Every year, student musicians across the state and country fight it out to be part of the Penn State Blue Band.
"When I saw a Penn State football game in 2001, I knew I wanted to be a part of [the Blue Band]," Christopher Garguilo, a Blue Band trumpet player, said.
Garguilo (freshman-business administration) and seven other Blue Band hopefuls were followed in an hour-long documentary called Making the Blue Band, which reveals the auditions, cuts and grueling days spent in band camp in order to have a shot at making the revered group.
The documentary, produced by Penn State Public Broadcasting, will premiere at 8 tonight on WPSX and WPSUDT2. The piece will also run in December, but the date is yet to be determined.
According to Penn State Public Broadcasting, more than 200 freshmen audition for the Penn State Blue Band and less than half make it each year.
Matthew Sabo (junior-economics), a Blue Band drum major, was featured in the documentary as the drum major, but not an auditioning member.
He said the tryout process begins with an initial music audition, in which the person selects a piece to audition with. Then they are asked to do some sight-reading -- on the spot playing of a composition they have never seen before. If someone makes it past this part, they join in on the days of fast-paced marching drills, he said.
A regular day of marching tryouts consists of an early morning start, doing drills until about 9 or 10 at night with a lunch and dinner break, Sabo said.
"Marching-wise, it was a completely new experience. I had never picked up my feet when marching before," he said.
Garguilo said the process was nerve-racking, but that he felt confident because he had previously done auditions for other bands. He also said the most difficult part was marching.
"It's frustrating because it's new at first," he said.
Auditioning for the position of majorette is slightly different. The tryouts last for one day and those auditioning complete tryouts in April, said Michele Sassano (sophomore-education), a current first-year majorette and featured member of the Blue Band in the documentary.
"I've always wanted to be a majorette," she said, "I've been twirling since I was little."
The tryout consists of performing the pregame show, learning a new routine in the afternoon and then performing it, Sassano said.
Being filmed was a little awkward in the beginning, Garguilo said, but everyone seemed excited about it.
Sassano said the film crew came up to her during auditions and asked if they could ask her a few questions and things progressed from there.
When Sabo was interviewed for the documentary, he was new to the experience of being a drum major, he said. That summer he started practicing the signature Blue Band drum major flip.
"You can't really prepare for it," he said "I tried to get down the front flip and went to [a] gymnastics gym. I borrowed the drum major uniform to practice the flip in it."
The Blue Band got a special preview of the film this past Saturday and was excited to view the documentary, Garguilo said.
The documentary will shed light on the intense tryout process of making the Blue Band and all the work it takes to be a part of it, Sassano said.
"You only have two weeks to learn a show before you perform it in front of 110,000 people," Sassano said. "So I don't think many people get to see behind the scenes."
Sabo said the Blue Band's tradition and the emotions tied to the band automatically make it an interesting film to watch.
"Any documentary on the Blue Band is going to be interesting," Sabo said.