‘Starcrossed’ a lesson in filmmaking for local actor

Carmel Valley actor Ben Reed and Chase Mohseni, a graduate of La Jolla Country Day, have collaborated together on the recently released film “Starcrossed.” The movie represents over two years of work for a pair of well-earned firsts: Reed’s first time producing a film in his 25-year career as an actor and 28-year-old Mohseni’s first time as a writer and director of a full-length feature film.

As a producer and actor, Reed helped bring Mohseni’s “rich and darkly romantic” script to life—a story of two lost souls Ben and Cat, both with older lovers, who make a connection over a matter of hours. The film also features Mischa Barton, Grant Harvey, Kristin Carey and Eric Roberts.

“I’m so happy for Chase that he’s getting a great response from his first film written and directed,” Reed said.”I’m very proud of him in a fatherly kind of way.”

Reed has lived in Carmel Valley for 17 years, commuting to Los Angeles for work and returning home for his most important role as husband and father of five.

His work over the years has included appearances on “Seinfeld,” “NCIS,” “CSI” and “House,” as well as playing Thor on the television show “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.” He had a role in the Academy Award-nominated “American Sniper,” playing Bradley Cooper’s character’s father in flashbacks.

Mohseni, who now lives with his wife in Los Angeles, stoked a love for film at a young age, catching dollar films at the Silver Cinema in Rancho Bernardo, which has long since closed and is now a church.

At La Jolla Country Day, he played on the same football team as Reed’s son and got to know the family and his teammate’s actor father.

As his interest in film developed, Mohseni would often share scripts and short films with Reed and when he was in graduate school, he even had him star in one of his short films as a favor.

Mohseni went on to earn his undergraduate degree in screenwriting and a Master of Fine Arts in film production from Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television.

By 2013, he had made five short films but nothing close to the scale of this feature film.

“’Starcrossed’ was the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken. A lot of naivety allowed me to actually do it and think anything is possible,” Mohseni said, who enlisted Reed to fine tune the script and characters and to serve as his producer.

“It was a lot of fun, Ben is very collaborative and creative so it was wonderful to work with him,” Mohseni said.

Getting “Starcrossed” to where it is now has been a long process. The film was shot over 16 days at the end of October 2013. Post-production work began in January 2014 and it premiered at the San Diego Film Festival in September 2014, one of just over 100 movies selected out of 3,000 submissions.

After the festival came more editing and tweaks and a search for distributors.

“You learn a lot about storytelling through the whole process, it made me a much better editor and made me a better writer,” Mohseni said. “I learned not to fight the film. The film tells you what it wants, you work for the film. If you can get past yourself and ego, you can make a really good film. The process has been very humbling but in the best way possible.”

The experience was just as eye-opening for Reed, who was serving as a producer for the first time. He learned a lot about raising financing, putting a team together and taking control of how the whole film looked more than just acting out his part and calling it a day.

“It was a lot of work but it was also the most fun and most stress I’ve had in this business in 25 years. I loved the whole process of production, I loved being in the post-production studio and putting the film together,” Reed said. “Then you’re really making art.”

In June, they celebrated the theatrical release of “Starcrossed” in Los Angeles, as well as the film’s release On Demand and online.

“We knew we would have a short release in LA because of the type of independent film it is so most of our viewership will be On Demand and online,” Reed said. “We’ve had great feedback from iTunes, Amazon and Time Warner, and we’re very happy with how it’s been watched and purchased and reviewed.”

Reed said it will be interesting how the process works now that they have begun international distribution.

Reed now has his own production company, Buckup Productions, and is enjoying being on both sides of making a movie.

He is currently working on the film “Ocassus,” set to begin shooting in Argentina. He is currently filming “The Meanest Man in Texas” and has finished work on “Persephone: Pictures at the End of the World,” in which he plays a preacher leading a group preparing for an asteroid to strike Earth.

Mohseni is working on a few projects currently as a screenwriter. Ideally, he likes to write projects for himself to direct but he says there is a lot to be learned by writing on someone else’s team. He takes everything in this “addicting” process of making movies as a chance to grow.

“It’s exciting to finally have the film out there and see people interacting with the film,” Mohseni said. “I take it all as a learning experience, you have to remove your emotions and learn through the process, take it all in your toolbox as you move forward.”

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