Dave Ricci ’04, ’15, and ‘19, on Filmmaking, Policy, and Craft Breweries

Put simply, Dave Ricci had a very exciting summer. But more on that later. For anticipation’s sake, we’ll start from the beginning. Originally calling the northern town of Smithfield, Rhode Island, home, Ricci graduated from La Salle Academy in Providence with a clear goal in mind. “I wanted to attend URI to play hockey undergraduate,” he says. “My dad also has a history degree from URI, and my mom got her master’s there. I wanted to keep playing hockey, and I knew they had a good liberal arts program.”

As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and Ricci entered his first year at URI as a history major. “I always really enjoyed studying history in high school and even in middle school,” he says. “I was also very close to my grandpa, who was a World War II veteran, and I always liked talking with him about his experiences, so I knew going in that I wanted to study history.” Now cue the 2000 presidential election: Al Gore vs. George Bush, Jr. Watching the election run its course piqued his interest, and Ricci decided to try out a couple political science classes his sophomore year. Needless to say, he loved it, and Ricci graduated in 2004 with a double major in history and political science. 

Some time later, Ricci found himself back in Smithfield working at his father’s factory. Enter his brother, an alum of Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. “We decided to come up with a t-shirt company that also offered more services,” he states, “So we made Eleven Marketing, which works out of Providence.” On top of his new business venture, Ricci had changed careers, working as a history and government teacher at La Salle. In addition, while doing all of this, he had gone back to URI, working towards his master’s in political science, which he graduated with in 2015. 

His newfound political connections brought him to the main part of this story. “In 2017, I stumbled on an organization looking for content,” he says. “It was a craft beer company, and I knew craft beer was exploding. So I sat down and talked with them about doing a documentary about it.” After contacting and interviewing multiple brewers around the state, Ricci compiled an hour-long documentary that ties local brewers to political policies. The film, titled The Craft, explores the development of the Rhode Island craft brew industry and the battles against the distributor lobby to pass laws allowing the industry to succeed. Ricci had big dreams for the film, dreams that would soon bloom into fruition: “We submitted the film to the Rhode Island International Film Festival, and we got accepted this past June,” he says. “The world premiere was in August, and we were awarded the grand prize.” 

Achieving something he hadn’t even conceived of almost two decades ago when his college career began, Ricci was incredibly excited to both land a Hollywood agent and graduate from URI’s esteemed Master’s of Public Administration program in the very same summer, a feat he credits to Professors Marc Hutchinson and Aaron Ley for guiding him through. As for his next documentary idea, Ricci states that he’d like to focus on electoral security pertaining to the impending 2020 election by concentrating on local members of Congress. 

For the time being, however, Ricci lives in Providence and is going into his fifteenth year as a teacher at La Salle, and the advice he gives to incoming Arts and Sciences students is the same he gives to his own students: “There’s a lot of pressure nowadays to have a plan, and what’s lost locally and globally is the fact that people don’t think critically enough and don’t ask questions enough. People think in the short term rather than letting things play out the way they want to take you. And people need to stop worrying about getting the biggest paycheck. The money will come if you do what you’re passionate about.”

The trailer for Dave’s documentary film The Craft can be seen here.

~Written by Chase Hoffman, Writing & Rhetoric and Anthropology Double Major, URI Class of 2021