On the set of Killroy Was Here.

Acclaimed director, writer, and actor Kevin Smith and producer Jordan Monsanto returned to Sarasota over the 2017 winter break to film the second installment of Kilroy Was Here, a horror anthology based on the World War II-era ‘Kilroy was here’ graffiti that spread through the European theater by U.S. Armed Forces personnel. It is often depicted as a drooping-nose character.

The film, a Ringling College Studio Labs and Semkhor co-production, involved 33 Ringling students and 10 recent graduates working in nearly every aspect of production. They conducted exhaustive preproduction prior to the shoot and then shot nonstop January 9th through 12th, completing the complex filming schedule on time and on budget.

“It is that drive and passion that portends great futures for these young filmmakers,” commented Ringling College president Dr. Larry R. Thompson. “Their professionalism throughout the process continues to make lasting impressions on the industry luminaries they have been fortunate to work with as a part of their academic journey at the College and beyond.”

According to Nick Morgulis (Film, ’12), Killroy producer and one of our first Ringling College Film program graduates, “The students working on this production were phenomenal. More importantly, they are going to graduate with the screen credits and experience that would take anyone else ten years working in the industry to achieve.”

Killroy Was Here was shot on location throughout the greater Sarasota area, including local homes, Booker Middle School, and the new Ringling College Studio Labs soundstage facility. This production was brought to our community as a result of Ringling College’s collaborative efforts with David Shapiro of Semkhor Productions, who is also Executive Producer on the film.

“Kevin is an ideal partner in this venture because he is a natural teacher and encourages collaboration and suggestions from the students. Several times on this shoot he used input from students to improve scenes. Having the opportunity to work with Kevin is truly an inspiration for our aspiring filmmakers because of his phenomenal career in independent film.”

David Shapiro

Smith also brought friends and family with him for the most recent shoot, casting his daughter Harley Quinn Smith and longtime friend and collaborator actor Jason Mewes in pivotal roles in Killroy.

“I’ll always hold Sarasota dear to my heart because it gives me another chance to be her (Harley’s) dad again, but in a different capacity— her director,” Smith stated in an interview.

Shapiro expects to complete production of the third and final installment of Killroy Was Here this summer in Sarasota. The first installment of the film was shot in June 2017 during a successful yet grueling full week of all-night shoots in locations throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties.

As Smith commented in his SModcast interview on this most recent Ringling College Studio Labs experience, “I don’t come here to teach the kids, I come here to learn. In two trips here to Sarasota, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of talent I’ve been able to rest my laurels upon. Honestly — ten times out of ten on this picture I was shown things that were better than what I had in my head.”

By Rich Schineller | Photos by Rich Schineller
Rich Schineller is a communicator and visual imager as well as a staff consultant for Ringling College of Art and Design for the past decade.