Queen’s graduate documents Aberdeen Street party

Film shot this weekend will show different perspectives on Aberdeen, director says

An estimated 5,000 to 6,500 party-goers crowded onto Aberdeen Street Saturday night.
An estimated 5,000 to 6,500 party-goers crowded onto Aberdeen Street Saturday night.

It’s arguably the most talked-about university street party in Ontario. Now, the phenomenon that is the annual Aberdeen Street party will be immortalized on film.

Colin Sharp, ArtSci ’05, spent Homecoming in Kingston along with Brianne Perez, ArtSci ’05, and 10 volunteers wielding four cameras, filming footage for Aberdeen Street, a documentary film he’s directing about the party and its effect on the Queen’s and Kingston community.

Sharp, who works as an interactive developer for GJP Advertising in Toronto, decided to capture the events of Homecoming weekend because of the attention the event has recieved.

Homecoming 2005’s Aberdeen Street party culminated a car being flipped and set on fire as thousands of people crowded onto the street.

“I knew that it had always been a big deal in Kingston and got a lot of attention in the news,” he said. “I just thought there was an interesting story to tell.”

Sharp said he didn’t know what to expect going into the weekend, but had been following news reports leading up to Homecoming weekend.

“I was hoping it would be safe and under control. I live in Toronto, but I’ve been reading the reports that police and the media have been putting out,” he said. “With all the construction, it seemed a bit worrisome, but they seemed pretty prepared for it.”

Sharp said the film crew went to Ritual at Clark Hall Pub, the football game, in and around Aberdeen Street and to pancake keggers in the Ghetto. They talked to students, residents, and the Queen’s administration.

“We were talking to them trying to capture a sense of what went on, what they were doing, what their thoughts were and if they were going to Aberdeen,” he said. “We asked people about the incident with the car two years ago and if people were there for that as well.” Sharp said he found Aberdeen Street on Saturday night relatively tame, even with the estimated 5,000 to 6,500 people that crowded the street. “It seemed pretty under control. Police presence was apparent, but they were keeping things under control. It’s hard to explain it, because there were so many people there and it was so condensed,” he said. “It’s bigger than I remembered it.”

Sharp first experienced Homecoming as a student in 2001.

“The first year I went, I don’t remember it being as big or as many people,” he said. “I certainly don’t remember that big of a police presence.”

As one of the few sober people on Aberdeen Street on Saturday, Sharp said he had a colourful experience interacting with partygoers.

“It was tough to talk to people because it was so loud, but most people were interested,” he said. “We weren’t having in-depth interviews. That wasn’t really the time for that.”

Sharp said he’s not sure how long the film will be, but aims to tell the story in the most interesting way possible.

“It’s going to be long enough to tell the story as best we can without making it boring,” he said. “It’s just an independent project, so we’re doing the best we can. If it’s 20 minutes, that’s great. If it’s a feature length, that’s even better.” Sharp said he is unsure of what the total cost of production will amount to.

“The numbers aren’t totally in yet,” he said. “In terms of manpower, my crew are working for free.” Sharp said he’s aiming for the film to be finished by early 2008 and wants to enter the film in the Kingston Canadian Film Festival.

“If that doesn’t work, timing-wise, I think we’ll set something up to screen it for people who want to see more about it,” he said. “If people check the website, updates about when all of this is happening will be posted there.”

Sharp said there will be a number of perspectives on Homecoming and the Aberdeen Street party covered in the film, but he wants viewers to make up their own minds.

“We just wanted to bring it all together to get a complete picture of how it affects the community,” he said. “We’ll let the audience decide for themselves.”

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