We had the good fortune of connecting with Ben Hilzer and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ben, how do you think about risk?
After high school I had no idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I blindly chose to major in accounting and corporate finance because I knew it was safe and practical – especially compared to my hobbies of acting and singing.

I graduated college cum laude from business school, earned my CPA, and worked in public accounting for 8 years while simultaneously acting in commercials, feature films, theatre productions, sketch comedy, improv, concerts…you name it. I always knew all along that working in finance wasn’t going to be permanent. My heart just wasn’t in it – but I was really scared to leave the stability. During COVID, like a lot of people, life was put into perspective that our time here is very finite. I made the scary decision to leave full-time accounting work and pursue acting full-time. To supplement, I started a videography company with my best friend where we shoot corporate videos and cinematic films. This decision was very scary – you don’t quite understand the comforts and security having a salaried job gives you until you give it up. Consistent paychecks, health insurance, savings…all things that vanished. However, my time in the corporate world provided me so many lessons while pursuing my passion full-time: setting up a business, tax implications for 1099 work, customer service, and selling yourself…all important contributions to my career in the arts. I wouldn’t trade my time in accounting for anything because it made the scary, unknown leap of faith and gamble of betting on myself as successful as it is.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When I graduated college ready to begin acting professionally, I learned quickly that being a 23 year old, balding actor was going to be difficult. While my peers were auditioning to play Hamlet, I was auditioning to play Hamlet’s dad. I wasn’t old or mature enough to get cast in these type of roles, so I had to find a different niche where I’d be successful. I settled into being a comedic character actor; these roles are often “ageless” and tons of projects often have several of these roles. It’s been a blast, I’ve played roles of all different types: a hockey player’s raunchy best friend in “Army & Coop”, a mobster’s sidekick in “Rook.”, an obnoxious friend who pushes his religion onto everyone in “Milk ‘N Cookies”, and a degenerate gambler in “Clink. Shoot.” amongst others. I’m particularly proud of “Clink. Shoot.” because it was written by my friend Sam Gilstrap, stars Sam and myself, my video production company shot, edited, and produced it, and it’s been accepted to several film festivals to date.

I’ve also been very passionate about creating my own content with my own voice. My first experience working in film was shooting my original comedy sketches (I was Wilford Brimley in a diabetes commercial parody) and it was thrilling to see something in your head become a reality. I’ve written and shot dozens of original content with “Office Conduct”, “Bjorn & Jork”, “Best Worst Cantina” and “Letterpress Films.” I think writing my own material contributes to my success as an actor with other people’s work; when you learn how the process is done, it allows you to slip into someone else’s process with a lot more ease.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m not the biggest party goer, so this itinerary will probably be for a friend who is very similar to me.

First stop would be my favorite comedy club: Comedy Works South in Landmark. The Landmark area in South Denver is fantastic but also has one of the best comedy clubs in the nation. You’ll also find one of my favorite sushi places, Hapa Sushi, across the street.

Next, we’d head to my old stomping ground: the Lowry Town Center. You’ll find my favorite bar, the Lowry Beer Garden and my favorite concert venue The Soiled Dove Underground. Now, this is kind of a hot take since Denver has Red Rocks…but the Soiled Dove is far more intimate and relaxed. A quick 10 minute drive takes you to the Cherry Cricket where you’ll find the best burger I’ve ever had.

I’m a huge sports fan. I love my Denver Nuggets (2023 NBA CHAMPIONS), but tickets are pretty hard to come by for most. We’d head to Coors Field and enjoy some beautiful weather, a beautiful stadium, and our lovable losers the Colorado Rockies.

One of my past employers happens to be one of the top theaters in the nation. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has in-house theatre productions and the Buell Theatre with giant touring shows. It’s a must see, the facility is beautiful. The theater has a Tony Award…you gotta go check it out.

I think the Mayan Movie Theater is a pretty awesome place to see movies – they have a great atmosphere. They play the new releases, but also do special events where they show smaller indie films.

Last but certainly not least…the Chaos Bloom Comedy Club on South Broadway is one of my favorite places in Denver (let alone comedy club). My improv/sketch comedy group called “The Dads” perform there consistently and it’s the closet thing you’ll find to a New York underground comedy club. It’s a cheap ticket (usually $5-$10) and they have great comedians who just love making people laugh.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?

There are so, so many people in my life and career who deserve recognition…I’ll narrow it down to three.

Ray Bailey is an independent filmmaker who specializes in cinematic trailers and archival videos for live theatre. He does amazing work and has really changed the game for live theatre here in Colorado. www.raybailey.tv

Gary Miller is a content creator, marketer, and comedian in town. He runs “Best Worst Cantina” and is a very successful content strategist. If you ever need help with content and marketing, I’d reach out to him. www.bestworstcantina.com

John Moore runs a nonprofit called the “Denver Actors Fund.” It’s an organization that is dedicated to giving assistance to Colorado theatre artists who find themselves in situational medical need. John has been one of the most critical figures in the Colorado art scene over the last two decades and is now saving lives through this incredible organization. If you’re able, please consider donating and supporting this incredible organization: www.denveractorsfund.org

And as a personal shoutout, thank you to the people in my life who have always believed in me: my Mom and Dad, my wife Caitlin, and my best friend and co-founder of Letterpress Films Jayme Cole.

Website: www.benhilzer.com

Instagram: @benhilzer

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkCJRwzIy4A0qvWHUXkSomA

Other: Letterpress Films: www.letterpressfilmsco.com

Image Credits
A lot of these are screenshots from movies/marketing materials. My headshot was shot by Jeremy Rill.

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.