Rookie filmmakers from Bradenton proud to be in film fest

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SARASOTA, Fla. - From its humble start with just eight films, to now more than 200, the Sarasota Film Festival has grown since its start in 1999. This year, there are more than 250 filmmakers here from around the world, and two of them make up a couple from Bradenton who barely held a camera before in their lives.

Their documentary is a profile of a local resident.

Last July in Manatee County, local boxer China Smith had his comeback fight. Prior to that fight, two of China's friends wanted to help sell tickets with a video for YouTube. “It was supposed to be a promotion, just with China. After the 2nd interview it just took off by itself,” says Ray Rodriguez.

It took off all right, landing in the "Documentary Short" category of the Sarasota Film Festival. “We were so excited,” says Lori Collins.

The movie, China ‘The Dragon’ Smith: The Second Chance, traces the rise and fall and rise of a man born and raised in Newtown, resisted temptations, took the high road, and now preaches to kids.

And while China stays in shape to attempt another comeback this summer, Lori and Ray have already entered their film in other festivals.

They still can't believe it. “We've never been behind a camera before.”

“It was so much fun interviewing his friends, his coaches. It was an amazing process and we loved every minute of it.”