Ringling students becoming professionals—one award-winning project at a time.

In autumn 2016, brothers Justin and Christian Long filmed their new comedic series, The Real Stephen Blatt, in Sarasota in partnership with the Ringling College Studio Lab and Semkhor Productions. The series was written by the brothers and directed by Justin as an exploration of the allure and risks of pursuing internet fame as told through the eyes of Justin’s teenage character, ‘Stephen Blatt.’

‘Stephen Blatt’ pursues internet celebrity and provides a compelling view of the dissociative effect of social media on today’s youth with humor, satire and pathos. Ringling graduates and students working on the series gained valuable production experience and screen credits.

Cast and crew strike a wrap photo.

The series is in final editing and is currently being submitted to leading film festivals.

The multi-disciplinary nature of this Studio Lab production seamlessly integrated not just Film Program expertise but all fields of study at Ringling College.

Ringling graduates Shantanu Suri (Film, ’16) and Sebastian Avery (Film, ’16) designed the look and feel of The Real Stephen Blatt working as art director and production designer, respectively. They rose to the challenge and created an overall palette for the production in which many of the scenic components mirrored the colors of leading social media sites. Illustrative of their approach is the planetary mobile Suri and Avery created for Stephen Blatt’s bedroom, which is subconsciously evocative of Twitter and Facebook color schemes.

Business of Art and Design program grads Keith Nielsen, ’15 and Hanna Persson, ’14 managed costume and wardrobe for the series. They created some of Stephen’s signature looks while also working with local retailers and supporters to cost-effectively outfit the cast and meeting production budget parameters.

“Even though these are all students or recent graduates, mostly in their twenties, I was impressed with how professional they were,” Justin Long comments. “I would put them on par with any of the biggest Hollywood movies I’ve done. I was bracing myself for having to deal with a learning curve and it was just the opposite—they were all so much on the ball. I can’t say enough about the crew we had.”

The Real Stephen Blatt was produced by David Shapiro of Semkhor Productions and Tony Stopperan of Ringling College’s Studio Lab.

By Rich Schineller  |  Photography by Rich Schineller

To learn more about Justin Long’s web series, view our website.