Working with co-conspirator Scott Granville — with whom he founded production company Chasing Time in 2008 — Ben Woollen has directed feature film Pictures of You and collaborated on many short films, including award-winning comedy Serve and Protect and 42 minute romance They No Longer Sleep Alone. In 2017 the focus of the company shifted to making productions specifically for teachers and students of the English language. Outside of his work with Granville, Woollen works as a cinematographer under the banner of the Newtown Video Company. In 2015 he shot road movie Penny Black and short film Lapwing.
[Ben Woollen] said New Zealand has a lot of benefits and drawbacks to independent filmmaking, because it has more creative people in a smaller area but fewer platforms. Writer Chelsea Armitage, in a Waikato Times article on short film Serve and Protect, 11 August 2014
Made to tie in with director Joe Hitchcock’s feature debut Penny Black, Lapwing is a quirky homage to the camp superheroes of yesteryear, with costumes and a villain that would make Adam West's Batman feel right at home. When Lapwing (Sash Nixon) takes on the evil Dr Curem and finds himself outmatched, he needs the help of the aerially talented Mousegirl to conquer. Full of more mixed metaphors than you can shake to the brim, plus plenty of intentionally lo-fi special effects, the comic short features two heroes saving the day by biting the hand they're dealt.
Billed as "an unusual mix of realism and absurdity", Penny Black follows a materialistic supermodel (Astra McLaren) who is forced to become guardian to her superhero-obsessed sister. When the two set out from Auckland for Wellington so Penny Black can try to win back her modelling contract, they meet an anarchist who offers them a whole new angle on what really matters. Partly crowdfunded, partly improvised on location across the North Island, the chalk and cheese tale marked the big screen debut of Joe Hitchcock, who based it partly on road trips he'd taken as a teen.
Strange things are going down at the Bailey farm in this deadpan short film. A pile of mysterious crates requires some serious detective work: small-town cop Darryl Kitchen (Roy Snow from Go Girls), ably assisted by best mate Brian and a stash of sandwiches, is up for the challenge. Officer Kitchen's dedication to getting his catch includes a chase that could be used in police recruit videos. Serve and Protect won audience choice awards at both New Zealand's Show Me Shorts Film Festival, and Nevada's High Desert fest — among the 16 festivals it was invited to around the world.