A recent Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts graduate is a winner of a competitive film showcase with only five awardees each year.
James Ross, who received his master’s in film production in the summer of 2023, was recognized by The Gotham Film & Media Institute’s fifth annual Focus Features & JetBlue Student Short Film Showcase for his short horror thesis film, “Don’t Blink.”
The film was awarded a $10,000 grant that the college will use to fund future festival entry and travel for students. Awardees also will have their film shown for 12 months on JetBlue’s seatback entertainment systems under the “Gotham Selects” movie category and on Focus Features digital streaming platforms.
Throughout 2024, the winning filmmakers will also receive ongoing mentorship and workshopping opportunities from The Gotham.
“It affords our new graduates an unusual level of attention and support as they leave the program,” said Brenda Mills, director of Industry Relations.
This showcase received projects from 34 graduate film schools, more than half of the graduate film programs in the United States.
Ross credits the resources of the film school for this honor.
“The FSU film school was generous and provided all of the equipment we needed to make this film,” Ross said.
Ross explained the importance of working in an experimental environment to make mistakes with the freedom to create “from whatever drives you, your imagination, whatever’s personal and whatever you feel comes from within.”
“By FSU allowing us to make these mistakes, to play in these sandboxes, I felt like I had an excellent grasp on the craft by the time production on my thesis began and was able to make something that I’m very proud of and many people seem to enjoy,” he said.
The film school functions as an industry-grade production studio, with writers’ rooms, sound stages, post-production suites, animation labs, screening rooms and more.
Ross will write and direct a full-length feature based on his thesis film with help from the Torchlight Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Torchlight educates students on business practices of the industry and provides students with internship opportunities to gain in-depth experience, which helps with post-graduation transition into Hollywood and beyond.
“From the moment James pitched this idea, we all knew it would be a blockbuster idea,” said Reb Braddock, dean of the College of Motion Picture Arts. “We are incredibly proud of James and excited to help him and his team make their feature film in affiliation with Torchlight Studios. This film will launch not only his career but the careers of many of his classmates, and we are excited to see those careers blossom.”
Ross was recognized at the 2023 Gotham Awards Ceremony on Nov. 27 in New York City.
“With both extraordinary talent and vision, these students have demonstrated clear command of the craft that will take them all very far on their filmmaking journeys,” said Jeffrey Sharp, executive director of The Gotham Film & Media Institute. “We’re thrilled to recognize each of them and are grateful for the support of our faithful partners JetBlue, Focus Features and Soho House.”
For more information, visit film.fsu.edu.