Ad Pros Were Behind This Fascinating New York Times Documentary About a Man Who Falls in Love With a Monkey

'Long Live Benjamin' Is Airing on New York Times Op-Docs Forum

By Alexandra Jardine. Published on Mar 02, 2017

Editor's Pick

Wieden & Kennedy Creative Director Jimm Lasser and Rock Paper Scissors Editor Biff Butler are the creative forces behind a fascinating new documentary "Long Live Benjamin," which just debuted on the New York Times Op-Docs forum.

The six-part episodic documentary, directed and produced out of Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment, focuses on portrait artist Allen Hirsch who, while visiting his wife's homeland of Venezuela, unexpectedly falls in love. The object of his affection is a deathly ill, orphaned newborn Capuchin monkey named Benjamin. Nursing Benjamin back to health and sneaking him into New York City, Allen finds his life forever changed by the monkey.

The collaboration between Lasser and Butler has been a long time in the making, first forged in advertising while the pair worked on campaigns for Chrysler. One day, Lasser was delayed arriving for an edit session with Butler by the funeral for his cousin's monkey, Benjamin. After explaining the unusual circumstances, he asked if Rock Paper Scissors could help transfer material he'd shot onto a hard drive. A copy of the media was left on Butler's computer, and during a cross-country flight, Butler began exploring -- and then editing -- the footage. Over the next five years, Lasser and Butler carved out time around their work schedules to collaborate on the film.

Lasser's ad work includes the Clint Eastwood-directed Chrysler Super Bowl spot "Imported From Detroit," Jordan Brand's "Re2pect" with Derek Jeter, and Nike's "Unlimited Together." Butler has worked as a director and editor on spots for BMW, Lexus, Coca-Cola and Nike, and also on the Jordan spot with Jeter.

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Mar 02, 2017
Jimm Lasser & Biff Butler
Biff Butler
Jimm Lasser

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