I'm usually a little apprehensive about personal demo reels, since a lot of what I work on is so collaborative. It's always strange taking full credit for something that a team of awesome and talented people helped put together. But alas, when Adam Vadnais tells you that if you're on the hunt for work, you need a reel - - dagnabbit, you listen. So, if you'd like a quick primer on the diverse work that I've had the privilege of completing in about three minutes, get ready because you're in luck!
Now available wherever fine books are sold, the Ghostbusters: Ectomobile - Owner's Workshop Manual! This book goes far beyond just telling you tire pressure and oil change schedule. Learn how to properly operate a standard-issue Ghost Trap. Be kind to your fellow co-workers and finish the Containment Unit procedures to the final step. Learn how and why a Proton Pack uses ions to exhausted and ensnare the supernatural. All that plus do's and don'ts for uniforms and a whole lot more! No Ghostbuster should ever leave home without this handy reference guide - available for purchase on Amazon, at your local Barnes & Noble, the famous Ray's Occult in Manhattan, or wherever fine purveyors of supernatural manuscripts are sold!
For more information, visit the book's page here on SPT by clicking this link!
Available now at your local comic shop, Barnes and Noble, or online via Amazon - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Four Declassified! Dive into the world of Ghost Rider, LMDs, and the mysterious and backwards Framework is this must-own collectable hardcover. Within the pages, get episode synopses, analysis from the cast, creators and writers of the show, behind the scenes tidbits and documentation, photos, artwork, and a whole lot more! As always, this book was an absolute joy to write from start to finish. For more information head to the book specific page here on the site!
Coming in October: The Ghostbusters Ectomobile Owner's Workshop Manual and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Four Declassified
It's a busy October for Troy Benjamin-penned book releases! Coming up in a little more than a month, Ghostbusters and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans can look forward to two new exhaustive volumes to read on those crisp fall evenings with the Ghostbusters Ectomobile Owner's Workshop Manual and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Four Declassified.
Go under the hood of the Ghostbusters’ iconic car and discover the secrets of the team’s ghoul-trapping gadgets with this comprehensive users manual for Ecto-1 and the equipment it carries.
Discover the secrets of the Ghostbusters’ iconic specter-smashing automobile, Ecto-1, with this comprehensive owner’s workshop manual. Along with a detailed breakdown of Ecto-1’s capabilities and exclusive cutaway images that show the car’s souped-up engine and onboard ghost-tracking equipment, the book also focuses on the Ghostbusters’ portable tools of the trade, including proton packs, ghost traps, and PKE meters. The book also looks at various models of Ecto-1, including the Ecto-1A from Ghostbusters II and the version of Ecto-1 seen in 2016’s Ghostbusters: Answer the Call. Featuring commentary from familiar characters, including Ray Stantz, Peter Venkman, and Jillian Holtzmann, Ghostbusters: Ectomobile: Owner’s Workshop Manual is the ultimate guide to the Ghostbusters’ legendary vehicles and the ghost-catching equipment the cars haul from one job to the next.
New top-secret details on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Four await in this keepsake volume! While ex-agent Daisy Johnson tracks down threats to her fellow Inhumans, former S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Phil Coulson is tracking her - and new player Ghost Rider is hot on both their trails. And the intrigue only heats up: With Life Model Decoys infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D.'s ranks, who can Coulson trust? The world of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to evolve, hurtling toward an astonishing Season Four conclusion that will leave our team's lives barely recognizable. This incredible new volume showcases never-before-seen photography, production-design details and exclusive behind-the-scenes information and interviews with cast and crew. The events of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fourth season will rock the characters you know and love to their core. Don't miss a single detail!
2017 is shaping out to be pretty darn hectic. I'll attempt to do my best at keeping shameless self-promotion to a tolerable minimum. But this week's a big one.
The first collected volume of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Guidebook is out today. Additionally, a feature film I co-produced called Citizen Jane: Battle for the City hits theaters and on-demand this Friday. Talk about two different projects releasing in the same week... but hold onto that thought, we'll come back to that. They might be more connected than you think.
Let's start with the Marvel Cinematic Universe Guidebook. My part in the book was small, but I was honored to be a contributor to the original monthly releases and can't wait to have this 192-page collection sitting on the shelf. The first hardcover volume collects the encyclopedic entries for the original Iron Man film through Thor: The Dark World. The famed OHOTMU (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe) team was incredibly gracious and kind to let this newbie tag along, and I learned so much working with them. I can't recommend this book enough to both die-hard and casual fans alike. It'll be available starting today in local brick and mortar stores, Barnes and Noble (and on Nook!), and of course via Amazon (and on Kindle!). Volume 2 won't be far behind, with a December 2017 release date and pre-orders already available.
Next up, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City. About two years ago, I jumped onto good friend Corey Reeser's staff at Altimeter Films to help he and Matt Tyrnauer wrap up several projects. The first feature film release of those projects is Citizen Jane. This is a documentary that focuses on urban planning and a question of how a city should grow and function. It explores that question through the two very different viewpoints of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. It's a fascinating subject and the film gives a great primer to the uninitiated (like me). I've been proud to be a part of the post-production process. It was incredibly challenging to see the film through finishing, mix and delivery, and I've also been part of the social media team. A theatrical run starts April 21st, and the film is also available via on-demand through IFC Films. For more information, check out the Altimeter Films website here.
