FSU Alumni Association

Ben Treichel (M.F.A. ’14)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


In the town of Webster, Wisconsin, Ben Treichel is teaching a lesson he learned at FSU: Individuals can achieve many goals through teamwork.


Treichel is the expressive arts instructor at Northwest Passage, a residential care center for adolescent boys who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioral disorders. Most are 13-17 years old. Treichel works with roughly a dozen residents in groups of four by taking them through introductory aspects of filmmaking.


After graduating from the Film School at FSU, Treichel returned to Webster – his hometown – and asked the people at Northwest Passage if they would be interested in having a film program. The answer was yes, and Treichel started the program in fall 2014. While residents have the opportunity to learn about filmmaking individually, the kids with more film experience also get a chance to do some teaching. “That empowers them,” Treichel says. Part of his goal is to show them the value of a process that takes time and has multiple steps, as opposed to a pursuit of instant gratification. The end product for the kids is a film premiere night where they get to display their efforts. 


Five years ago, Northwest Passage also started an underwater photography program. Having access to lakes in rural Wisconsin gives both adults and kids the chance to have what Treichel terms “a cool experience.”


Student-teacher collaboration and the value of receiving input from your peers are two things Treichel took from Tallahassee. “Film school at FSU was such a team-oriented collaboration,” Treichel says. “You get to learn every skill set. Then you can teach a kid film from inception to completion.” Kids also find out there is much more to filmmaking than the actors on camera. “It takes an army to make a movie,” Treichel says. “We barely scratch the surface. Some kids find out they are good at writing, editing or music.”