Faced with an abrupt early end to their spring semester last March due to Covid-19, Ringling College of Art and Design sophomore film students—and their instructors—got creative about their projects. Normally a close-knit team of cinematographers, lighting designers, producers and directors working together, the class, at the suggestion of department head Brad Battersby and instructor CJ Julian, instead turned their movies into solo projects, where they were responsible for every aspect of the finished short films.
For some, it was a chance to make “quarantine movies” back at home with parents or siblings. Maddie Montana, for example, combined an old Christmas morning home video and an interview with her twin sister to tell the story of a mysterious disappearance. Sami Mahmoud starred in as well as writing and directing his film, an inner monologue dealing with mental fallout from social isolation. And Sarasota native Amanda Miller sat down with her Vietnam War veteran dad for her movie, My Father’s Daughter, hearing some of the war stories she had wanted to ask him about for a long time.
“I had wanted to shoot with him anyway,” says Miller. “So, while were disappointed we as students didn’t get to work together, we rolled with the punches.” And she got to talk with her father about his life, his experiences overseas, and to explore, she says, “how it affected me.”
Zoom sessions with her fellow students and instructors helped with concept and storyboards. “At first it was very difficult,” Miller admits. “I had to light, shoot, direct and produce all on my own. But we met every week, and the movie just kept improving with feedback.
“It was such a unique opportunity,” Miller says. “And I don’t know if it would have happened otherwise. My dad knew it was a story I wanted to tell, and while he doesn’t like being on camera, he’s my No. 1 supporter. So we did it, and I heard a lot of stories I hadn’t heard before.”
In the end, she says, the process of working alone, but with feedback from her fellow students, made her appreciate them more than ever. You can take a look at some of the completed The Quarantine Films at https://vimeo.com/quarantinefilmsringling .