..Jess Waid..

Circumstance Beyond My Control
A review of Ben Bryant's book, the second in a memoir triology

It was with much interest that I read Circumstances Beyond My Control, which covers from 1972 through 1992 of Ben Bryant's life and career. The story did not disappoint. These are his own words describing the book: "It is filled with bizarre and sometimes hilarious adventures on locations throughout the USA and abroad, it will appeal to anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of film production." Well, I surely concur.

In Circumstances Ben describes the experiences of performing different roles behind the camera, primarily in TV commercials: location scout, studio manager, production manager, freelance producer, cameraman, first assistant director and finally director. Book Two details his adventures in film and also includes some deeply personal and philosophical musings. His conversational writing style combined with firsthand knowledge and a thorough understanding of film production will draw one in so closely that one will feel as if they are standing beside the man as he relives his experiences.

Ben spins his tales of working in various locations from the dark swamps of Louisiana to Wyoming's Grand Tetons, the waterfalls of Jamaica and Montreal concert halls with young actors just starting out and with seasoned pros such as Mel Brooks and Paul Newman. It is Bryant's easy-to-read, informal and colloquial approach to story telling that makes the book truly enjoyable. He readily admits that his reminiscing might not be totally accurate as to date and time, but the scenes are definitely genuine. What's not to like? And of course, there's his continuing love story with Elizabeth Hepburn an actress and singer. More about this lovely lady will be found in Ben's third book: Waiting for Elizabeth.

Were I young and seeking a career in the production business, I would do well to read Ben Bryant's Circumstances Beyond My Control as it gives glimpses of real life behind the scenes of both famous (the surreal Calvin Klein Obsession "Oh, the smell of it!" commercials of the mid-80s directed by Richard Avedon, for example) and little-known productions. This book is like a primer for those just learning the business. However anyone with an interest in rousing stories of a life lived with vigor and dedication will revel in Ben Bryant's well-told saga.

I suggest you take the time to brew a hot cup of joe and then to snuggle up with Ben's books. The story of his life is written in an inimitable style that will warm your heart and soul as it did mine. His informal trip down memory lane will definitely leave readers feeling most satisfied and likely wanting more.

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by Jess Waid, author of the Mike Montego series.

Ben's book is available here.