Category Archives: Movies

‘Paradise’ Launches RocketHub Campaign

A RocketHub crowdsourcing effort launched today to raise money for final sound and editing for Paradise, FL, a feature length film shot in Southwest Florida by a Sarasota-based filmmaking team. The news comes after Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit artist service organization, agreed to sponsor Paradise, FL. The team set a goal of raising $12,500 in 28 days through the RocketHub campaign. Continue reading ‘Paradise’ Launches RocketHub Campaign

‘Dark Night’ Open Brings Ringling to Sundance

What began with a casting call at the Ringling College of Art and Design last year culminated in a movie premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last week, and the chance for some students and graduates to enter the biggest event each year in the world of independent film. Tim Sutton’s Dark Knight opened to critical affirmation—and gave the Sarasota film scene a moment of celebration.

The film, co-produced by Ringling College and David Shapiro of Semkhor Networks, premiered at the Utah Festival on Jan. 24, with a group of connected Ringling students and graduates on hand to meet with film industry leaders. Outlets including The Hollywood Reporter and Variety have offered raves of the movie and director Sutton, who last year arrived in Sarasota ready to be inspired by the talent. “What I do is to go have interesting talent and look at their backstory, then create characters mixing my imagination with their real lives,” Sutton told SRQ Backlot last year. The result of the process this time was a movie tackling the public psychology surrounding mass shootings (including the infamous Colorado shooting at a screening for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises).

Tony Stopperan, a filmmaker who has also been involved with heavily Ringling-staffed productions The Lucky 6 and Paradise, FL, served as an associate producer on the film and was amazed by the product and the Sundance experience. “The most striking thing the real power filmmakers have to be agents of change” Stopperan told SRQ. “From Tim’s Dark Night adding its voice to the conversation on gun violence, to Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation for the value in diversity of story and casting, Sundance is a platform that affects change. We were with both filmmakers and their respective casts and crews to celebrate their films, and I have never felt more empowered by them and the energy toward progress.” Stopperan was among 14 Ringling students, grads and representatives connected to the Dark Night.

Ringing officials, of course, also celebrated the premiere. College spokesman Rich Schineller, who also attended the premiere, noted that other productions also had Ringing connections. Adrien Grenier’s Lonely Whale, which the actor-turned-director teased early in the production process during a visit to Ringing College, was marketed with a logo designed by Ringing student Dania Hamad.”No other college is providing collaborative experiential professional work opportunities to students before graduation and preparing them for professional success like Ringling College is,” Schineller said.

And Jeanne Corcoran, Sarasota Film and Entertainment Office director, noted that another film, Kate Plays Christine, was filmed largely in Sarasota. The film is about an infamous suicide by Sarasota television journalist Christine Chubbuck on-air. Amazingly, another Sundance film, Christine, covers the same story.  Corcoran said filmakers for that movie did research in Sarasota but ultimately shot elsewhere.

‘Beneath the Helmet,’ ‘On The Map’ to screen at Milman-Kover Festival

The 2016 Milman-Kover Jewish Film Festival will kick off with a showing of Wayne Kopping’s Beneath The Helmet and close with Dani Menkin’s On The Map. The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee announced this week that the event, scheduled for March 6 through 13, will include screenings throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties.

“We plan to add matinee screenings at several local venues—to make it easier for audiences to see all the films,” said Roz Goldberg, festival co-chair. “In addition, we planned exciting special events—and special guests—that will greatly enhance the festival experience.” A complete list of films, times and locations will be released in January. Continue reading ‘Beneath the Helmet,’ ‘On The Map’ to screen at Milman-Kover Festival

Introducing The Essay Film Collaborative: Intercoastal Adventures with Mark Troy

ManaSota Films founder Mark Troy continues his mission to create a vibrant and active local film scene with the creation of a new intercity endeavor entitled the Essay Film Collaborative, uniting filmmakers in Sarasota-Bradenton with like-minded creatives in Savannah, Georgia and San Diego, California. Continue reading Introducing The Essay Film Collaborative: Intercoastal Adventures with Mark Troy

