Duly, Matt and Aaron Toronto rode into the State College premiere of their film The Pact on "man-sized" tricycles.
Matt explained, "When we rented the red carpet, there were these man-sized tricycles that were just sitting there, calling out to us. We started riding them around the store while we were waiting for them to get our carpet ready, and my brother said, 'We need to enter on these!' And so we rented them that day, spur of the moment."
Matt's wife Jordan Toronto, who plays the local bartender in The Pact, didn't even know about the tricycles until she saw them enter the State Theatre for the premiere on Saturday, March, 31st (The Pact ran at the State Theatre until Wednesday, April 4th with a different set of student films showing as previews on each night). I got a taste of more student films at the Student Film Organization's (SFO) Blue and White Film Festival on Sunday the 22nd, but more on that later.
First, on Saturday, the members of Blue in the Face (BITF), one of Penn State's A Cappella groups, premiered their 2012 CD. Blue in the Face filled 105 Forum with smoke and purple-blue lighting. I filed into the full house with 15 of my closest art appreciating friends for the two-hour show.
Some in the audience had signs, since BITF's spring concert also functions as an end of year celebration for its senior members, but my two rows had 16 (including me) pairs of hands to clap and hoot and holler for Ravi Shah, BITF's resident vocal percussionist. Also a member of the Blue Band's drum line, Ravi provided a well-timed and adaptable backbone to each song BITF covered, including a dub step vocal approximation in the song "Louder."
The 2012 concert felt especially special to all the seniors, who started their time at Penn State at the same time as Blue in the Face formed in 2008. The class of 2012 is the first official class of BITF-ers. Many of its senior members had a hand in starting the vocal group and have been with BITF since its inception. Audience members and performers alike could feel the magic of the last night for the senior singers.
Blue and White Sunday, Penn State student film makers had the same chance to say "See what we have accomplished in our time at Penn State." SFO filled the State Theatre for a three and a half hour festival featuring over 17 films. The audience responded instinctively to their classmates' films, laughing at the funny parts and gasping at the scary parts. I must say that "Sins of Another" really got my knees bunched and knuckles linked. I peeked through braided fingers to watch their supernatural mini-thriller.
But the real stand-outs of the night were the animated films and the documentaries. For student films with limited production resources, using a concentrated topic enables the film to succeed. "Specs," an animation sublime in its efficient execution, features a guy who'd rather remain in his room with his imagination - through the lenses of his glasses his drawings come alive - than go out with a friend. I only fault the sound production for providing muffled lines of dialogue slightly incongruent to, and made redundant by, the subtitles for the speech. But visually, "Specs" was a well put together short.
Of course, I can't not mention the perfect animated short, "Space for Sale," directed by Alyssa Timoteo. This short was one of the student films I saw as a preview to Matt Toronto's The Pact. Alyssa created a focused plot, compiling five reasons why monsters don't live under your bed. She employed paper made characters in stop-motion animation to illustrate the monster under the bed in each example. She has a compact sense of humor that expresses itself perfectly in a short film. One hilarious rationale for monsters not wanting under-the-bed real estate: Humans are messy. The blue kidney-shaped monster then runs back and forth under the bed, toting a trash can to catch the pizza and dirty sock discarded by the unicorn-shirt wearing, human inhabitant of the room.
SFO's Blue and White Film Festival closed the night with a handful of documentaries. Kelsey Hoffman provided a good range of interviews in her "Adam, Meet Eve," a film that sought to dissect male-female relationships. She featured herself and two friends with their boyfriends, as well as Penn State professors of psychology and sociology, plus a doctoral candidate in women's studies.
Caitlin Keller provided the most entertaining documentary of the night, and again I will compliment the topic choice. Her documentary, "On Tour with My Hero Zero," followed the State College cover band with a hefty following among Penn State students. Keller even had on stage footage of the band playing at THON 2012. Many in the audience had seen this band play live, so they felt especially connected to the short film. And it didn't hurt that the guys in the band were that right blend of quirky and charismatic.
Over the course of Blue and White weekend, I saw many Penn Staters taking stock of their time here with their overarching presentations of their work. No wonder, when you consider the kernel of the Penn State Blue and White tradition; Penn State's annual Blue and White football game has a complex scoring method not seen in any usual game of Nittany Lions football. Since the Offense plays the Defense, each team must play their usual role plus a little extra outside their comfort zone to score points.
In fact, haven't we all done that with our time at Penn State? Performed our usual role - in my case as an English student - plus a little extra - here a hat tip from your campus arts blogger of three semesters. On May 5th, I, and thousands of others, will graduate from Penn State. This Blue and White weekend, I took stock of my time here, and I've had four valuable years. Hats off to the Class of 2012, I hope you all continue to pursue your own arts!