You might be thinking, "Troy, that's very cool but why are you lumping these two things into one post?" The answer could be chalked up to sheer laziness. Or the fact I'm on a deadline and pressed for spare time. But check this out - - I'm about to blow your mind. Granted, I've since learned that I'm not the only one who has noticed this connection. But just the same, I'll explore it. Ready?
I bet I can connect our documentary film about Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses' battle over city planning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In the first season of the Netflix Daredevil series, Wilson Fisk (played by Vincent D'Onofrio) looks to rebuild the neighborhood he loves in the image of his choosing. Hell's Kitchen, where he grew up, has been overtaken by crime, slums, and affordable housing. Which makes it a desirable locale for two lawyers on their own who do a lot of work pro-bono for those in need like Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson. But Fisk would love for the grime to be torn down and replaced by shiny and more modern, high-income yielding property. Fisk believes what he's doing to be just, even though his methods and underground connections are highly questionable.
In one of the most terrifying moments of the first season, Fisk breaks into the home of reporter Ben Urich. He attempts to explain himself to Urich, pleading that he's not the bad guy. He just wants what's best for the city that he loves. As he sits ominously in the darkness, the production has very explicitly chosen to highlight a crucial part of set decoration over his shoulder: the seminal biography on Robert Moses, The Power Broker. The speech he gives to Urich could be right out of Moses' own testimonial found within the pages of the biography.
Sure enough, if you watch our documentary Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, Robert Moses believes what he's doing to be right. That there's a cancer in his city. He wants to tear it out so that the city can heal. And, one would imagine, to prosper financially. Though the comparison stops about there, there is one further piece to the connection here:
In Citizen Jane: Battle for the City - Robert Moses is voiced by none other than the great Vincent D'Onofrio himself.
For a much more thorough examination, the New Republic wrote a great article at the time of the production that I've since discovered. The author also goes so far as to compare Jane Jacobs to Daredevil. I won't cover that ground, as it might retread on my prior examination that Jane Jacobs is a bit like RoboCop. The New Republic article is a fascinating read that I highly recommend, especially after you view the new documentary as a primer.
So there you have it. Two seemingly unrelated thoughts melded into one. What's next to shamelessly plug? In September, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans will be able to get their hands on the fourth installment of the Declassified series. October is going to see the release of a fun book that I can't quite talk about yet (but is up for pre-order for those with fine-tuned investigative skills). And December, as mentioned will be the second hardcover collection of the GMCU!
And in 2018, I'll attempt to hibernate to recover.
With great thanks to Lauren at The Marvel Report, I recently engaged in a fun conversation about the process behind writing the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Declassified books, specifically Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Three Declassified (on shelves and in stores now, go buy it - it's fun)!
Here's a small sample of the interview along with a link to check out the full article!
Walk us through your writing process: are you on set during filming? Do you have to wait to see what happens when the episodes air? Do you get to visit the set and conduct interviews during filming season?
Step one: procrastinate. Step two: panic. Just kidding to my amazing editors Jeff and Sarah, I promise I’m working hard! The first step is getting the scripts and reading them over with a fine-tooth comb, then looking at the schedule and seeing when key moments or set pieces are being filmed. Then I’ll go on set and observe as much as I can. I like to be a fly on the wall and just see how things are done, while also taking notes as I discover things happening. I’ll be writing both the episode synopses and the behind the scenes entries as we go and occasionally getting some one on one interviews to capture some thoughts in the moment. Because of the nature of filmmaking, things change and are constantly fluid so I definitely watch the network aired episodes multiple times and make changes as necessary. Depending on the schedule of everyone involved, I like to do several waves of interviews so that I get thoughts in the moment, then with a little bit of distance, then at the end of the season looking back on everything as a whole.
Give the full article a read at The Marvel Report here!
Now available at online booksellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, local comic shops, or wherever fine publications are sold - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Three Declassified by Troy Benjamin! This 248 page hardcover continues the tradition of providing an excellent resource to fans of the series and the Marvel Cinematic Universe by giving you a full and detailed episode guide along with analysis from the writers, producers, and cast of the show, as well as looks behind the scenes on the stunts, visual effects, costumes, props, even the sounds required on a weekly basis for ABC's hit series!
Among the features of this season's book:
- A foreword penned by Daisy Johnson herself, Chloe Bennet talking about her experiences on the show.
- "The Sound of S.H.I.E.L.D." a top to bottom look behind how sound factors into each and every episode of the series, from what is recorded during production (and what is not) to what is added later in post-production. What does Daisy's "Quake" ability sound like? Do they smash a lot of car windows to get that sound? Find out in the book!
- A changed Director Coulson, Clark Gregg on love found and love lost - and what the tragedy he experiences in Season Three does to forever change his character.
