Olivia and Dennis Bentivengo producers of "Useless"Best Film 2011 - 168 Film Festival
Best Short Film 2012 - San Antonio Christian Film Festival

Brandon Adams, Writer/Director/DP

“168” FILMMAKERS OF EXCELLENCE WIN AGAIN: This week, we learned that one of our filmmakers has won a competition outside 168.  Our presenting sponsor Echolight Studios, offered a $250,000 feature film budget to the winner of the best short film at the San Antonio Christian Film Festival.  Both the winner and the runner-up began as entries, specifically made for the 168 Film Project.  This is external confirmation that the 168 model works.  SEE TRAILER

The film is called “Useless,” produced by husband and wife team, Dennis and Olivia Bentivengo and written, directed and shot by Brandon Adams.  “Useless” collected three awards (of 11 nominations) at the 168 Film Festival 2011 including Best Film, Best Actor (Kevin Sizemore) and Best Cinematography (Brandon Adams).  Www.USELESSmovie.com

The runner-up was “Static,” with 10 nominations.  It was produced by Brandon Carmichael, Alan Tregoning and Jason Walter Vaile and won the Best Actress Award (Morgan Alana Taylor).


“USELESS” producers Dennis Bentivengo (DB) 
and Brandon Adams (BA) 

How does it feel to win the budget for your next film?
Dennis: For USELESS to win Best Short Film at the SAICFF and get awarded the prize of $250k to make a feature, that just reminds us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."  This verse is the name Bentivengo’s production company - Matthew 6:33 films.

Brandon: Pretty unbelievable. It took a few days for it to sink-in, but when it did it was a bit hard to focus on anything. My mind keeps racing to all of the possibilities I've dreamed about over the years. 

Tell us how you became involved with 168.
Dennis: I was working Special Effects in Hollywood for Commercials, TV, and film.  (At times, this job forced me to) promote ideals that were counter-Biblical.  (The Lord) gave me and Olivia (wife) confirmation through prayer to produce a 168 as first time producers in 2011.  God’s dreams for me were far better than my original dreams of Special Effects Pyrotechnics, because there was a purpose, and a purpose to reach the world for Christ.  168 has given us a platform to follow the calling the Lord has put on our lives, to affect the world for Christ through the art of film, and to do it with the very best of our ability and more importantly with God's guidance and provision.

Brandon: My first 168 film was in 2008 ("Seed For You").  I was excited for the opportunity to experiment with how to incorporate a biblical worldview into film. It's not an easy thing to do.

What do you want others to know?
Dennis: Christian films don't equal mediocre films. When you're tempted to say, "That's good enough for a 168," which I heard come out of the mouths of a crew on another project, rebuke the enemy and give your absolute best and; don't sell yourself or the Lord short.  

Do you like the pressure of 168?  Why?
Brandon: Absolutely. Creativity needs boundaries and pressure and deadlines. It creates an opportunity for people to pool their resources together for an intense couple of weeks and get something done. Otherwise it could drag out for a year or more and never get done. I tend to thrive under pressure, so I feel very at home at 168.

How has 168 shaped you as a person?
Brandon: It is extremely helpful to be competing in a context where other believers will sharpen you and hold you accountable for your attitude and treatment of others. You can often get away with behavior that does not honor God when working in other contexts, but during 168 iron tends to sharpen iron and the Spirit often works to bear much fruit. The competition aspect can be difficult to deal with as it reveals levels of pride in our hearts that we'd rather not acknowledge. But God works through that to reveal our sin and prepare us for new situations where we may glorify Him.