ManaSota Films: Mark Troy Handing Off The Mic

Tonight’s monthly ManaSota Films monthly meet-up at Parkway 8 Cinemas will be the last with founder Mark Troy playing the role of emcee, at least for the foreseeable future. According to Troy, veteran local filmmaker and active community member John Lagerholm will take over hosting duties for future gatherings. Continue reading ManaSota Films: Mark Troy Handing Off The Mic

Bradenton Filmmakers Take Suncoast Students Under Wing

At Suncoast Technical College, students in the Digital Video Production program are benefitting from a new partnership with Bradenton filmmakers Trishul Thejasvi, owner of Orensis Films, and Thomas Nudi, writer/director of the recently completed feature-length film Monty Comes Back, who have been working with the students over the period of the last three months, leading them on a crash course through the art of storytelling and independent film production. Today, with five short film scripts written by the students, who will also direct, the group is putting out a call to the community for local actors to help complete these all-local productions. Continue reading Bradenton Filmmakers Take Suncoast Students Under Wing

Detert preparing ‘film reform package’ to empower moviemaking in Florida

As state Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, gears up for her last regular session in Tallahassee, she says film will be one of her personal top priorities. But she does plan on taking a different approach this year, one that learns from “past mistakes” and which seeks to encourage filmmakers to headquarter permanently in the Sunshine State. “Film should be an indigenous industry in the state of Florida,” Detert said. “I don’t think you should fly in here and make a movie, get paid and fly back to Los Angeles. We should do more to recruit the film industry as a permanent industry in our state.”

Detert made the remarks to Sarasota City Commissioners Monday night as she briefed them on upcoming issues in the Legislature. The Venice Republican has been one of the state’s most vocal champions for film, but in the last two sessions saw film incentives legislation she sponsored eventually die. Film incentives were last funded by the state in 2010, but state officials have since spent the $296 million set aside for wooing film projects. Detert last year sponsored legislature to restore some funding, but it ultimately was left out of the budget when the session ended abruptly amid a budget battle between the House and Senate.

Along the way, she has made enemies with the Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity political committee (see video below), but she remains convinced a bigger film industry in Florida means jobs in a variety of sectors.

She notes the industry has been especially kind to the Sarasota area, where Ringling College of Art and Design just broke ground on a production facility. From familiar film work for actors and camera techs to indirectly supported industries like caterers, florists and a host of other work, a production can spread a substantial amount of wealth in a region. And while the average annual pay for jobs created by companies receiving state incentives runs around $44,000, that figure for the film industry is around $70,000. “It makes perfect sense to me.”

But Detert wants more than incentives. In a “film reform package” she plans to introduce in session this year, she is expected to call for a substantial shift in operations for the Florida Film Commission, moving it out from the Department of Economic Opportunity and instead putting it under the auspices of Enterprise Florida. Among other changes, that would mean relocating the agency to Orlando. “I want to see an empowered film commissioner, and one who has a passion for the industry, who reaches out and brings film into Florida,” Detert says.

Those remarks come a couple weeks after Detert dressed down Florida Film Commissioner Niki Welge at a Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

And improvement must occur for Florida to maintain a competitive stance. With Georgia actively wooing studios and Atlanta becoming a film center of its own, Florida has lost some embarrassing bids in the past year. Detert noted the Ben Affleck production Live By Night, where filmmakers decided it would be cheaper to rebuild a full set of Ybor City in Georgia than to film in the Tampa community, and the upcoming The Unknowns: Talent is Colorblind, a film about the Fort Pierce-based Florida Highwaymen that will be shot in Savannah. “That’s a Florida story,” she said of the Highwaymen film, “and it should be filmed in Florida.”

Of course, the growing industry in Georgia means more than just successful tax incentives. As film productions like The Hunger Games and television series like The Walking Dead set up shop in Atlanta, a pool of experienced professionals and the availability of high-end facilities and technology encourages further prosperity. In addition to improving teaching facilities for Ringling students, the improvements at the Sarasota art school are expected to boost the local film infrastructure.

“You have conducted a coup in that area,” Detert told Sarasota leaders. “It’s thrilling what Ringling is doing. One of the things Americans are still great at is creativity, and you are ahead of the curve in that area.”

Now, Detert says, the focus should be on making sure film productions don’t simply set up shop for temporary stints. To make incentives work, there may need to be more strings attached, she said. Those could ensure more studios establish here. “Half of them have house here anyway, and like everybody, they want to work where they live,” she said.