Andy Shipsides, BSDAS 2003, works as the President of ARRI Rental, North America. His company works with camera, grip, and lighting equipment for the digital industry. After Andy graduated from the University of Florida, he studied Film and Television at the Savannah College of Art and Design. From there, he gained over 15 years of experience in product management, industry training, and executive roles until his current position.
In what ways did your Digital Arts and Sciences experience prepare you for your career?
When I went into the program, I had a lot of background in programming and computer science from high school but wasn’t really into the arts. I liked movies and visual effects and all that, but I didn’t really know my place in it. Once I went into the program, I found I loved it — it was a mix, you know, a hybrid where I could be a computer scientist and explore artistry at the same time. This got me into filmmaking and I really went down that path, going to grad school for film afterward. I continue to have a career that allows me to get into very technical roles in the film business. When I really entered the industry out of school, there was a real cut-over to digital cinema, and so I was on the forefront of that because of this [Digital Worlds] background. I had the knowledge from school to essentially handle traditional analog filmmakers jumping over to this digital cinema thing and say “I’m different.”
What do you like about your current career?
I love that while I’m in a management position, I’m still very much involved with creative technologies in the industry and building the future of that area. At my current company, we build digital cinema cameras, work in lighting, and are at the forefront of building and creating new technologies that plug into the industry. So yeah, it’s 100% that combination of technology and being close to creative people that I like.
What are some of your favorite memories from when you were in the program?
We were doing an anniversary [project] for the school, helping create a graphic commercial piece to promote [Digital Worlds]. I had gotten into filmmaking and worked with cameras mostly. We were trying to film this one shot, a scene where we digitally went into a building, went through the building, and came out the other side. We didn’t have a steady camera or anything, so Dr. Oliverio got a wheelchair and I got a camera, and we rolled it through the school. And he pushed it!
What advice would you give to current students?
To explore things that you’re not comfortable with. Filmmaking was [initially] not something I was interested in at all. I was a computer programmer, making games and stuff like that. But within the program, I got exposed to a different path than I thought I was going to be my whole life. I still love to code, but this pathway let me go in another direction that I never would have done before. Don’t be afraid to explore different parts of artistry because there’s always a connection back into the technology you love. That sort of right-brain left-brain thing makes me successful and makes a lot of people successful.