The son of a Baptist inner city minister (father) and a music teacher (mother), Benjamin Meade grew up in Kansas City under extreme adversity. A brain injury at the age of 11 left him unable to speak for nearly two years, forcing him to relearn language skills through cognitive trial and error. At an young age he began immersing himself with music, movies, and readings on contemporary philosophy.
He attended the Music Conservatory in Kansas City studying six years with the piano, guitar, and several woodwind instruments. He and his two brothers formed the musical ensemble “Tuck Point” when he was 15. An Eagle Scout, at the age of 17 he put himself through college by playing in several different rock bands and working at an auto repair shop while pursuing a degree in filmmaking at Central Missouri State University.
After graduating in 1977, he met and worked with Stan Brakhage in Boulder, Colorado for several months learning experimental film technique and aesthetic. Soon after, he was offered an entry level job at Universal Pictures in Los Angeles but soon returned to the mid-west hoping for a film community to develop. Discouraged from lack of employment opportunities in the film industry where he lived, he took a job as a financial services consultant with New England Financial and remained there for nearly three decades.
He became partner of the firm at age 28 while spending time studying interests from chiropractic to law and earned a masters degree in American History, then a Ph D in Film and Theatre from the University of Kansas in 1999. While at Kansas, he again met Stan Brakhage who worked with him in the development of many short experimental films. While presenting a paper in Denmark in 1999, he met Laszlo Tarnay of Pecs, Hungary who invited him to teach there the following year.
While teaching, he met Hungarian Filmmaker Andras Suranyi and made the controversial but touching film Vakvagany (2002) in 2001. He completed Das Bus in 2003, and collaborated with crime novelist James Ellroy on Bazaar Bizarre in 2005 (now re-released by Troma Entertainment). His film American Stag (2006) was an interrogation of early American Pornography. This was followed by the critically acclaimed American Music: Off The Record (2008) featuring Noam Chomsky, Jackson Brown and Douglas Rushkoff along with more than 50 music acts including Les Paul, Ray Price, and Wanda
Jackson. He followed this with The Elders: Alive and Live in Ireland (2008), a rock and roll music epic, then completed Lifelong Roadtrip, a film about the Nace Brothers Band in 2009. He then produced The Kansas City Murder Factory-Act 1 for Mike B. Rollen (2011), In 2012 he released a compilation of his shorts films made with Stan Brakhage and several others without collaboration as well as interviews with his icons Ray Harryhausen, Tom Savini, Stan Brakhage, William S. Burroughs, and Lars Von Trier-to name a few. The title of the compilation is “Mentallusions: Radical Eclectic Films of Benjamin Meade”. In 2012 his book “Experimental Film: The Missing Frames” was published. In 2012 he shot a film in Haiti entitled “Optimistic Chaos”, which chronicles he and singer/songwriter Danny Cox as they experienced the poverty and lawlessness in the Northwest part of the island. It was released in 2013. In 2015 he released Woke Up This Mornin’ in the Arkansas Delta, a gonzo style film that chronicles his travels in the Arkansas Delta from 2009-2014. His work is “experimental documentary”. Meade is founder of Casas Por Cristo, a missions organization that builds homes for the poor in Juarez, Mexico. He resides in Kansas City, Missouri and is a retired Professor of Film and Digital Media at Avila University in Kansas City. He is a fellow at the Society of the Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image in Copenhagen, Denmark, and a professor of film at Janus Pannonius Univrsity at Pecs” Hungary. He is the owner of Cosmic Cowboy Studio in Kansas City, an analogue facility for group, solo, and film soundtrack recording. It is housed with his film company Corticrawl Productions..
The title of the compilation is “Mentallusions: Radical Eclectic Films of Benjamin Meade” The set Includes:
- Image is Virus (with William S. Burroughs)
- Serotonin (double image, with William S. Burroughs))
- Cerf Volant (Kite)
- Dream Nebula (with Mike Adams)
- DEATH OF THE REEL (with Guy Maddin & Lydia Lunch)
- Airplane Crazy
- Privilege (Deborah Wright and Mike Adams)
- The Crucifixtion of Simon Peter
- Que Viva San Miquel de Allende!
- Grieving Venice
- Brakhage: The Final Word (with Bill Pryor & Bob Walkenhorst)
- A Conversation With Ray Harryhausen
- Tom Savini on CGI
- Explaining Antichrist: Lars Von Trier
- The Making if “FOOD INC” with Director Robert Kenner
Short Music Films:
- Bring Our Loved Ones Back-Danny Cox
- Rev It Up-Candy Coburn
- Shattered World-Load Point Pull
- Goin Down Swingin-The Rainmakers
- He then released a film project was shot in Haiti. Entitled “Optimistic Chaos” (2013), it chronicled he and singer/songwriter Danny Cox as they experienced the poverty and lawlessness in the northwest part of the island.
- In the meantime, he published his third book, “EXPERIMENTAL FILM: THE MISSING FRAMES”, and anthology of writings on experimental films from some of the best academics around the world.
- January 1, 2015, Ben will finally release the film “WOKE UP THIS MORNING IN THE ARKANSAS DELTA” four years in the making. It is an interrogation of a state that in many sections operates like a third world country-
- Meade is founder of Casas Por Cristo, a missions organization that builds homes for the poor in Juarez, Mexico. He resides in Kansas City, Missouri and is a retired Professor of Film and Digital Media at Avila University in Kansas City. He is a fellow at the Society of the Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image in Copenhagen, Denmark, and a professor of film at Janus Pannonius Univrsity at Pecs” Hungary.
- He was recently named in the “top 50 of the most progressive cutting edge artists in the United States” in the book “MIDNIGHT MAVERICKS” written by Gene Gregorits who referred to Ben as “The Kansas City Cringe Factor”.
- Ben has one daughter, Kasey, and two granddaughters, Olivia, and Isabelle.