And We're Rolling!

Higher Education

BY DR. LARRY THOMPSON SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY APR 29, 2017

The first official day of summer may be weeks away, but things are already heating up at Ringling College for film students, filmmakers, and movie lovers everywhere.

Just last week, I had the pleasure of discussing the recent inauguration of Ringling Studios, our new state-of-the-art facility that allows students to work with a wide range of top filmmakers on their film projects, in a guest column for the Herald-Tribune. Well, believe it or not, a lot has happened in that one short week.

Today I’m delighted to share with the SRQ Daily audience two new developments which will undoubtedly benefit our community of film students, supporters, and the Sarasota region in general. Not only are we a principal participant in the exciting Sunscreen Film Festival, presented by the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Film Society, which started this week, but I’m especially  pleased to announce that the Head of the Ringling College Film Program, Bradley Battersby, was named the 2017 Mentor of the Year by Variety magazine.

I honestly can’t say I’m surprised. Throughout his time at the College, Mr. Battersby has built a collaborative environment of creative filmmaking experimentation that allows our students to flex their storytelling muscles while developing professional level production expertise. Under his purview, the Ringling College Film Program—just a decade in the making—has already been nationally ranked and recognized, currently #16 by the Hollywood Reporter.  

A brand-new professional production complex is being constructed to amplify our curriculum. Soundstage A, the first building of this three building complex, had its ribbon cutting on April 3, 2017.  Not only were Ringling College students and employees present for this occasion but also city and county officials such as County Commissioner Nancy Detert. The most talked about participant, however, was Antoine Fuqua, the world-renowned director of such blockbuster movies as The Magnificent Seven, Training Day, and The Replacement Killers, to name a few.  As a result of our partnership with David Shapiro of Semkhor Productions, the College’s film program, under Brad’s leadership, launched the innovative Ringling College Studio Lab which has created a whole new way to teach filmmaking to college students and granted exposure to some of the biggest names in the Film business.

Hats off to Mr. Battersby on this singular recognition by the preeminent magazine covering the motion-picture industry. As much as this award is a huge accomplishment for Bradley, it is even more of a huge win for Ringling College and, most importantly, our students.

Secondly, this week we partnered with the Sunscreen Film Festival, which premiered the first three episodes of Sugar, a web series collaboration between actor, writer, and director Dylan McDermott and Ringling College Film students.

The Sunscreen Documentary feature selection, Finding Babel, will also premiere in Sarasota at our newly constructed Soundstage A at Ringling Studios on Sunday. This remarkable film follows the life and work of Isaac Babel, best known as the author of Red Cavalry, one of the true masterpieces of modern Russian literature. On top of that, renowned filmmaker Steve Michelson is working with Ringling College’s Studio Lab to create several new and compelling online courses in filmmaking. We’re looking forward to climbing even higher in the rankings as our film programs come into full bloom.

It goes without saying – we have a lot going on at Ringling College. And hold on to your hats, because there’s definitely more to come. As the rest of the Ringling Studios facility opens this summer and fall, we look forward to the work that will spring forth. Because that’s truly why we do what we do—to educate and prepare new artists and designers, the future creative leaders of tomorrow, and to enfold members of our incredible Sarasota-Manatee Community. Without a doubt, our award-winning Film program will continue to do just that. Summer may not officially be here yet, but you can already feel the creative heat of a driving passion for filmmaking on campus!

Dr. Larry R. Thompson is President of Ringling College of Art and Design.

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