34lukefilms = executive producer, director and creator BEN SELKOW. He is an award-winning, nineteen-year veteran filmmaker. He has executive produced, showrun and directed non-fiction pieces for Netflix, HBO, CNN, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Science Channel, Participant Media, Esquire Network/NBCU, SundanceTV and Fox Sports Net while working with Zero Point Zero, Mass Appeal, Matador Content, DreamWorks Television, KPI, Sharp, Blowback Productions, Muck Media, and Hock Films. Ben has worked on international long-form documentaries to feature film studio productions to commercials to music videos to television episodics. Working in all phases from development to delivery, from shoe-string to multi-million dollar budgets, has given Ben a vast creative, technical and logistical production experience.
NEW WORK | Currently, Ben is an executive producer and director collaborating with National Geographic and Muck Media for an 8-part docu-series entitled TRAFFICKED WITH MARIANA VAN ZELLER slated for 2020 release. Armed with National Geographic’s trademark inside access, TRAFFICKED explores the complex and often dangerous inner workings of the global underworld — smuggling networks, and black and informal markets. Each investigation embeds with Peabody and duPont Award-winning journalist Mariana van Zeller on a mission to track the chain of custody of trafficked goods; understand how to obtain the contraband; or see the 360-degree view of the trafficking world from the point of view of the smugglers, law enforcement and those caught in the crossfire. As she meets the willing players and unwitting individuals who make, buy, sell and move goods, services and ideas, Mariana attempts — with characteristic boldness and empathy — to unearth the geopolitical circumstances and context that create the world’s multi-trillion-dollar shadow economy.
PAST WORK | For Netflix and premiering at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, Ben was the executive producer, showrunner and one of the directors on the critically-acclaimed docu-series on hip hop culture collaborating with Mass Appeal’s Sacha Jenkins and Peter Bittenbender, entitled RAPTURE (2018). The series stares directly into the bright light that hip hop culture shines on the world and doesn’t blink. Throughout 8 episodes and featuring a diverse swath of artists — Nas and Dave East, T.I., Rapsody, Logic, G-Eazy, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, 2 Chainz and Just Blaze – Rapture dives into the artists’ lives with their families and friends, to sitting front row in the studio and grinding on tour, to experiencing the ecstatic power of moving the crowd. The series launches globally on March 30, 2018.
Previously, Ben directed all six episodes of the much anticipated series BELIEVER WITH REZA ASLAN (2017). This series travels the world looking at religions in conflict with religious scholar and host Reza Aslan immersing deeply into worlds of faith.
He also produced DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS (2016), a feature-length documentary that looks into a Dominican Republican park ranger’s gruesome murder and unfolds into a larger exploration of illegal Dominican-Haitian charcoal trafficking, mass deforestation, and escalating human conflict on the border. It premiered at the 2016 Hot Docs International Film Festival, won the Grand Jury Prize in the Documentary Competition at the Seattle International Film Festival, won the Audience Award at the 2016 DOC NYC Film Festival. The film was acquired by Participant Media and Univision.
Ben was the director, producer and writer of BURIED ABOVE GROUND (2016). This documentary film explores the harrowing stories of three Americans living with these burdens of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)—a combat-wounded Army Captain returning from Iraq with a Purple Heart, a native Nc ew Orleanian survivor of Hurricane Katrina, and a domestic violence survivor. With three stories, Buried Above Ground takes the realities of living with PTSD out of the shadows and allowing audiences to experience the emotional, medical, and financial costs of this mental health epidemic. It premiered at the 2015 Woodstock Film Festival, played at festivals internationally, won the 2016 VOICE Award for Best Documentary, premiered on PBS/World Channel’s America ReFramed documentary series, and is being distributed by Passion River Films.
In 2014, Ben was extremely busy in the non-fiction travel space. Ben was a director and producer on ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN (2014) for CNN and Zero Point Zero Productions. Ben also was the senior producer on three episodes of Esquire Network/NBCU’s travel series THE GETAWAY executive produced by Anthony Bourdain and Zero Point Zero. Ben produced episodes with Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def in Morocco, Jim Rash & Nat Faxon in Tokyo, and Zachary Levi in New Orleans.
