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Thursday, May 13, 2021

A night of music and film

Nestled at the far end of The Outback Farm in Fairhaven College, the Outback Amphitheatre’s stage provided a home for the sound system and screen Conor O’Keefe had set up hours before.

Despite the heavy mid-afternoon rain on Friday, April 3, people attended O’Keefe’s senior project for film production studies, the Walking Distance Kickback, at the Amphitheatre.

This kickback was a seedling to O’Keefe’s senior project to promote his artistic collective “Walking Distance.”

Video by Randee Matthews

O’Keefe is planning to graduate with a degree in film production studies and cultural audience. O’Keefe defines his major as producing films and studying how audiences from different cultures react to and perceive films, and what effects the films have on culture.

Composed chiefly of various artistic performances from Western students with musical sets and film premieres, the show was an eclectic mix of creative ingenuity from the performers.

A flow of people started coming from the trails surrounding the Amphitheatre once the music had started. Some people who had not even heard of the event were summoned by the microphone to come off the street and enjoy the complimentary hot chocolate and tea.

“We were a little bit worried that nobody would show up,” O’Keefe said. “But we had people coming in and it was very interesting.”

DJs such as Taylor Ross and Western student Nico Sanchez took the stage with sets focused on rap and electronica, adding in some remixes of popular songs.

The music attracted enough people to have a constant flow of around 40 people throughout the night. People brought dogs, a tightrope and even had a bubble performance: the makings of a tiny festival.

Dylan Driscoll, a computer science student and friend of O’Keefe, warmed up the crowd during breaks with jokes and was responsible for bringing passers-by to the show. Driscoll considered the diverse crowd to be fitting for the theme of the show.

“There were a bunch of people from outside their realm that joined in, and that was the best part for me,” Driscoll said.

After an original rap performance by Matt Doval, otherwise known as Matt D, O’Keefe prepared the stage for a short film viewing.

The humor in the films kept the public on its feet and receptive. The first was a rap music video directed by O’Keefe himself and Jake Greenwood. Complete with ski masks, it served as an introduction to the films that followed it.

The first frame in Tommy Heffernan’s film was the dictionary definition of “auteur.” Heffernan, a junior majoring in creative writing, played himself in a comedic duo of two filmmakers with subpar equipment scrambling to make a movie, find a cast as well as glory, all with a “fake it ‘til you make it” approach.

The video was based on the idea of creative people trying to make it in the film industry while also having fun pursuing their dreams, Heffernan said.

Julianna Fischer, a junior majoring in environmental policy, was surprised to see how the crowd had developed throughout the evening through the diverse performances.

To lure people in, O’Keefe played popular music, slowly mixing in original performances.

“[The artists] represent Western in the way that they differ from the norm,” Fischer said.

Fischer believes Western represents an artistic community that prides itself in being able to include everyone in a show.

O’Keefe attempted to supply a diverse range of performers.

“We were about to have a jam band, but we didn’t set it up in time,” O’Keefe said. “We had open mic, which included a rapper who just stumbled upon the event.”

At around 10 p.m. after the crowd had dissolved and the mic had been turned off, O’Keefe began clearing the stage and wrapping up the equipment. A light rain began to fall again, marking the end of the calm weather the animated show had performed in.

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