Q&A with CEO of Film Festival Flix, Benjamin Oberman
Benjamin Oberman, CEO
Benjamin Oberman is the Founder, President & CEO of Film Festival Flix, a streaming platform connecting quality films, the festivals that champion them, and the audiences who love them through the curated virtual festival experience. WIth more than twenty-five years experience in the Entertainment Industry, he has expert knowledge in digital platforms, streaming technology, film distribution, festival and event production, and marketing. Prior to his work in the film and television industry, Benjamin was on stage in more than a thousand live performances following a career as a world-class competitive figure skater and member of the US Figure Skating Team.
Q. If you are in recovery, what was your Drug of Choice and when did you discontinue its use? A. I’m not in recovery. Drugs were never my thing and alcohol is / was something I can take or leave. I spent much of my life as an athlete and got / get my high from sports, adventure, and business. So I guess that exercise is my drug of choice.
Q. At which of the schools you attended did you learn the most? A. My formal education took place in High School (Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, CO). I then trained full time at the Ice Castle Training Center in Lake Arrowhead, CA where I became a member of the US Figure Skating Team. However, I learned the most from life experience, reading books, and seeking great mentors.
Q. Do you believe leaders are made or born? A. I believe leaders are made. We have all strengths and weaknesses, but with desire, persistence, and perseverance we can develop our strengths and overcome our weaknesses. I’ve had the privilege to work with many people who overcame physical, mental, emotional, socio-economic, societal, and race dis-abilities to become world class athletes, business leaders, community leaders, and thought leaders. Anything is possible if you’re willing to work hard enough, long enough.
Q. Which film have you watched the most? A. Probably “Cars”, “How to Train Your Dragon”, or “Aquaman”. If you have kids, you’ll understand … They watch movies 26 times and insist I watch with them.
Q. Who is your favorite celebrity in recovery? A. Robert Downey Jr.
Q. If you ever retire, would you prefer to live by the ocean, lake, river, or mountaintop, or penthouse? A. On a mountain lake, surrounded by spectacular mountains to explore. If I’m lucky, there will be a great river flowing into and out of the lake.
Q. What is your favorite hotel or resort? A. Petit Ermitage Hotel in West Hollywood. It has tons of personality and few people know of its existance.
Q. Where do you go to “get away”? A. Mammoth Lakes, CA and the surrounding mountains.
Q. What is your biggest or littlest pet peeve? A. A big one would be … When people don’t proof-read their email before sending and get the recipient’s name wrong. It’s so simple but the mistake has a huge impact. (And yes, I’ve been guilty of my own pet peeve.)
Q. How do you measure success? A. Success is when I believe I have mastered the subject and realized the goal of the mission. This is independent of financial success.
Q. If you had an extra million dollars, which charity would you donate it to? A. I would donate to multiple charities. Some that I’m passionate about include: National Park Foundation, Nature Bridge, Big City Mountaineers, Union Rescue Mission, and Camp del Corazon.
Q. Who was your biggest influence throughout your life? A. My family.
Q. What is your current hobby? A. When not focusing on Film Festival Flix and my family (which takes up the majority of my time) my hobbies include hiking, mountain biking, skiing, rock climbing, kayaking, hang-gliding, grilling / smoking (meat), playing online poker, playing chess, and (fun) home improvement projects.
Q. What prominent fe/male figure would you most like to date? A. Dr. Melina Jampolis (she’s now my wife of 10 years)
Q. If you were giving a dinner party for your 3 favorite authors, Living or dead, who would they be? (choose 4 if you think one might be too drunk or stoned to attend.) A. Jim Collins, Malcolm Gladwell, David Baldacci, and Brad Thor.
Q. What is your FAVORITE Radio show, news show, podcast? A. I love listening to the podcast, “How I Built This” when driving between LA and Mammoth.
Q. What is your FAVORITE APP? A. It’s a toss-up in my life between Amazon and Maps. Both get me what I need and where I need to be.
