Savannah Film Festival 2013 takes flight


The crimson stripe of the red carpet at the perennial block party hosted by Savannah College of Art and Design to kick off the Savannah Film Festival was upstaged last night. During the Broughton Street celebration preceding the first screening of the week, revelers looked up to find a sea of 10,000 multicolored paper airplanes descending from the roof of Jen Library.

The spectacle was a nod to the bursts of color artist Rob Bliss sent hurtling from rooftops in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the 2009 ArtPrize Paper Airplane Event.

A surprise conclusion is the calling card that SCAD leaves an audience at many of its events. A glow in the dark finale, one hundred painted mattresses transformed into furniture, dozens of beach balls bouncing through Commencement. These are just a few of the memorable scenes that SCAD has created.

I got wind of the plans for this one, went looking for the brains behind the operation, and found maintenance man Ken Saunders.

Turns out that Ken has rigged some of the university’s most memorable ‘wow’ moments for 13 years now. He may just get a few sentences describing a vision and then he sets about rigging it into existence.

To pull off the cascade of airplanes last night, Ken’s team spent the week unpacking and taping thousands of airplanes that arrived as flat pieces of paper. Then there was the matter of giving them a boost. For that, Ken concocted this blower by cutting a flap in a trashcan and fitting the end of it with a fan.

His team hauled the airplanes and the blowers to Jen in a trailer, hoisting them up the side of the building and onto the library’s roof with a pulley system. They fixed seven of the improvised air cannons on top of Jen and three on top of Trustees Theater.

Ken with his nifty air cannons awaiting the signal to release the paper airplanes.

Upon receiving the signal, to the tune of “Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz, the crew dumped the bags of planes into the blowers, like elves on Christmas morning delivering wonder and awe.

Next year, or ten years from now, when the planes trigger a memory about Savannah Film Festival 2013, I hope you’ll remember Ken and his team, too.


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