Ben was the executive producer and co-creator of the docu-series WELCOME TO FAIRFAX (2014) for Pivot TV with Matador Content. The series takes a behind-the-scenes look at the vibrant, artistic, singular culture that has emerged in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles, seen through the eyes of the young visionaries who inhabit it.
Previously, Ben was the senior story producer for Sundance Channel’s GET TO WORK with Emmy Award winning EP Jeff Grogan and Sharp Entertainment, as well as a post producer on Zero Point Zero Productions’ HAWAII AIR RESCUE docu-series for The Weather Channel writing and supervising the edits.
With Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning Brick City and Chicagoland creator and executive producer Marc Levin, Ben was the producer of the HBO documentary PRAYER FOR A PERFECT SEASON. The film follows America’s #1 high school basketball team in 2011, parochial St. Patrick High School in hardscrabble Elizabeth, NJ. Narrated by Bobby Cannavale, the documentary take a no-holds barred look at the team’s trials, tribulations and observance of the mantra, “family over everything” in pursuit of the mythical high school national championship against their chief rival, St. Anthony’s coached by legendary coach Bob Hurley, Sr.
From 2010-2011, Ben produced all phases of first-time director Maggie Betts feature documentary THE CARRIER, which was distributed by Cinedigm, aired on PBS’ Afro-Pop series and premiered in the World Documentary Competition at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. The film is about prevention of mother to child HIV transmission prevention and was shot on location in rural Zambia over four months. The Carrier was supported by UNICEF and (RED) campaigns and screened at the Zurich, Big Sky and Sedona Film Festivals.
In 2011, Ben was a post producer on Steven Spielberg and Danny Forster’s RISING: REBUILDING GROUND ZERO for Discovery and Science Channel produced by DreamWorks Television and KPI. This prestigious six-part series which documents the emotions, people, and challenges behind constructing the 104-story One World Trade Center in the wake of the terror attacks of September 11.
A SUMMER IN THE CAGE was Ben’s first feature-length documentary. He was the director/producer/cinematographer/writer of this six-year study of a young man pre-diagnosis of bipolar disorder through his intense bouts with mania, depression and attempted suicide. The film premiered nationally on Sundance Channel in October 2007. A Summer in the Cage won the 2009 Mental Health America (MHA) Media Award in the Documentary Category and received the award at the Centennial Conference in Washington, DC. The film was nominated for a 2008 Prism Award for Bipolar Disorder Depiction by the Entertainment Industries Council and a SAMHSA VOICE Award Honorable Mention.
Ben was selected as a Fellow for The Carter Center’s 2010-2011 Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism for his documentary Buried Above Ground. The fellowship program is part of the Carter Center’s Mental Health Program, which works around the world to reduce stigma and discrimination against people with mental illnesses and to decrease incorrect and stereotypical information. The program also seeks to increase access to mental health services and inform mental health public policy.
Ben was honored as one of 50 Non-Fiction Filmmakers at the Current TV/Fader Films Symposium “A Day of Dialogue and the Future of Non-Fiction Film”, featuring keynote speaker former Vice President Nobel Prize honoree, Academy Award winner and Current TV founder Al Gore, as well as luminary filmmakers Barbara Kopple, Albert Maysles, Alex Gibney, and Marc Levin.
For Hock Films, Ben worked as an associate producer on the Emmy-winning Beyond the Glory (2000-2001) for Fox Sports Net. Ben also was a field producer/camera operator for a series of street basketball DVD’s entitled Straight from the Streets (2000). He began his film experience as a production assistant and assistant director on feature films such as Meet the Parents (2000), What Lies Beneath (2000), Center Stage (2000) and Random Hearts (1999), television shows such as Sex in the City and The Sopranos.
Ben holds a double-major Bachelor of Arts with Honors in both Film Studies and African-American Studies from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut where he received the W.E.B. Du Bois Academic Award for Overall Excellence. He received a certificate from the School for International Training in Tanzania, East Africa.
Ben was born in Montreal, Canada and is a dual-citizen.