Growing up in State College, independent filmmaker David Urbanic said he wasn’t a big fan of high school, but the encouraging faculty, along with the classes, inspired him to pursue his passion in film.
His work will be shown at The State of Film Festival at The State Theatre this weekend. The festival will celebrate former State College High graduates and some Penn State alumni working in all different aspects of the film industry.
“The main reason I am on this path is because of my teachers at State High, but I feel weird saying that because I hated high school in general,” he said. “I was able to find and nurture my passion for photography and filmmaking through those classes, at that time… and started the snowball effect that would eventually lead to me becoming a full-time freelance artist.”
The festival will commemorate the works of 23 former State High graduates by screening eight feature films and 10 short films. The alumni come from all walks of the film industry, including producers, writers, directors and educators, which will be on hand to answer questions after the screening of the films.
The Executive Director of The State Theatre, Richard Biever, said this is an event to honor former State College High students and people from the past who have gone on to accomplish great things in the film industry.
“I think the festival draws awareness that there are so many people working in the professional film world from this town, and it shows the pride and awareness from the community,” Biever said. “Our primary mission is to be a home for local artists and when we can show something that has national significance created by local artists that is just the icing on the cake.”
Biever also said he believes this area is a great place for developing filmmakers to get their start with the growth of the film department at Penn State.
“The film program here is a growing program, and this is a really great place to foster people who are interested in film as a career,” Biever said,
Tyler Walk, Class of 2006,and former State College High student, has become an accomplished film editor and writer. Walk said he initially found his interest in film after being assigned to a senior project in high school. He said after high school, he took some time off, but after he saw the partner of his project succeeding in film, he went “full throttle” at Penn State.
“The professors make it worth way more than the price of tuition,” he said. “All the students would work together on each others’ films, creating a group of filmmakers that defines what it means to be an alum.”
Walk said he will be screening his film, “How to Save A Plague,” a story about HIV/AIDS in the 80s and 90s to inform younger generations about the fight against this disease.
Urbanic said he will be speaking on his films, “Function v. Emotion,” a short documentary about a Pittsburgh-based ballet company and organ transplantation and “My Caddy Won't Let Me,” a somewhat gritty look at the actual reality of life as a 365/24/7 DIY touring musician.”
Urbanic said his advice for anyone pursuing a career in film is to “do your own thing, do it well, and do it differently if you can.”
Events begin at 5 p.m. on Friday with a happy hour in The State Theatre lobby to meet and greet with some of the alumni, which is followed by a free short film screening. The festival continues through Saturday and Sunday with the full itinerary available on The State Theatre’s website.
A weekend pass for the event can be picked up for $55. Also, individual tickets for the feature films can be purchased for $6, and short films can be purchased for $4.