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Big Ideas 'The American Dream' by Ben Lankester

David Knight - 13th Nov 2020

Ben Lankester returns to music videos with an intense and riveting study of a fiercely committed boxer for Big Ideas.

The band is the new project by Nathan Nicholson and Adam Harrison - of The Boxer Rebellion - and Lankester himself, on board as creative director and responsible for the visual identity of the project. And the video for the debut release The American Dream is a powerful statement of intent, featuring a charismatic performance by the boxer and actor Tom Benett.

With superb cinematography by Carl Burke, Lankester focusses upon the boxer's punishing training regime, his manic drive to be the champion, and the devastating impact it has upon his mental wellbeing. The story is told more as a psychodrama, which puts character and metaphor ahead of typical narrative; and Lankester and Burke draw upon the rich heritage of boxing in film to show a man brought low by his commitment to the American Dream. The end result is a video that punches well above it's weight.


Tom Benett must have thrown a hundred thousand punches for us over a two-day shoot.

"This is the first music video I’ve made in a few years and so it felt good to approach things a little differently. With Big Ideas we’re trying to navigate the ever-changing music industry - and the constantly shifting way film and music is distributed - in a fresh, hopefully innovative way. As a filmmaker, being an official member of the band was a big part of that ambition.

"At first I worked alongside the guys to develop a photographic essay film which would have been set to the entire record and shot across the US over a month-long period, but obviously things changed with COVID so we had to adapt. The first step in this new direction was The American Dream, a video we wanted to turn around fast to make happen in time for the US election.

"I worked alongside my co-writer Sam Widdows to develop the concept of a boxer trapped in his own nightmarish version of contemporary America. The video stars the incredible boxer/actor Tom Benett, who must have thrown a hundred thousand punches for us over a two-day shoot in October. The film is set in a contemporary version of the US, but there were some hidden corners of London that allowed us to recreate our own slice of dystopian Americana. 

"We managed to release the video the week Biden triumphed, so it felt like a double knockout for us."

David Knight - 13th Nov 2020


  • Narrative
  • Alternative
  • Boxing
  • Boxing Ring

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Ben Lankester
Jamie Whymark
Production Company
Production Manager
Heeva Hamed
1st AD
Jonathan Sidwell


Director of Photography
Carl Burke
Focus Puller
Michael Hannides
2nd AC
Asia Rose Kilgallon


Paul Molloy


Art Director
Charlie Hippisley


Hair & Make-up
Margherita Fabbro


Lead actor
Tom Benett


Ben Lankester


Matthieu Toullet
Colour grade company


Post Producer
Edwin Elkington


Absentee Recordings

Other credits

Written By

Ben Lankester & Sam Widdows

Production Assistant

Eloise Saville


Dan Huntley


Al Celis & Jeff Celis


Shannon Thomas

David Knight - 13th Nov 2020

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