David Shapiro, Semkhor Partners

Business Q & A

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY FEB 23, 2015

The Ringling College of Art and Design’s film department has earned numerous headlines in the last few years bringing high-caliber talent to teach classes. While the school’s arts reputation helps in that, the intricate involvement of Semkhor Partners has ensured a steady flow of top-level talent to the Digital Filmmaking Studio Lab. We spoke with Semkhor co-founder David Shapiro about the relationship between the studio and school and what it could mean for the film industry locally.

How has the relationship between Semkhor Partners and Ringling College of Art and Design helped grow the filmmaking infrastructure here? The Ringling soundstage is an outgrowth of the collaboration with Semkhor; we are the developers on that. For the past four years, Larry Thomspon (Ringling College president) and I have been focused on trying to develop the sort of infrastructure that would allow all of this to be sustainable and not just some one-shot things. We had a test run with [actress] Anna [Paquin]’s movie, Free Ride, but now we have become more organized and are providing financial and infrastructural support for [director] Tim Sutton’s new film. 

How do you attract the talent to the Gulf Coast?  Sarasota is off the beaten part for an L.A. or a New York production but we are getting people to see a lot of the advantages here, Ringling College being a big one. The people here are interesting and helpful. We have a lot of commercial development work coming up, including with some recognized celebrities. [Actor] Dylan McDermott is going to be be shooting something here. We have people who are getting involved in projects either to be a part of them or simply to invest in them and provide the framework.

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