Ben Murphy (’15) Adds Vol Touch to New ‘Avatar’ Film

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When Avatar: The Way Of Water releases in cinemas December 16 it will have a touch of Rocky Top to it. Ben Murphy (’15), who worked as an assistant editor on the film, got his start at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a Hollywood career. The James Cameron film is the first in a series of sequels to the director’s original Avatar blockbuster.

After graduating from UT, Murphy was awarded an internship with American Cinema Editors, a trade organization that only accepts two interns each year and is a gateway to work in the industry. He earned his spot with knowledge gained at the university from faculty including Dee and Jim Haslam Professor Paul Harrill, an acclaimed director and co-chair of the Cinema Studies program.

Murphy’s first work after the internship was with the Warner Animation Group, where he was an editor for The Lego Batman MovieThe Lego Ninjago Movie, and Smallfoot.
“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be where I am in my career,” he said. “I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the support I had at the University of Tennessee.”

Murphy is originally from Cleveland, Tennessee, and at UT he found people who shared his same passion and an opportunity to push his craft with all of his energy. When he moved to Los Angeles, he had to adjust to an entirely different environment and did so by seeking out people with similar values.

“It’s a little bit crazy to go from a smaller city like Knoxville to one like Los Angeles, but if you can find people who are like-minded and going through similar things that you’re going through, then you can have a community,” he said.

That sense of community is one he learned a great deal about at UT, Murphy added. His mother and brother both attended the university and he went to basketball and football games growing up.

“There was a nice family lineage, and I just love the environment, campus, and community that UT has,” he said.
Murphy on the set of Avatar: The Way Of Water