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“October Roses” gives campus audience a frightful scare at its premiere

Annemarie Karabinus
A poster from the October Roses premier on October, Friday the 13th, 2023.

Kent graduate Brandon Lazenko’s short film “October Roses” premiered Oct. 13 in the Kiva Auditorium as a part of the university’s Division of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement’s October event.

Attendees like Kent alumni William Hendricks were eager to attend the reception before the premiere because of the effort put into organizing the event and the showcasing of alumnus’ work. 

“Everything that goes on at Kent State now is top-notch,” Hendricks said. “Just knowing that something like this is being put on, I appreciate, I enjoy what Kent State does.”

Scott Hallgren, associate digital media professor, said he chose to attend the event because he taught Lazenko’s feature film course.

“I thought it would be important for a faculty member to attend this event to show our support for alums,” Hallgren said. “We have so many alums in the project that are working in the industry whether it’s here, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, Chicago or London.”

Attending local filmmakers’ events is part of the support the university aims to offer through its digital media production program as Cleveland is now the 12th location for shooting film and television projects, Hallgren said. 

“It’s exciting to see all of these people coming out to support local films, which is the entire goal of our program, to try to make sure we give our support, advice and education to the greater Cleveland film community,” Hallgren said.

The post-movie discussion panel featured cast and crew from the October Roses premiere on Oct., Friday the 13th, 2023. From left to right: Director Brandon Lazenko and Writer Michael Doerge (Annemarie Karabinus)

The cast and crew of the short film also reacted positively to the event, said Jasmine Pennino, the Division of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement’s events manager. 

“I’ve talked to some of the cast and crew and they’re really pleased with everything so far,” Pennino said. “Down to the reception, we had a pre-screening earlier today and they’re really happy with some of the changes that we’ve made with the soundboard and we changed things to the projector screen to make things look better for the video.” 

Not all cast and crew saw the film before its premiere, one of those being Robert Kurtzman, co-executive producer of the film, and makeup and effects department head for the film. Kurtzman said he was proud of the parts of the film he saw.

“I’ve seen almost the final and I was really impressed, I thought the whole thing came together really well,” Kurtzman said. “Great performances, great atmosphere, great cinematography, the writing’s great you know, everything came together cohesively so I’m proud to have [Kurtzman and Marcy King’s] names on it.”

When the reception ended attendees made their way to the Kiva to watch the short film’s premiere. 

There were over 80 people in attendance virtually for the premiere, discussion and panel, Pennino said. 

Before the movie began, Lazenko, director, and co-producer of “October Roses,” made his way to the podium in front of the screen to address the audience and immerse them in the environment of the film.

“Tonight, we welcome you to embrace the darkness, to confront your deepest fears and to dive into the chilling world created by the master of horror himself, Stephen King,” Lazenko said.

Lazenko then expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to create a short film inspired by one of King’s works.

“To adopt his work for the silver screen is a privilege and a responsibility that I hold with the utmost reverence,” Lazenko said. “‘October Roses’ represents a labor of love, a testament to the power of collaboration and a celebration of the magic of cinema.”

After the film, Dave Dreher, co-editor and co-founder of “Gruesome Magazine,” led a discussion panel composed of Shelby Wyant-Lazenko; co-producer and co-writer; Michael Doerge, co-writer; Marcy King, co-executive producer, makeup and makeup effects department head; Matthew Weitz, who portrayed Adam; Matthew Petrunak, director of photography.

Towards the end of the panel, attendees were able to directly ask those on the panel their questions.

The post-movie discussion panel featuring cast and crew from the October Roses premiere on October, Friday the 13th, 2023. From left to right: Shelby Wyant-Lazenko, Michael Doerge, Marcy King, Robert Kurtzman, Matthew Weitz (Annemarie Karabinus)

One of the questions proposed was what Lazenko and those on the panel planned on doing next.

Lazenko said there is a possibility of he and Wyant-Lazenko collaborating again with Kurtzman and Marcy King for a future project.

“We talked today about at lunch, the Kurtzmans and the Lazenkos decided we might join forces again and tackle another story,” Lazenko said. “I think moving forward, I will retire from short films and move directly to creating features.”

Adriana Gasiewski is a staff reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

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About the Contributors
Adriana Gasiewski, Staff Reporter
Adriana is a sophomore majoring in journalism with minors in Italian and creative writing. Before becoming a staff reporter, she was a general assignment reporter last semester. She enjoys writing about current events and issues that Kent students face. Adriana is a second-year member of Her Campus, where she serves as Philanthropy and Community Events Coordinator, and she is a member of the editorial team. Contact her at [email protected].
Annemarie Karabinus, Photographer, Opinion Writer
Annemarie is a broadcast journalism major with a creative writing minor. She also is the Marketing Director at Black Squirrel Radio, a reporter for TV2's "the Blurb" and a cast member on TV2's 'All Systems Go." She is a photographer and opinion writer for Kentwired, and she hopes to one day be a news anchor on CNN. Contact her at [email protected]

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