Morristown filmmaker Ben Donnellon starts drive to shoot ‘friendly paranoia’ here

Ben Donnellon
Ben Donnellon

If you want to make a movie, you can pitch and pray.

Maybe a studio will take a chance on you. Who knows?  Or maybe you will win the next Powerball lottery and underwrite the production yourself.

Morristown filmmaker Ben Donnellon has another idea: Go straight to the audience.

Ben is soliciting $8,000 in donations via to produce The Reiss Disorder, a dark comedy he plans to film in town.

It’s a full-length feature about a high school math teacher infected with a strange mental disorder that makes victims think their actions are being recorded by an invisible device.

“Everyone who is infected starts interacting with the device. The film explores how each person reacts differently to it…it’s sort of a friendly paranoia,” explained Ben, a 27-year-old Morristown High School alumnus whose schoolboy résumé included hosting a WJSV radio show, announcing Colonials basketball games and directing football coverage.

By then, he already had made elementary school sequels to Forrest Gump and Ghostbusters.

At Ithaca College, Ben studied cinematic photography. He served as production coordinator on last year’s Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead and as director’s assistant on the 2007 documentary Crazy Love, the bizarre tale of a man who hired someone to disfigure a woman with acid…and then married the woman.

With friends in Brooklyn, Ben helped create a wickedly funny web series, Krazdale (kiddie alert: adult themes!).

Ben Donnellon
Ben Donnellon

One of his music videos of the Blaire Reinhard Band was featured at the second Film Festival.

Ben also has traveled to Israel, Cuba, Morocco, Poland, Ukraine and the Czech Republic to edit video projects for nonprofits.

He has spent much of the last year documenting Morristown High’s Classics Academy, an experiment that immersed seniors in studies of Antiquity.

Although Ben enjoys documentaries, narrative fiction is his passion. He counts Jean-Luc Godard (director, Breathless), Charlie Kaufman (writer, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Christopher Nolan (director, The Dark Knight, Memento) among his influences.

To follow in their footsteps, he must raise $8,000 by Aug. 31.

(Kickstarter projects are all-or-nothing ventures; local artists Danielle and Chris Merzatta are using Kickstarter to finance an Open Drawing Studio that begins on Aug. 3 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown.)

Donations to The Reiss Disorder will pay for equipment rentals, props and costumes, and stipends and food for a small band of actors and crew members that could include you.

“I want it to be local, and gritty,” Ben said, “and to work with actors without much experience, and with crew members who want to learn.”


Ben Donnellon shooting documentary at his alma mater, Morristown High School. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Ben Donnellon shooting documentary at his alma mater, Morristown High School. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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