Filmmaker Roman Coppola, college president Larry R. Thompson, Sarasota mayor Willie Shaw and more were on hand to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Sarasota film.
Even though the skies were gloomy and rain was falling down, spirits could not have been higher on the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Way and Cocoanut Avenue. Administrators, fundraisers and film aficionados were on hand to commemorate the ground breaking of Ringling College of Art and Design's future Soundstage film complex.
Slated to open by 2017, the 30,000 square foot filming and post production facility will allow students and professional filmmakers to learn and collaborate on brand new film, digital and web content.
"Today has been a long time in the making and is a win-win-win for Ringling College, Sarasota and Sarasota County," says Larry R. Thompson, president of Ringling College of Art and Design. "We're proud to be the 17th best film school in the country, but we're not satisfied. This facility is the next step in not only becoming the best film school in the country but also the premiere art college in the country."
The five soundstage and post-production complex will be the size of a city block and located right across the street from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and solidifies the college's connection to the Newtown neighborhood.
Outside of being an educational and artistic center, backers and community leaders hope the Soundstage will bring industry professionals to Sarasota for future film projects and make a viable economic impact in Sarasota, especially in the Newtown neighborhood that will border the complex. Sarasota County gave the college a $1.75 million grant to complete the project.
"It has to be an economic and community stimulus," says Willie Shaw, mayor of Sarasota. "We've seen in the past that if it goes to Ringling College it affects the whole community around the college. Ringling College is a jewel in Sarasota, and now that this Soundstage will bring film industry leaders to Sarasota, I believe it will positively impact the community."
The Soundstage will be the home of the college's film department as well as its Studio Lab, which provides students with the opportunity to gain professional experience with Hollywood and industry insiders like Justin Long, Marisa Tomei, Ed Burns, Spike Lee and Roman Coppola, who was on hand to commemorate the ground breaking and helped design the facilities of state of the art complex.
"Today is a testament to everyone who believed in this project," says Coppola. "To know in a a year's time that something will be filmed here and that hopefully this structure will last 100 years, is something to be celebrated. It will inspire people and feed the appetite for the arts. I salute you and all of Sarasota for making this happen."