- A look back on the evolution of Grant Ward into Hive, including conceptual artwork and commentary from the show runners and Brett Dalton himself!
- L.O.V.E. on S.H.I.E.L.D. - just why are relationships so difficult in the modern spy workplace? And how and why was this the right time for two "cursed" lovers to come together in the series? Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker give you their thoughts in this year's book!
As always, these behind the scenes tomes are such a joy to write - hopefully you'll enjoy reading this season's book as much as I enjoyed writing it!
About this time last year, I had the incredible experience of writing my first behind the scenes book for the amazing television show Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its first season. I consider myself so thankful and lucky that they asked me back to write a follow-up for the second season, and didn't want to let them down (nor fans of the first) by not making the second book bigger and better than the last.
Once again, there's so many people to thank that helped me out, dedicating their time and providing assets and amazing conversations that make the book what they are. And the problem is that once you start naming names, you inevitably always leave someone incredibly crucial out. So a very heartfelt thank you to anyone and everyone at Marvel, in front of and behind the camera on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and to all those that have supported both books.
Thanks to everyone that contributed, there isn't a doubt in my mind that Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Two Declassified is a definitive look behind the scenes of the show's second season: episode synopsis and analysis, behind the scenes anecdotes and details, artwork, storyboards, visual effects breakdowns, and incredible photography from some of the best unit photographers in the business. Even if you aren't a fan of the show (which you should be, but it's okay, I'll forgive you) hopefully the book is a great look into what it takes to create such an elaborate show on a week-to-week basis.
Once again, I kind of felt like Young William from Almost Famous - I was the uncool kid getting to hang with the super-cool rock stars and getting to tell their story. But where William's mandate was just to "make the band look cool," I didn't have to work too hard in order to convey the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s coolness.
You can order the book here through Amazon, head to your local bookstore like Barnes and Noble or comic shop and purchase it, or buy it from that creepy guy with the gym bag that always offers you watches and "new movies." Wait, on second thought - scratch that, don't buy it from that last guy, it'll probably have the Declassified cover but be a bunch of takeout menus inside or something.
You might notice it's been a little quiet on the SPT front, despite the fact that there's so much that I am dying to write about: Star Wars Celebration, Daredevil, Avengers: Age of Ultron, I've been right in the thick of so many cool pop culture things that should be getting some ink on Still Playing with Toys but alas have not.
Interestingly enough, Joss Whedon quit Twitter this week and despite reports to the contrary, he insists that it's because he's about to dive back into writing his own material and is trying to avoid the distraction of the 140 character-based world. I can relate. I mean, not to attempt to compare myself to Joss Whedon (c'mon, that's ridiculous, that's like drawing a stick figure on college-ruled paper and saying, "Look, I'm Alex Ross!") but I've been on several deadlines over the course of April and sadly there hasn't been room for much more than those. I haven't browsed the social networks all that much lately, and sadly have neglected ol' Bessie here.
The good news is that I'm coming up for air in May and will have much more time to write so get ready to be bombarded with more SPT news and updates than you can shake a stick at. Starting with a detailed etymology of where the phrase "shake a stick at" came from. Because I certainly haven't shaken any sticks at things. But Joss Whedon probably has, that guy has done everything.
In 1989, as an eight-year old Troy emerged from a movie theater in Vail, Colorado after having seen Back to the Future: Part II with his parents, visions of 2015 swam through his head as the idyllic future. Hoverboards, flying cars, a Pizza Hut dehydrator that would make him pizza in mere seconds. That young version of me was more pre-occupied with the gadgets and futurist technology that would be available to me all those years later than where I would end up.
But now, reflecting on the movie as I sit here a little over 24 hours into the real 2015, I find myself identifying more with Marty McFly at the end of the first film. In the final moments of the first Back to the Future film, Marty has saved the day and changed his present: his father is now an accomplished author, his brand new truck is all waxed up and ready to go, and life seems great. Until Doc Brown crashes in on the party and tells him its imperative that Marty and Jennifer accompany him to 2015. "It's your kids, something has to be done about your kids," he tells the couple. He's not concerned about all the cool stuff that he can have in 2015, he's concerned about what he would become.
We have a lot of incredibly cool gadgets in 2015: iPhones, streaming internet movies, a seventh Star Wars movie (instead of a 19th Jaws), and I can at least order my pizza from several of the gadgets even if it isn't quite as sexy as rehydrating one from a Black & Decker oven. But there's no possible way that eight-year old me could have predicted where I would be twenty-six years later. Married, writing, and most definitely not hoverboarding for fun as I originally romantically visualized.
My life is a lot different than the eight-year old me thought it would be like thanks to Back to the Future: Part II, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I have a feeling 2015 is going to be a good year, and that it's going to bring about a lot of good changes too.
Funny enough, 2015 also marks the 10th anniversary of Still Playing with Toys. So expect some stuff on the horizon concerning that as well. Hard to believe that it was ten years ago that I was sitting in my then girlfriend's dorm room struck with the idea for the "company." Thanks for being here for those ten years, and hope you'll join me for what's to come this year and in the future.