BEN CRANE teaches classes, workshops and seminars in the areas of documentary, critical thinking, propaganda, and mass communication. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in communication arts and journalism, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan.
Prof. Crane has been honored by Ithaca College for excellence in teaching, and was selected Professor of the Year in 2007. He is the co-founder of the Journalism program at Ithaca College, and co-founder of our new Documentary Studies and Production degree.
Before entering the field of communication, Dr. Crane worked as a mathematician, engineer, programmer, writer, and editor in scientific research settings that included the US space program (where he had a small role in NASA’s Apollo 11 – so don’t bother telling him that the moon landing was a hoax), a US Air Force think tank (where he helped to develop technology used today by spy satellites), and a software corporation (which pioneered email and spreadsheets in the early days of computing).
In graduate school, Crane resumed a long-standing interest in mass media, and began writing, producing, and directing plays and documentaries, particularly for radio. These efforts continued at Ithaca College, where he won a series of national prizes, including the Gabriel Award and the Major Armstrong Award.
Dr. Crane won the national Emmy Award for his documentary, School Prayer, one of the first on the subject of church and state separation in the United States. Carried by the PBS network and seen by more than ten million viewers, the film earned numerous honors and was selected by ITVS as one of the best independent documentaries in a decade. The film has been screened at Lincoln Center, the Museum of Modern Art, the Kennedy Center, and in venues around the world.
In collaboration with alumni from his documentary workshop course, Prof. Crane has co-produced, executive-produced, and worked as consulting producer on a series of successful documentary films, including:
- $50K in Five Days (a cinéma vérité portrait of professional online poker players; winner of a Golden Ace Award, 2011 Las Vegas Film Festival);
- Good Fortune (a documentary feature about misguided humanitarian aid to Africans; winner of the Witness Award at the 2009 AFI SilverDocs International Film Festival, also screened at Lincoln Center; PBS national broadcast, 2010; winner of the national Emmy Award, 2011);
- Team Eckbo (an inside view of a national tour by Norway’s four top comedians; aired on Norwegian national television, 2008);
- Strongest Ever (the story of the world’s strongest woman; a grand prize winner of the 2007 Rhode Island International Film Festival, and currently in worldwide distribution);
- Walking the Line (an investigation of the chaos along the US-Mexico border; an official selection of 26 film festivals in 2005-2006);
- Mad Cow Crusaders (a documentary about the dangers of mad cow disease and the struggle to inform the US public; winner of the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, 2005).