rely on the availability of new information, like Dragonlance. The Internet Filmmaker's FAQ is the most frequently updated site of the three, I suppose on that for between 5 and 10 hours a week. Although I'd like to increase this but my other commitments prevent that from happening.Tell us about Dragonlance?
Dragonlance is a rich, detailed fantasy world of novels and role-playing games created and owned by TSR Inc which is now part of Wizards of the Coast but Cinemagine has no official connection with TSR/Wizards. The site was created as a central resource for news and rumours concerning film/TV projects based on Dragonlance, motivated by a personal interest on my behalf in the subject matter. I, like many others, believe that the core work behind this world represents one of the finest examples of the genre and we'd love to see a decent big screen adaptation of the main works. Although as a filmmaker I would love to be involved in such a project, at this point in my career the size of the project is a little out of my league. Beyond the fact that the Dragonlance Movie Site is hosted by Cinemagine, there is no other connection between the company and Dragonlance other than my involvement.Where do you see Cinemagine's future lies?
The future of Cinemagine is undoubtedly a mixture of broadband and traditional media production. We are currently in the early stages of developing a couple of broadband projects, but we're also interested in more traditional filmmaking (primarily independent features). The convergence of Internet and television will also undoubtedly play an important part in our future.
Do you think the internet is more use as a production tool than an exhibition platform?
I think realistically, the Internet is a little way off being an exhibition platform that offers comparable quality to other platforms available today and a cost-effective distribution model for content owners. Whilst it is great for exposure, the bandwidth, copyright, and indeed the business model issues still require a large degree of work before the Internet could become a serious challenger to other exhibition media (such as TV, cinema etc.). I think before we see any mass exhibition on the Internet, you will see smaller, localised private high-speed networks that move into embrace the new distribution technologies.As a production tool, the Internet itself is not particularly useful. As a communication tool (an important component of production), the Internet is invaluable, particularly as the market for media content is now global.How close are your ties to the Australian film student industry now?
We have very little contact, if any, with the Australian student production industry. Australia has quite a protective, closed shop environment to it's media production industry, and is really unable to effectively compete on a global stage. One of the primary goals of setting up shop in the UK was to escape this restrictive environment and work somewhere where new ideas actually have a chance of succeeding.What are your top 5 film sites?
Tough call. In no particular order:
CML -, just for the sheer usefulness of the resources
Cyber Film School -, a great resource for newbies and indies alike.
iF Magazine -, loads of useful info for independent filmmakers
IndieWIRE -, THE news service for Independent filmmakers.
Ain't It Cool News -, not as good as it used to be but still the best place to get unbiased info on new and upcoming films.
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