Ringling College of Art and Design students are getting a once in a lifetime chance to work on a film set with professionals right in their own backyard.
They’ve had the opportunity to work with filmmakers before, but this time they’re working with Kevin Smith (“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”), who co-wrote what will become the horror anthology film with Andy McElfresh, and they are teaming up with Robert Kurtzman for effects and Semkhor Productions.
Smith and the crew are working on “Killroy Was Here,” what will be a four-part horror anthology film that’s filming this week in Sarasota and St. Petersburg that he compares to “Creepshow.” Details of the film are still very much under wraps, but Smith described it as a “monster movie in the sense of a classic morality tale.” There will be separate stories with the monster — who travels to Florida by water — as a binding device, Smith said.
The idea for “Killroy Was Here” came from a podcast that Smith is a part of. He and Andy McElfresh made a movie on that podcast that is identical to that of “Killroy Was Here,” but with a different “monster.” The title comes from graffiti on tanks during World War II showing that a unit had inspected the marked tanks that spread.
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Smith met with the media Wednesday night at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, where the crew was filming a scene.
Smith tentatively plans to return in December to finish the project.
“So far it’s been really cool,” Smith said. “You know when I went to film school, I wanted to make a film. So let’s make a film with them and take that film out into the world. It’s charming. ... And we got to make an old-school kind of 80s-horror film.”
Smith said he plans to take the completed project to film festivals.
But it’s the students, Smith said, who bring an energy to the set that he enjoys working with and encourages their participation.
“These kids, this is what they dream about doing,” Smith said. “There’s a reason old people like being around the young. We’re energy vampires and these kids are boundless energy, but they’re also full of new ideas. It’s like a mini film school for me as well.”
He said he also told the students not to be afraid to make suggestions.
Twenty-six students and graduates are involved in the production, according to a release on the partnership. They are involved in nearly every department of production, either working under a professional or with professionals by their side as mentors, said producer and Ringling College alum Nick Mogulis. But it’s the students getting hands-on experience that’s important.
“(The movie) is an exciting project as part of our ongoing effort to provide hands-on, active production crew experience and screen credits for Ringling College students and graduates while also bringing world-renowned producers, directors and Hollywood-level entertainment productions to Sarasota to use the college’s film facilities,” Larry R. Thompson, President of Ringling College, said in a release. “Working alongside entertainment professionals, the students participate in an immersive creative and production program that takes them from script to final delivery. They also are able to connect with these high-level industry professionals.”
What Smith hopes students will take out of the experience is that they see someone “who gets paid to do it” to see how they interact with people.
“You can’t impart vision; these kids have enough vision,” Smith said. “I can’t impart storytelling ability, you have that. It’s in you or it isn’t, and it’s gotten them this far so it’s in them. What I can impart is deportment. You can’t be it unless you see it first.”
The students will get credits and will receive an IMDb credit when the project is completed.