The Filmmakers

The filmmakers, each in caps reading ‘dirt!’ smile subtly at the camera.
Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow

Gene Rosow
DIRT! The Movie Producer/Director

We are treating dirt as a story, not a topic. We want people to start off with an emotional connection to dirt. Then we want to instill a sense of caution about the destructive things we are doing to nature and dirt and how those behaviors impact our daily lives.

What keeps him motivated as an independent filmmaker:

My situation is sort of like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football that Lucy pulls out at the last moment. I don’t know any better. Also, a shared opinion with other filmmakers that though the world of corporate studio filmmaking offers better paydays and cooler production assets, indie filmmaking offers other satisfactions. As I mentioned before, the documentary journey is one filled with adventures and explorations of ideas, and topics that take you to new places — physically, spiritually, and politically. Above all, indie films allow us the opportunity to make media that matters beyond the bottom line; we can offer something that resonates and can contribute to a better world … if we want to.

His three favorite films:

I was a film historian in a previous life (I wrote a book on gangster films called Born To Lose: A Social History of the American Gangster Film, Oxford University Press), so many films are among my favorites. Too many films come to mind as favorites for different reasons. As someone who likes animated films, family films, action films, documentaries, and “art films,” images from Melies, Eisenstein, Ozu, Keaton, Chaplin, Joris Ivens, Chris Marker, Godard, Ford, Hawkes, Renoir, Brakhage, Michael Snow, and Myazaki flicker to life in just thinking about the question. I’m still going — we better move on to the next question.

His most inspirational food for making an independent film:

Fair-trade dark chocolate. Minimum 72 percent cacao.

Filmmaker Bios

Gene Rosow

During his more than 30 years in the industry, Gene Rosow has written, directed, and produced more than 20 documentaries, including Doctora for England’s Channel 4, Routes of Rhythm with Harry Belafonte for PBS, and Knights for Canal + France. His feature film producing credits include Silent Tongue, Zeus and Roxanne, and Britney Baby One More Time. Apart from filmmaking, Rosow has a PhD in history from the University of California at Berkeley where he also taught. He also spent a year of post-graduate work at the University of Southern California studying ecology, biochemistry, cellular physiology, and parisitology.

Bill Benenson

In more than 30 years of producing and directing, Bill Benenson has made several documentaries, including The Marginal Way, about the fishing and artistic community of Ogunquit, Maine; and Diamond Rivers, a first-person account of diamond prospecting in northeastern Brazil. Both were PBS specials broadcast on New York’s WNET. With Benenson Productions and its predecessor, BBZ Films, Benenson was a development executive, producer or executive producer on several feature films, including Under the Volcano, The Lightship, and A Walk On The Moon. In addition, he was executive producer on Mister Johnson.

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