Q. What is your FAVORITE TV/cable/digital series? A. “Arrow”. It’s a total soap opera with great action scenes, but I love it. #guiltypleasure
Q. Who is your FAVORITE Director? A. Clint Eastwood. If his name is on it, I know it will be great.
Q. What is your FAVORITE Museum? A. Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena
Q. What is your FAVORITE Band/composer/musical artist? A. John Denver – His songs are timeless and always put a smile on my face.
Q. What is your FAVORITE Broadway musical/play? A. Les Miserables
Q. Who is your FAVORITE Psychologist or what school of thought as related to psychology? A. Time-limited Dynamic Psychotherapy – If you’re really ready to change, then do it! We all have the power to choose.
Q. What is your FAVORITE Sport to watch? To play? A. I’ll watch the finals of anything. (Superbowl, World Series, NBA Finals, etc.) but I’m a passionate spectator of almost every sport during the Olympics. As for sports I like doing… hiking, mountain biking, skiing, rock climbing, kayaking, and hang-gliding. In my former life / career, I was a member of the US Figure Skating Team and a professional figure skater.
Q. What is your FAVORITE Snack? A. Elk Summer Sausage from Pearson Ranch (I order a ton each year for hiking and BBQ’s)
Q. What is your FAVORITE Cuisine? A. Sushi
Q. What is your FAVORITE Restaurant? A. Sushi Don (in Studio City, CA) – based upon the number of times I’ve eaten there vs. other restaurants.
Q. What is your FAVORITE City? A. Los Angeles. I live here because it offers everything! Culture, business, dining, entertainment, beaches, deserts, mountains, and great weather.
Q. Have you ever been arrested and, if so, what for? A. Yes. When I was 18, I was trying to purchase alcohol with a fake ID. I was dumb enough to try this at the liquor store across the street from my high school.
Q. Do you have any children? A. Yes. Two boys. 6 years old and 10 years old.
Q. Do you think the U.S. should adopt the Portuguese Decriminalization Model? A. I don’t think this is a simple issue. If you’re only hurting yourself, it’s a medical issue. When you harm others or break the laws to fund your addiction it’s a criminal issue. I believe we still need to accept accountability for our actions, whether we were in control of ourselves at the time the offense was committed or not.
Q. What books are you reading now? A. Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business
Q. Do you take work home with you? A. Yes. My work and life are completely intertwined. Finding the balance is challenging, but essential.
Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given? A. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control because you can’t control them. And don’t worry about the things you can control because you can control them.
Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve given? A. Be passionate, authentic, and persistent.
Q. Do you think addiction is an illness, a disease, a choice, or a wicked twist of fate? A. I think it can be all of the above depending on the person. My body and mind reject the thought of drugs, so there must be people that are the opposite. I know people who got in with the wrong crowd at a vulnerable time in their lives and others that needed an escape from a horrible life. I think to feel good (or avoid feeling bad) is naturally addictive. Thus, it is a choice, but for some people, that choice and the discipline to stick with it, is excruciatingly difficult.
Q. What are five things you always carry with you? A. Wallet, Phone, Glasses, Keys, and my brain. (The fifth is there to solve issues related to forgetting one of the first four).
Q. What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken? A. When I was 18, I did a 180’ bungee jump from a crane over a gravel parking lot (no air bag). It was a brand new sport and nobody had died, yet. As I jumped, I was convinced I’d just thrown my life away. Despite the many adventure sports I pursue, I hate the adrenaline rush.
Q. What is your biggest mistake? A. As an athlete, I believed in my coach above myself and my partner. Looking back, I later could see that his beliefs and guidance were self-serving and he had a pattern of sabotaging his students (mostly from his own self-loathing).
Q. What is the proudest moment in your life? A. There have been many proud moments in my life: Standing on the podium multiple times at the US Figure Skating Championships; performing in the 2002 Olympic Games and at Radio City Music Hall in NYC; climbing the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park; climbing and skiing Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states; and each time a business client succeeds as a result of the work and expertise I provide. But I feel most proud when I see my kids achieve something big for them in school, athletics, musical performance, and life. I believe my proudest moment is yet to come.
Q. Is there a favorite “Quote” you would like to share? A. “It’s important to be independent of the good opinion of others.” – Wayne Dyer
Q. What is your favorite Weekly News Bulletin? A. This one.