Lights, Camera, Action

Ringling College Completes Its State-of-the-Art Studio Lab Complex

Screenwriter Zak Penn (The Avengers, Ready Player One) was on hand for the festivities.

By Megan McDonald November 28, 2018

Ringling College president Larry Thompson and Semkhor Productions' David Shapiro

On Tuesday, Ringling College of Art and Design—in collaboration with Semkhor Productions—officially opened its post-production facility, completing the final piece of the college's state-of-the-art Studio Labs complex. 

The new facility is comprised of three 2,000-square-foot soundstages, 5,000 square feet of post-production space (including editing suites, dubbing bays, a Foley sound stage and a theater), and two additional 8,400-square-foot isolated soundstages, with one dedicated to Ringling College's film program and another reserved for commercial production. In all, the complex comprises an entire city block. And the facility has already welcomed commercial clients, including a national apparel brand and Walgreens, which has two commercials in post-production there. 

One of the editing suites in the new Studio Labs complex.

"This is the culmination of our plan to attract commercial production and economic development to Sarasota, while providing career-making experiences for our students," Ringling College president Larry Thompson says. "We're going to be the envy of every film program in the United States—there's nothing like this in the country."

"We look forward to supporting the amazing talent in our area," adds Semkhor Productions founder and CEO David Shapiro. "We've worked hard to make sure the place reflects the best aspirations of art and commerce."

Ringling will also continue to welcome film industry heavy-hitters to the Studio Labs and to its campus, as it has done since its film program's inception. Kicking off the 2018-19 season was screenwriter Zak Penn, who's worked on The AvengersThe Incredible HulkRescue Dawn (with frequent RCAD collaborator Werner Herzog) and, most recently, Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One. Currently, he's writing on a new Matrix movie and working on an adaptation of the comic book ROM. (Danny Glover and The OA actress Brit Marling are also set to visit campus this year.)

Zak Penn talks to reporters prior to his Q&A at Ringling College.

"I'm really impressed by the breadth of work that's being done here," Penn says.  "This place seems to have arisen from the ground like a volcano—every building is brand-new."

His advice for aspiring young filmmakers and screenwriters? "You have to move to L.A. and make connections, but you also have to tell a story well—and so much of what students are learning here is how to tell a story well. Television, movies, telling a joke—it's all just telling a good story with different page counts, or words arranged differently on the page.

"The students I spoke to were so far ahead of the students I normally talk to in terms of their understanding—there aren't a lot of questions about theory!" he continued. "They're being prepared for a career—they're not messing around." 

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