Bennett Graebner is a producer working in the field of film and television. While he has worked on a wide range of projects, he is perhaps best known for his work as an executive producer on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. A longtime New York resident, he was born in Buffalo, New York and now lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and children.
The producer attended Vassar College for his undergrad where a lifelong love of the arts pushed him to pursue English as his major of study. He went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar before moving on to the University of Southern California for film school. He earned his MFA from USC’s storied school of cinematic arts, long known for its prodigious output of film professionals. While at the school he learned many film and television production fundamentals which he still puts to use to this day.
Two skills which have helped Bennett Graebner in his work in both reality and fictional television has been his strong command of story elements. With a firm belief in the power of structure and dramatic tension, his productions have become recognized for their ability to tell a cohesive narrative. In the producer’s mind, this allows audiences to better connect to the characters in his shows and engage with the story in each episode.
The film and television professional has also worked extensively in a variety of departments throughout his career. This work has included stints as a cinematographer and a grip, two positions that work extensively on set to craft the look of a production. From this work, he has gained a more full understanding of how a crew operates together and what a producer can do to encourage those around him to create the best possible TV show or film.
Do you have a particular source for your idea?
My ideas really come from all over. Newspaper articles are a good source of inspiration. I also love listening to NPR and I get some ideas from those stories. But often time I get my best ideas from the people in my life. Friends and family can be helpful. Also, the people on the shows I produce have really good insights into what to do. They’re the ones on camera and they are often really connected to the spirit of the show.
How do you start your day?
I always wake up with an early-morning run. It’s relaxing, clears my head, and keeps me in shape. You’d think it’d tire you out but it actually gives me energy and on the days where I miss my run I definitely feel lethargic. I’m also a “coffee all day” kind of person, so you better believe I follow the run with copious amounts of caffeine.
Are there any trends you wish you had stayed away from when younger?
Social media. I think it can become kind of unhealthy and I wish I could have told my younger self to tread lightly with all of that stuff.
How do you avoid failure in your work?
I don’t! I think failure is an important part of growing and learning. I honestly fail all the time and I make choices every day that end in minor failures. That’s okay, I just learn from the mistake and move on. If I were to live my life in fear of failure I’d never be able to get anything done. Life is all about learning from failure, not avoiding it.
What’s one purchase you’ve made recently that has improved your life?
I have a new converter for when I’m traveling out of the country. The great thing about it is it doubles as a nightlight so even when I’m in a new hotel room, I don’t stub my toe in the middle of the night when I’m trying to go to the bathroom. Game changer.
What is a firmly-held belief of yours that you think is unique?
Well, there are a lot of people who agree with me on this one but I think telling the truth in all situations is really important. Life’s too short to try and keep a bunch of lies straight in your head. Just tell the truth as much as possible and if you can’t tell the truth just don’t say anything at all.
Any personal rules that you follow for your work?
Don’t be a jerk! I want people around me to work hard because they’re motivated to deliver a great show. There are people in the industry who are just bears to work with and I think the content suffers because of that. It’s really hard to get people to do their best work when they’re motivated by the fear of being fired or angering someone. Fear-based motivation might work for a while, but it’s really not sustainable and it makes everyone miserable.
Is there a book that you always come back to in life?
Yeah, Knausgaard’s “My Struggle” series is so full of life lessons for me. I always try to have a volume on hand to reference when I need some perspective. It’s all about the beauty and finiteness of life, which is so important to keep in mind no matter what you’re doing.
What’s your most useful habit as a successful TV professional?
I’m always thanking others. I think kindness is such an overlooked thing in any field. You’re always surrounded by people who are helping you out, like a driver who gets you somewhere safely or an assistant who grabs you coffee. It’s important to let those people know that you appreciate them and not just assume that they already know. Everyone likes to hear that they’re doing a good job and it makes those around you want to continue to work hard.
Any ideas you’ve been kicking around for a new business that you can share?
Here’s one for any enterprising readers out there — champagne bottles where the cork is tied to the bottle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched corks fly off the bottle when we’re filming and almost hit someone in the eye. If there was a safety tether to keep the cork from flying I bet it’d be really popular.
- Being nice will take you far.
- Good ideas come from every corner of life.
- Truth is powerful.
More about Bennett Graebner at https://www.crunchbase.com/person/bennett-graebner