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Animation faculty, students and alum collaborated to animate a film that will screen at the 17th Annual Tribeca Film Festival

By April 5, 2018Animation

The Tribeca Film Institute has announced the films that will screen at the 17th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, and the lineup includes a documentary animated by a team that included Villa Maria College students, alumni and faculty.

The Velvet Underground Played at My High School is an animated short about American rock band The Velvet Underground’s first gig in 1965 in front of a crowd of shocked kids at Summit High School in Union County, New Jersey.

The film recalls the first-hand experience of 16-year-old Anthony Jannelli, who co-directed, wrote and produced the project.  Jannelli was a sophomore when The Velvet Underground took the stage in his high school for its first public performance. In addition to being one of his first concerts, it was the first time he witnessed booing, shock, horror and bewilderment in response to music.

The Velvet Underground Played at My High School combines hand-drawn and 2D computer animation techniques in a simple, graphic, and graffiti-like style (or zine-style) that reflects the texture of the mid-1960’s.

Lee Terwilliger, an instructor of animation at Villa Maria College, served as the film’s lead animator. Terwilliger, who is also a 2014 graduate of the College’s animation program, said the film’s success was years in the making.

“The original version of this film was created in just about two months, which was rushed,” he said. “We started it in January 2016 and had to have the first version, which was 5 minutes and 20 seconds long, completed by March 20 in order to have it shown at Le Philharmonie de Paris in Paris, France.”

Although the film’s debut lasted more than six months, the filmmakers were not completely happy with it. “After Paris, we went back to work. We definitely wanted to expand it. We added in better art and more animation to create a second version that was 7 minutes and 24 seconds long. We are excited about the final cut and look forward to seeing how it is received by the critics and audiences at Tribeca.”

Terwilliger’s supervised a group of 12 animators, several of which are linked to Villa Maria College. Also involved in the production of The Velvet Underground Played at My High School were Valery Amborski, an adjunct faculty member and a 2014 graduate of Villa’s animation program, Sean Bodkin, ’14, Brian Winkler, ’14, Christina Cronmiller, ’15, Kevin Fan, ’17, Jenna Zielkiewicz, ’19, and Kristen Dolinar, ’20. Jonathan Cone, a former instructor of animation at Villa, was also part of the animation team.

The Velvet Underground Played at My High School had a zero dollar budget, so no one was paid,” said Terwilliger. “However, this opportunity was huge for students. Just having your name on a film screened at Tribeca, an Oscar qualifier, will stand out to grad schools, employers and the animation community as a whole.”

“It’s really important for students to take on unpaid opportunities and use them as a chance to make really valuable connections,” he continued. “To succeed in this field, you have to make connections. You have to go out and network and meet people who may need you.”

The 2018 Tribeca Film Festival will take place April 18-29. The Velvet Underground Played at My High School screens on Saturday, April 21 at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 24 at 6:00 p.m., Friday April 27 at 3:45 p.m., and Saturday, April 28 at 4:15 p.m.

In addition to screening at The Tribeca Film Festival, The Velvet Underground Played at My High School will also screen at Cinequest, Sonoma International Film Festival, Florida International Film Festival, and Animafest Zagreb.

View the official Trailer for The Velvet Underground Played at My High School here

For more information about Villa Maria College’s animation program, visit