From Jane Campus to Tinseltown
Stefano (left) and Fabrizio (right) on set with actor Andy Garcia.
Fabrizio and Stefano Beninati have gone from shop floor to movie set.
As students studying in Seneca’s Mechanical Engineering Technician (Tool Design) program at Jane Campus, the twin brothers were always confident they would be in high demand when they graduated. But they never imagined their machining skills would lead them to the entertainment business.
On a daily basis Fabrizio and Stefano use their Seneca training to design and machine devices used in elaborate special effects scenes for film and television productions.
“This is probably the best job in the world,” Fabrizio says. “To be completely honest, we had no idea that this type of opportunity existed for people with our skill sets.”
When Fabrizio and Stefano enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering Technician (Tool Design) program their goal was to work in the manufacturing industry, and for almost a year everything was going according to plan.
The brothers went to work as machinists in a shop in Toronto where they were applying everything that was taught to them at the Centre for Advanced Technologies. Their fellow workers were in awe of their ability to operate the shop’s tools, which included CNC (computer numerical control) machines and equipment.
Despite the work they were doing, the shop started to slow down and Fabrizio and Stefano were let go. Out of work, the brothers were getting ready to look at other industrial and manufacturing related positions when they followed up on a lead to contact Max FX, a production company that was eager to hire skilled general machinists. A simple prospect e-mail turned into a meeting and then job offers to join the company as special effects technicians.
For more than a year, Fabrizio and Stefano have been working on the sets of various television and film projects. Some of the items they have designed and built include a 60 foot ramp to launch a car and a shaking mechanism that was installed in a house to simulate an earthquake.
“We apply so much of what we learned at Seneca on these projects,” Fabrizio says. “We work with conventional machines such as mills and lathes to make parts and to fix gear, but we also use the design and manufacturing principles we learned to create our custom projects on set.”
Fabrizio and Stefano say one of the benefits of their work is meeting all the actors they have grown up watching on film and television. Most recently, they found themselves in the Dominican Republic where they were on a set with actors Andy Garcia, Forest Whitaker and Eva longoria.
Although they have gone Hollywood, the brothers say show business is truly hard work — at least in their case.
“The most challenging part of the job is the hours,” Fabrizio says. “There are some days where you can work up to 24 hours straight with little to no sleep in between, but it’s all worth it.”
To learn more about the Mechanical Engineering Technician (Tool Design) program, visit senecacollege.ca/fulltime/MATD.html