A group of digital filmmaking students gathered in J. Lee’s lounge on Thursday night, serving pizza and selling merchandise while hosting a video game tournament aimed at raising money for their Web Series Production class, a yearly course offered at Ramapo compelling students to produce an online mini-series featuring an original script.
The class, commonly referred to as simply “web series,” is well known on campus, especially among undergraduates in the College’s theater and filmmaking programs, many of whom turn out in droves to see the premiere of each year’s respective series.
Janine McCaffrey, a senior Communication Arts major enrolled in the current web series course, estimates attendance of previous premieres has reached over 200, and hopes this year’s will be no different.
“It’s a big thing for Communication Arts,” McCaffrey said, as her classmates carried pizza and bottles of soda into the commuter lounge. “It’s not just a film. It’s a five-part series that is going to have an impact and stay with people.”
McCaffrey explained the premise of this year’s project, titled "Free Play.”
“The entire series is video game themed, stylistically. It’s going to have a lot of graphics and references to classic games, like ‘Sonic,’” she said.
“‘Free Play’ is about a guy who’s fed up with his relationship,” McCaffrey continued. “When he confronts his boyfriend, he gives him a free pass to go out, and the boyfriend Miles meets a girl named Sam.”
Senior Trendel Lightburn stood near the entrance to J. Lee’s, monitoring a table at which attendees paid an entry fee and purchased “Free Play” merchandise, which included pins and T-shirts showcasing the web series’ logo of a cartoon joystick controller. According to McCaffrey, all profits made from the event would go toward covering the cost of props and food for the web series’ cast and crew.
Lightburn described the thought process behind the script of “Free Play.”
“Collectively, we figured we wanted to make something that mattered,” Lightburn said.
“Something good, something that’s never been done before. It’s got comedy, drama — a little bit of everything.”
“I’m a big fan of the old stuff,” Lightburn continued, highlighting the video games which influenced his own approach to the web series.
“I still dust off and play my GameCube. I’m a big fan of the old games: ‘Sonic Adventure,’ ‘Sonic Adventure 2,’ ‘Street Fighter,’ all the retro stuff,” he said.
Senior Theresa Pascrell attended the event, competing in the “Super Smash Bros.” with several of her friends.
“I knew some friends were going to be here, and I wanted to see them and support a fundraiser,” Pascrell said.
“I’m a fan of ‘Smash.’ I don’t own a system older than a GameCube,” said Pascrell, who shares the “Free Play” creators’ love of retro gaming.
Josh Rosado, a junior, also attended the fundraiser, which he viewed as a great way to spend time with his friends. However, Rosado didn’t participate in the tournament:
“I’m with my friends to play ‘Smash,’ so I’m here to offer moral support,” he said.
“Free Play” will premier sometime in early December. According to McCaffrey, the class will devote over 30 hours a week to the series throughout November, in order to finish “Free Play” in time.