Actor, writer and producers Justin Long and brother Christian Long begin their collaboration with Ringling College of Art and Design film students on an eight episode, Sarasota-based travel/comedy show.
Justin Long is no stranger to the Ringling College of Art and Design. He first visited the campus in 2012 with fellow actor Sam Rockwell and yet again in 2013 as a speaker in the college's Digital Filmmaking Studio Lab. Yesterday, Long returned with his filmmaking partner and younger brother Christian Long to do more than just talk with students. They're here to create and collaborate.
Long, who is known for starring in such films as "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," "Drag Me to Hell" and "Comet" and TV shows "New Girl," "Portlandia" and "Inside Amy Schumer," returns to Sarasota with creative partner and brother Christian Long to produce an eight-episode travel/comedy web series based in and shot in Sarasota.
Working in collaboration with more than a dozen upperclassmen filmmaking students at Ringling College and the college's Digital Filmmaking Studio Lab, the two held their first pre-production meeting with the students. Shooting is scheduled to begin in March with a hopeful summer 2016 release date. The students will help produce, film, edit and design the web series along with the brothers. In addition, Justin Long added that independent filmmaker pioneer Kevin Smith (director of "Clerks," "Mallrats," "Chasing Amy," "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" and "Tusk") will also help assist in mentoring and advising on the production.
"Over the years that we've visited Ringling College and Sarasota we just loved the facilities, the students and the enthusiasm we found here," says Justin Long. "We felt like it would be a good marriage, and we wanted to utilize all the wealth of resources here that have largely gone untapped in terms of people outside the college."
The as-of-yet unnamed web series will reflect not only the genuine love that the brothers have garnered for Sarasota, but be a platform for not only the students to receive professional, on-set experience as well as the brothers to learn and create an independent show completely divorced from the corporate, studio infrastructure. Justin and Christian Long as well as the students hope to shine a spotlight on the local flavor, characters and sights in Sarasota that break past the normal Florida stereotypes and the standard tourist fare.
"What are the things you remember and enjoy the most about traveling?" says Justin Long. "Rarely is it the building or the restaurant that you visit. It's the people you meet at the building, restaurant or while you're on the way to Machu Picchu."
Justin and Christian Long said they're excited to work with the students and staff at Ringling College, and though they're offering them a professional platform, the brothers say that they hope to learn as much from them.
"Working with these students doesn't feel like a risk," says Christian Long. "We we were here two years ago and we got to meet the students and were shown around, everyone was so incredibly polished and skilled at what they were showing us. Any fear one might have working with students was quickly erased when we met them."
Justin and Christian Long say that the initial plan for the web series will feature Justin acting as a character host interacting with the people and places that represent what students called "underground" Sarasota.
"It’s a show geared to younger people and I think there are a lot of great things Sarasota has a lot to offer skewed to younger people than I would think being an outsider," says Justin Long. "I would have thought of it as an older community. We want to branch out and show people there's more and that’s what we want to do with this city and hopefully with other cities too."