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Ben Cocico, Director
Ben Coccio, Director

Ben Coccio first started making movies at age 12 with his familys VHS camcorder. After studying film at the Rhode Island School Of Design, his first 35mm short, 5:45 am, was picked up by the Independent Film Channel in mid-2000 and was also an official selection of the 1999 London International Film Festival.

Before it was released theatrically in America, Coccios award-winning first feature Zero Day was a controversial hit on the festival circuit. Zero Day won six grand jury prizes and four audience awards for Best Feature. Coccio was awarded a $100,000 filmmaking grant from the Florida Film Festival and complementary DVD authoring from Sony Pictures Entertainment. In 2003, Coccio was named one of the twenty-five new faces of independent film by Filmmaker Magazine and in December of the same year he was nominated for the 2004 Someone to Watch Independent Sprit award.

Ben Coccio IMDb Filmography

Answer This?
Q & A with Mr.Coccio
Film Addiction: I watched Zero Day before reading any press material beforehand. The film had a realistic feel to it. I had to stop and look to see if it was a real story myself?Was that your intent?

Ben Coccio:Definitely. I love realism in movies. I love what realism means to an audience when they watch a movie not just the performances or the dialogue or the cinematography, but also what an audience expects from a movie and what an audience expects from real life. I wanted to deprive the audience of a lot of the things that make a movie feel like a movie, but still have Zero Day be, essential, just that a movie, maybe in its simplest form.

FA: How much of Zero Day was scripted?

BC:Every scene except two were in the script. The improve factor was really only relegated to dialogue and not direction of the plot or character arcs or anything. Andre and Cal added so much to what I had written for them that they made the characters truly 3 dimensional, but they never took those characters and brought them somewhere fundamentally different from what was already in the script.

FA: What type of camera did you use for the shooting of Zero Day?

BC:I used two consumer grade camcorders. A Sony 3-chip TRV- DCR900 and a clunky ol Digital 8 for stunt work.
Scene from "Zero Day"
FA: Winning the grant at the Florida Film Festival should definitely help catapulted your next project. With that said, how are you going to spend the money? (i.e.. What is your next project?)

BC:It didn't, unfortunately. I didnt get money, I got in-kind grants from different companies in Florida (i.e. $2,000 bucks worth of story-boarding from Stroyboards-R-Us or $3,000 worth of post-production sound from some Florida post facility that charges $4000 a day). All the coupons I received are spread out over a couple years with staggered beginning and expiration dates, so it is hard to use them all at once. Its kind of a booby prize, but it sounds very impressive.

My next project is whichever of the many things Id like to do gets the go ahead first. Id like to work with someone elses money and a real budget next time!
FA: I ask this of a lot of independent filmmakers: Do you prefer to shoot on Film or Video and why?

BC:Different tools for a different effect, you know? It all depends on the material you are working with. I love film. I love video. I think they both have a place right now. In the future, I think the kind of video we see now will be gone, replaced with a higher quality film-like video. But, the kind of video we know and love will always have a place, just like super 8 still finds its way into movies.
Scene from the film "Zero Day"
FA: Filmmaker Magazine named you one of its Filmmakers to Watch. Does this put pressure you to up the bar so to speak (challenge yourself to bigger better)?

BC:Nope. I am a filmmaker to watch, and I think no matter what I do, its at least watchable.

FA: What was your experience on the film festival circuit? Do you think this was instrumental in getting your film launched?

BC:No question. With out festivals, my film never would have been picked up for distribution, I never would have won the awards I won (which got me some attention which lead to more attention). Without festivals, you wouldnt be asking me any of these questions!
A Closer Look:
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Two teenagers (Keuck, Robertson) who call themselves "The Army of Two" decide to stage a Columbine-style assault against their high school. The film presents their story in the form of video diaries which are found after the fact, using a mixture of actors and real high school students to create a Blair Witch Project-ish sense of reality.
"Ready to have Columbine explode in your face? Ben Coccios Zero Day is a potent, unsentimentalized, unsettling fictional imagining of what led up to, and what happened on, that kamikaze day of random murder. Were captive audience to a year of homicidal planning, cooped up with Calvin (Calvin Robertson) and Andre (Andre Keuck), creepy high-school lads with a fetishized love for weaponry, a warped romantic belief that theyre high-school samurais, and an essential American obsession with having their saga of death live on for the media. They tape everything so that it can be to be turned over to, ideally, Wolf Blitzer at CNN.  Coccio shoots quite brilliantly, in low-res-and-improv Blair Witch-style DV, and the two unknown leads are charismatic in a sick, nasty kind of way. This low-rent Taxi Driver-meets-Compulsion deserves an audience."
- Gerald Peary, BOSTON PHOENIX