Ben Is Dead

Struggling to connect with her family on the 15th anniversary of her twin brother’s apparent suicide, Brittany James reaches out to her brother's childhood best friend, Luke, in an attempt to remember his life and finally let go of his death.

  • Lisa J Dooley
    Fun Size Horror: Volume One, Persephone
  • Lisa J Dooley
    Fun Size Horror: Volume One, Persephone
  • Kash Zehnder
  • Miriam Arghandiwal
  • Piper Shaw
  • Kaitlyn Black
    Key Cast
    Hart of Dixie, Raising Hope
  • Marguerite Moreau
    Key Cast
    Wet Hot American Summer, Queen of the Damned, Parenthood, Shameless, The Mighty Ducks
  • Craig Lee Thomas
    Key Cast
    Jane the Virgin, How I Met Your Mother
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Drama, Family
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 28, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    30,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Carmel International Film Festival
    Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
    United States
    October 18, 2017
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Twin Cities Film Festival
    Minneapolis, MN
    United States
    October 21, 2018
    Official Selection
  • Philadelphia Independent Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    May 5, 2018
    East Coast Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Saint Cloud Film Festival
    Saint Cloud, MN
    United States
    November 11, 2017
    Minnesota Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Catalina Film Fest
    Avalon, CA
    United States
    September 28, 2018
    Southern California Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Coronado Film Festival
    Coronado Island, CA
    United States
    November 10, 2018
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Lisa J Dooley

Lisa J Dooley recently graduated with her M.F.A. from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. Before attending USC, Lisa received her B.F.A. in Drama at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

‘Ben is Dead’, Lisa’s graduate thesis (which she wrote and directed), was shot on location at the Waite Park Granite Quarry in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and stars Kaitlyn Black (‘Hart of Dixie’, ‘Raising Hope’) and Marguerite Moreau (‘Wet Hot American Summer’, ‘Queen of the Damned’). 'Ben Is Dead' will begin its festival run in the Winter of 2017.

In 2014, Lisa was approached by producer Mali Elfman to create a 5 minute film for the Fun Size Horror Collective, an online project that gathered 31 horror shorts from dozens of filmmakers to be released online during the month of October. Her short ‘Persephone’, which she directed and co-wrote, went on to become one of the project’s best reviewed shorts, and was featured on Shock Till You Drop, Bloody Disgusting, and distributed through Gravitas Ventures on Hulu, iTunes and under the Fun Size Horror: Year One banner. After buzz generated by screenings in the festival circuit, including the Mile High Horror Festival and ScareLA, and a writeup on, Lisa is currently adapting ‘Persephone’ into a feature film.

Other short films written and directed by Lisa have been featured on, Film School Rejects, Funny or Die, and screened at over a dozen film festivals across the country and abroad.

At USC, Lisa adapted and directed Ellen Emerson White's beloved novel 'The Road Home' for her first narrative project. 'The Road Home' was an official selection of Sunscreen West, GI Film Festival, High Falls Film Festival, and the Burbank International Film Festival. While studying at USC, Lisa also served as a student assistant for Everett Lewis, award- winning filmmaker (‘The Natural History of Parking Lots’, ‘An Ambush of Ghosts’) and head of the Directing track, and worked to help increase the representation of women in Guest Director panels hosted at the school.

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Director Statement

Growing up in a large, close-knit family I've been privy to grief in many forms. As tragedy strikes, you witness how incredibly personal and specific the grieving process is to each and every person. But when it comes to family, you’re also there for the gossip, awkward interactions, and fights. You get to see the way people are judged if they’re not ‘dealing’ with their loss in an expected way; or more importantly, on a certain timeline.

It is this timeline that I wanted to explore in my film ‘Ben Is Dead’. All too often, we see the grieving process depicted in film immediately after the loss. When I sat down with a blank page to write ‘Ben Is Dead’ I started with one question: what does grief look like years and years down the road? Time passes and life goes on, but that loss is always with you in some way. It could be dormant for years, then the smallest moment opens that wound without your permission.

This film is for the cousin I’ve lost, the aunt I miss, my grandparents I loved, and the classmates that left us all too soon. They are part of some of my most cherished memories and have left holes in the hearts of the most important people in my life. Time doesn’t heal all wounds.

-Lisa J Dooley
‘Ben Is Dead’