Aubrey Plaza Returns to Ringling College to Screen ‘Life After Beth’ and Launch Sixth Season of the Ringling College Studio Lab

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Actress Aubrey Plaza returned to Ringling College of Art and Design on October 7, 2014 to launch the sixth season of the College’s Studio Lab speaker series with a screening of her latest film, ‘Life After Beth.’

Ringling's Dania Hammad, Director/Screenwriter Jeff Baena (On Screen) and Actress Aubrey Plaza ©Ringling College of Art and Design, Photo by Madison Greer McDonald

I’m excited to bring this movie to Ringling ... it’s a very special place

Ringling College of Art and Design today announced that actress Aubrey Plaza returned to Ringling College of Art and Design on October 7, 2014 to launch the sixth season of the College’s Studio Lab speaker series with a screening of her latest film, ‘Life After Beth.’ The question and answer session following the film was moderated by Ringling’s Dania Hammad, Student Government Association President and ArtNetwork staff member.

Aubrey and director/screenwriter Jeff Baena first visited Ringling College in March of 2013 to participate as guest artists in a film class and to attend the College’s annual student scholarship fundraiser ‘An Evening at the Avant-Garde,’ where Aubrey was Honorary Chair. In May 2013, American Zoetrope picked up Jeff’s script, ‘Life After Beth,’ which starts Ms. Plaza, and selected Ringling alumni Andrew Burhoe ’12 (Film) and Stephanie Gomez ’12 (Illustration) as on-set interns during the film’s production. This past January, members of the Ringling team accompanied Aubrey and Jeff to the Sundance Film Festival for the film’s premiere.

According to Ringling graduate Stephanie Gomez, “Working on ‘Life After Beth’ was an amazing experience both as a creative and work environment. I was a wardrobe production assistant and worked with the costumes and clothing for the film. I studied illustration at Ringling, so my skills lie in drawing and painting. Luckily, a zombie film like this one had lots of blood that needed splattering and I thoroughly enjoyed getting my hands dirty, seeing the artistic side of styling and designing clothing. Coincidentally my most recent commission was for a zombie cutting board for an indie designer in San Diego.”

Aubrey, who is best known for her role as April Ludgate on NBC’s acclaimed ‘Parks and Recreation,’ stars as the lead, Beth Slocum, in the romantic zombie comedy ‘Life After Beth’ alongside co-star Dane DeHaan. Aubrey will next be seen in ‘Mortdecai’ opposite Johnny Depp and Oliver Platt on January 23, 2015 and as the lead in Hal Hartley’s upcoming feature, ‘Ned Rifle,’ which premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. She recently wrapped production on ‘A Driftless Area’ opposite John Hawkes. Aubrey is well known for her roles in Judd Apatow’s ‘Funny People’, Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World’, Maggie Carey’s ‘The To Do List’ and Colin Trevorrow’s critically acclaimed feature ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ for which she won the 2012 ALMA Award for ‘Favorite Movie Actress – Comedy/Musical.’

Prior to writing and directing ‘Life After Beth,’ Jeff Baena co-wrote ‘I Heart Huckabees’ and is currently working on ‘Revenge of the Jocks,’ which is in development.

“I’m excited to bring this movie to Ringling ... it’s a very special place,” said Plaza. “It’s a thrill to showcase our film we worked so hard on,” added Baena. Offering advice to aspiring creatives, Baena added “Whatever opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it. Look for opportunities and do a good job so you have a good reputation... know what your strengths and weaknesses are... and always be authentic and honest and true.”

“We are so excited to welcome Aubrey back to the Ringling campus to share ‘Life After Beth’ with our students,” said Ringling President Dr. Larry R. Thompson. “The Studio Lab has helped us create amazing synergies with the film and entertainment industry that are now creating professional (‘real-world’) experiences for our students. We look forward to the day when we can guarantee every Ringling student the opportunity to work on real jobs with real clients before they graduate, helping jumpstart their professional careers. Our recently announced soundstage and post production facility complex will escalate industry interaction and will elevate student learning as we attract film and television projects to Ringling and to Sarasota.”

David Shapiro of Semkhor and cofounder with Ringling College of the Studio Lab, stated that “Aubrey is a great inspiration to the Ringling students. Her drive and resultant success encourages those around her to push their creative envelopes. Last year, students had the opportunity to work with Aubrey and Jeff in a Master Class at Ringling, and several were offered the chance to be part of the ‘Life After Beth’ production as interns. Our vision of transforming the Ringling experience from classroom into career is beginning to manifest itself in exciting ways. Industry internships and direct experience is an integral part of the Studio Lab, which, until now has only been able to be done outside the Ringling campus. Our new Soundstage and post facility will create a sustainable production environment for the college and Sarasota that will soon attract artists of Aubrey and Jeff’s caliber.”

In September, Ringling College announced plans to build a 30,000 + square foot professional post-production facility and soundstage on land adjoining the campus comprising almost a complete city block. The state-of-the-art professional film and television production complex is tied to the College’s academic needs and is expected to attract a broad range of commercial production. When complete, the College will conduct filmmaking classes and the College’s students will work on commercial productions that use the complex.

The College’s efforts to accelerate Sarasota’s economic development as an entertainment production hub received initial support from the County with the provision of a $1.75-million Financial Incentive Grant. Semkhor and partners BHS Properties will invest more than double that amount to build the physical plant.
About Ringling College and Film Production

Ringling College first developed its academic filmmaking program in 2008. In collaboration with Semkhor since 2010 the College has provided enhanced learning across all disciplines by connecting industry professionals to the classroom and providing professional level experiences to our students and young graduates.

“With the addition of the Soundstage/post production complex, student education will now provide an unbridled opportunity for enhanced economic development focused on the film and entertainment industries,” said Dr. Larry R. Thompson. “Every year, our most promising and well-prepared students are recruited by the top employers in the world and leave our area seeking work and professional accomplishment. The many coordinated elements of our growing academic program with the Studio Lab component and now this new complex are laying the groundwork with which to retain some of our best and brightest talent and to help us drive the entertainment production economic engine in our region.”

About Ringling College of Art and Design
Ringling College of Art and Design is a private, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering the Bachelors of Fine Arts degree the following disciplines: Advertising Design, Computer Animation, Film, Fine Arts, Game Art, Graphic Design, Illustration, Interior Design, Motion Design, Painting, Photography & Imaging, Printmaking, and Sculpture, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Business of Art & Design. Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the picturesque 48-acre campus enrolls nearly 1,300 students from 44 states and 50 countries.

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