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Business Observer Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 6 years ago

Ringling College of Art, Design creating filmmaking complex

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Ringling College of Art and Design announced plans to create a new digital filmmaking complex in downtown Sarasota.

Ringling College of Art and Design announced plans to create a new digital filmmaking complex in downtown Sarasota.

The project, which will total roughly 30,000 square feet, will span almost a city block from Central Avenue to Cocoanut Avenue along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and 25th Street. The building will include a multimedia soundstage and a professional post-production studio; amenities targeted at growing the college's digital filmmaking program.

As part of that program, which was created in 2008, Ringling has provided students with the opportunity to work with film professionals such as Anna Paquin and Werner Herzog. Ringling College of Art and Deisgn President Larry Thompson said the new project, on which “Moonrise Kingdom” co-writer Roman Coppola is serving as a consultant, would allow for even more professional opportunities for students.

“What we really want is for our students to make the connections, to learn from these professionals about the craft and about the art of making movies and doing entertainment media,” Thompson told the Sarasota Observer. “That was the goal. Lo and behold, with this, it will finally happen.”

The building will be used for both educational and commercial purposes and is a collaboration between multiple public and private entities. Sarasota County committed a $1.75 million grant to the college for a post-production studio in 2010, and renewed that grant earlier this year as Ringling's plans evolved. Thompson developed the plan with David Shapiro of Semkhor Networks, which co-founded Ringling's Digital Filmmaking Studio Lab.

Ringling, Semkhor and BHS Properties are collaborating on the construction of the property, which is scheduled to begin in 2015 and is targeted for completion in 2016. Thompson said the costs are still to be determined, but that it was roughly a $5 million to $7 million investment. He says adequate funding for the project should already be secured, though the college is still interested in philanthropic donations.

In addition to the film complex, Ringling College is also working on the construction of a new 46,000-square-foot library and hopes to grow its student body by 15% in the next three to five years.

— reporting by David Conway, correspondent

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