Opening Night

Chris is the drama director for a high school production of 'The Dark Knight: The Musical', and the show is falling apart. In order to heighten the drama between his leads, Chris begins a series of manipulations to pit them against each other. The thirst for a standing ovation leads him down a dark path on a violent night the audience will never forget.

Disclaimer: The use of copyrighted material in this film for the purpose of parody constitutes as “fair use” In accordance with section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976. UConn students created and distributed this film for no profit.

  • Ryan Glista
    Director
  • Ken Asada
    Writer
  • Regan Kilkenny
    Producer
  • Jacob Rodier
    Producer
  • Darren Lee Brown
    Key Cast
  • Coleman Churchill
    Key Cast
  • Jenn Sapozhnikov
    Key Cast
  • Patrick Purcell
    Cinematography
  • Ryan Glista
    Music
  • Project Type:
    Short
  • Genres:
    Dark Comedy, Musical
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    October 25, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    2.35:1
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    Yes
  • NewFilmmakers New York
    New York
    United States
    January 17, 2018
    Official Selection
  • Film Shortage - Short of the Week

    October 25, 2017
  • Hollywood Just4Shorts
    Los Angeles, California
    Best Comedy Short
  • UConn Short Film Exhibition
    Storrs, Connecticut
    April 27, 2018
  • Canadian International Comedy Film Festival
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Canada
    February 9, 2019
    Jury Select Winner
  • UCFilm Festival
    Storrs, Connecticut
    United States
    May 4, 2019
    Official Selection
  • Canadian Diversity Film Festival
    Toronto, Ontario
    Canada
    August 9, 2019
    Best Student Film
Director Biography - Ryan Glista

Ryan Glista is a filmmaker, composer, and digital media producer based in Connecticut with a BA in Film and an MFA in Digital Media & Design from the University of Connecticut. Ryan has written, directed, filmed and edited over 300 films and video shorts since the age of 12, starting out by posting on YouTube under the production name 'GBT Productions'. He has since founded the UConn Film Club, teaching cinema production and leading teams of students in creating short films.

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Director Statement

Opening Night is the first film I directed for my thesis project as a graduate student at the University of Connecticut. I also served as producer, editor, colorist and composer on the project. I led a team of 14 undergraduate students to produce our first short film: a dark musical comedy. I developed the story in a writer’s room of 3-5 other students. Exploring the absurd drama of youth theater was particularly exciting to me, as that was a world I lived and breathed for most of my younger years. The idea I latched onto early on was approaching the story of a show gone wrong from the theater director’s perspective. Similar narratives often come from the perspective of the kids/performers- High School Musical and Glee come to mind immediately as inspirations, but I was interested in having a director be our protagonist instead.

Other narratives that inspired me were those of the tortured and obsessed artists in Black Swan and Whiplash. In both these films, the protagonist strives to perfect their art, and this is ultimately their downfall. I wanted to marry this dark, psychological character type with the small-stakes, colorful world of a high school musical. I call the tone of Opening Night a “dark farce”. I was interested in capturing the desperation of an artist in a mundane, absurd environment. Drama teachers at high schools take their shows ridiculously seriously, and I took advantage of the comedy and satire in that. Other influences in story and tone included Birdman and Waiting for Guffman.

During production, I composed three original songs to accompany scenes in the film, and recorded the songs with the actors in the DMD sound studio. Later, I would compose five more songs to play during other scenes, completing a full album of 8 songs which I released on SoundCloud. Each song was written in a different genre: from rap, to country, to pop ballad, I purposefully composed a chaotic mix to emphasize the absurdity of the show.