“You've got to be tough, hang in there and fight the competition."
Famous Hollywood producer takes the stage at ArmstrongSee Mr. Leopold's presentation video at the bottom of this page.
Hollywood producer, local ice cream parlor owner, and former Armstrong student Stratton Leopold has enjoyed a film-making career that spans three decades and includes such hits as Mission Impossible III, The Wolfman and The General's Daughter. Born in Savannah, Leopold has worked over the span of his career with the likes of Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michelle Monaghan, Laurence Fishburne, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, and John Travolta.
Splitting his time between Los Angeles and Savannah, he can often be found scooping up ice cream at Leopold's Ice Cream, an iconic Savannah establishment that has been in his family for generations. Savannah and his ice cream parlor provide a refuge away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and serve as a way for the famous Hollywood producer to remain grounded.
On a recent morning, he took time out to visit the Armstrong campus and speak to theatre students about his experience and offer some advice for those aspiring to careers in film. He talked about the importance of networking and taking advantage of every opportunity.
He also touched upon his days at Armstrong.
“I remember Armstrong being downtown and there was Jenkins Hall behind the main building. It was much smaller then, but we did have a radio station,” he said.
Initially Leopold wanted to follow in his brother's steps and become a medical doctor, but a trip to New York, where he first encountered the business of filmmaking, changed that.
“This is a business that is built on networking,” indicating that many of the people he met in New York City decades ago still are contacts he works with. After New York City, Leopold spent 12 years in Atlanta learning the movie industry before landing in California.
“The most important thing for you as students is that you get experience on a piece of work and add your name to it.”
He suggested that students look for opportunities locally, get involved in short films and get to know people already in the business.
“You've got to be tough, hang in there and fight the competition,” he said.
Jessica Armstrong, a sophomore majoring in theatre, welcomed the opportunity to hear from one of Hollywood's experienced producers.
“It really helped getting inside information from him,” said Armstrong. “I love theatre but I'm looking at getting into film. Hearing from him was a really nice surprise.”