Student Film Premieres at Colonial Theatre

Tune Out: A Comedy Musical Film about Depression, by Tom Armstrong ’20, was screened at the historic theater in Phoenixville on Feb. 11.

Tune Out tells the story of Ken (played by Claire Hughes ’20) who suffers from depression, and her individual experience working at a shoe store. The plot details the unconventional situation between Ken and her coworkers, especially when those characters suddenly break into song and dance. The film deals with themes of depression, dissociation and anxiety through Ken’s perspective.

The film’s debut at the historical Colonial Theatre is something that both reflects the interconnectedness of the community, as well as the meaningfulness of the opportunity, Armstrong says.  

“It’s going to feel like an honor or an accident, like I snuck in with a bunch of friends and popped my movie in the projector before they sic the guards on me,” he jokes.

Armstrong says the film could not have been made without the help and collaboration of multiple people, from the actors, music composers, sound operators and editors, to the theater professors Meghan Brodie and Domenick Scudera and the U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies.   

He expressed that it was an honor to work with the range of students, faculty and community members, from the entire cast and crew to the production and post-production process.  

“The most rewarding parts were definitely working with other people,” he says. “That’s the absolute best, being able to love what you’re doing and getting other people to love it, too.”

From the work behind the scenes and onscreen, the interactive negotiation between individual perspective and community engagement was crucial. Armstrong noted the importance of every person who helped him bring the project from paper to the big screen.

On the film’s themes, Armstrong expressed concern with representing Ken, saying, “It’s not going to look like everyone’s experience with depression. On the same note, I hope Ken is not a stereotypical character because she’s someone with specific fixations and difficulties. As a result, the film has a lot to do with dissociation, anxiety and obsession with death and the passage of time.”

Armstrong’s previous works include directing The Playground and In-Laws, Outlaws, and Other People that Should Be Shot, which was performed by the theater group Playcrafters. His next big project is Higher Education, a satire on social practices in academia.    

In responding to the rewards of works on different projects, he said, “I feel much more confident in my ability to not only direct, but also write and perform in comedy.”  

On his Colonial Theatre debut, he said, “I’m definitely going to wear a tux.”

Donations were accepted to benefit the Treatment Advocacy Center, which provides mental healthcare services to those who do not have access.—By Madison Bradley ’18