Ringling College students impress film festival with commercial

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SARASOTA - Not everyone walking the red carpet at the Sarasota Film Festival is a big name Hollywood filmmaker. In fact, two students from the Ringling College of Art and Design are right in midst of some of the best minds in the industry.

The students entered a competition sponsored by the film festival. But their entry was so outstanding, it blew the judges away.

We dropped by the Department of Motion Design at Ringling College to meet the students, get a look at what they created for the Sarasota Film Festival, and find out how they did it.

When you give a project to students, you’re usually expecting something amateur. When the Sarasota Film Festival came to the Ringling College Department of Motion Design, they were hoping for something professional. They were shocked at what they got.

They asked the students to develop a 30-second commercial/trailer for the festival. "What the festival is about as a concept. In other words, we're international, we have a broad, diverse audience, there are several elements of filmmaking and design that we bring to the table in terms of the outreach of movies and how they interact with our communities. So we want to see that reflected in the projects," says festival director Tom Hall.

And the festival made the project a competition for sophomores in the department. The students divided into teams and got busy.

And one team created a trailer so outstanding, the Sarasota Film Festival took it out of the competition and made it their official film festival trailer and commercial. "You'll see it on television; it’s on Comcast networks right now. You’ll see it screened before every film, and at the opening and closing ceremonies, and online," says co-creator Jason Beale.

Their work was chosen over all the professionals, which was quite a coup for Jason Beale and Audrey Aquino.

Of course, right here in their classrooms they have all the very latest high-tech tools to work with. "We have all the equipment to create traditional animation, computer animation, video, as well as audio," says program coordinator Ed Cheetham.

But Jason and Audrey didn't feel all this equipment was their key to winning. "They're great tools, but the biggest tool is our mind. We really have to come up with concepts before we can produce anything. That's one thing they really help with at Ringling: understanding that equipment, they’re tools. But you have to have the idea first," says Beale.

"I feel like you could have all these amazing graphics, but without a story and a narrative it's almost nothing. I feel like our piece was successful because we stressed so heavily on telling a story in 15 to 30 seconds," says Aquino.

Here's what they came up with, and the story it tells: "This filmmaker that is able to open up the hands, and everything in there are the elements and fundamentals of film," says Aquino.

And the ultimate pay off for these students? "Actually see your piece on a big screen and actually see people enjoy it and appreciate it," says Beale.

So you don't have to go to Hollywood to find the filmmakers of tomorrow, you'll probably find many of them sitting right here in the classrooms at the Department of Motion Design at Ringling College.

Jason and Audrey will be sitting right alongside the festival big wigs at Friday night’s opening event, watching the audience watch their creation.