We were dead tired heading into our Ben Lee session. We’d been shooting non-stop since Sydney Festival, sometimes as many as four bands a week, so we were pretty drained. We weren’t going to miss the chance to shoot Ben Lee, but we weren’t very prepared – instead of coming up with a great location, we’d made the easiest plan we could think of: we’d walk through the park next door to Ben’s hotel.
It’s an understatement to say that meeting Ben energised us. He was friendly, funny, and completely without pretension. As we strolled into the park, Ben greeted everyone he met with a friendly hello, and we began to suspect this wasn’t going to be just any shoot.
Then magic happened. Ben suggested a sing-a-long with a group of schoolgirls sitting on the sidelines of a soccer game. After a quick debate about whether we’d get in trouble, we decided to go for it. The girls recognised Ben immediately, and he soon had them doing a call-and-response version of his song Surrender. The girls were thrilled, Ben was having a blast, and we all left smiling.
We’d forgotten our tiredness, and the shoot just kept getting better. As we crossed a muddy field, a few other girls stopped their cricket game and ran over to tell Ben that he was their favourite musician. Ben offered to play them a song, and the girls deliriously offered up three minutes of hilarious improvised dance moves as Ben sang.
There was no stopping him. He was completely spontaneous, open to all possibilities, and his enthusiasm was infectious and put everyone at ease. Ben sang a cover of Sebadoh’s Brand New Love to a dog; charmed a passing woman into letting him sing to her boyfriend over her mobile phone; and gave us a gorgeous version of MGMT’s Kids. It was a real joy seeing how happy his music made people.
Together we managed to capture five songs in 45 minutes – a record! – and we left Ben’s hotel on a total high, with the knowledge that, for an hour, Ben and his music had made the park a nicer place. This is exactly what Shoot the Player is all about.
- Jonathan & Amelia