Smith, Ringling Students Begin Filming "Killroy Was Here"



Filmmaker Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma) returns to Sarasota and the Ringling College of Art and Design, beginning filming late last night near Nathan Benderson Park on his latest project—a horror anthology film entitled Killroy Was Here. Dodging mosquitoes and with reports of an alligator in the area, Smith and a crew comprising 26 students and graduates from Ringling College stuck it out “in the wilds of Gulf Coast Florida,” as Smith described it to his legion of online fans in a broadcast from the set, until 5am finding the perfect shot.

In a way, Killroy, as an idea, had been floating around some time, says Smith, initially as an anthology story loosely based off of the Krampus, a sinister St. Nicholas counterpart from European folklore. But a film called Krampus released in 2015, causing problems. In an example of what Smith described to Ringling students last year as a career of successful “pivots,” instead of scrapping the idea, he retooled it around a fictional monster named after the famous graffiti popularized during WWII.

“Instead of saying, ‘Krampus has been done,’” says Smith, “we turned it into a different movie.” From there, pairing with Ringling College and incorporating students into the production was only natural for a filmmaker known for low-budget magic and a DIY guerrilla style. “Ringling College of Art and Design has an amazing film school in the center of it,” he says. “I tried going to film school but quit to go make a movie. If I’d had a chance to work with a real director, I probably would’ve graduated.” Approaching the equation now from the opposite direction, Smith reported high praise for the Ringling crew, reportedly confiding to one Ringling official that the students ranked among the professionals he worked with directing television episodes for major networks.

Joining Smith and the students on set, award-winning special effects wizard Robert Kurtzman of Creature Corps helps bring the titular monster to life using practical effects with silicone and rubber, giving students a taste for the old school as digital continues to grow. “If you watched horror movies in the ‘80s or ‘90s,” says Smith or Kurtzman, “you know his work.” With a resume including near every popular horror franchise of those decades, as well as non-horror classics such as Predator and Dances with Wolves, Kurtzman brings a wealth of experience for the students to draw from.

Killroy Was Here is an exciting project as part of our ongoing effort to provide hands-on, active production crew experience and screen credits for Ringling College students and graduates,” says Dr. Larry R. Thompson, president of Ringling College, with David Shapiro of Semkhor Productions, the college’s longtime partner in its entry into the film world, continuing: “Our goal is to help Ringling students and local residents gain the right kind of experience to become a top-tier entertainment workforce with which to attract bigger and more complex productions to Sarasota. We’re very fortunate to have this level of talent here sharing the breadth and depth of their experience so graciously.”

Pictured: Kevin Smith steps away from the set of "Killroy Was Here" to address reporters at Nathan Benderson Park. Photo by Wyatt Kostygan.

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