Senior tradition sparks mini-series idea


2021 PV Alumni Tyler Toledo has written and directed a mini-series called, “Water Wars.” The series casts other PV alum and current PV students and is based on the game, Senior Assassin.

Sarah Buttikofer, Editor in Chief

One of the many end-of-the-year senior traditions is a game in which most seniors partake: Senior Assassin. The game includes teams of three people with each person receiving a target, while also having a target on their back. These teams try to eliminate each other by spraying their targets with water guns, with the goal to eventually be the last team standing.

“It was a crazy day, a lot of things happened in that game,” Tyler Toledo said. “I still have a scar on my knee from playing it. It was just, it was a very eventful year for us.”

Toledo and Anakin Rybacki were sitting in the car after a long day of the game senior assassin when Rybacki unknowingly sparked an idea that Toledo immediately pursued.

Rybacki commented “this is enough to be like a TV show” and from there Toledo began the screenwriting process.

“This whole thing started when I was still on PVTV in Mr. Sherman’s class, and he is the one that greenlit the idea,” Toledo said. “Even after graduating, since it all began there, it’s still affiliated since Sherman has given me equipment. He’s given me microphones and tripods and let me film in the school and whatnot. We do more of the creative stuff, and I go through him with a lot of it.”

Now Toledo works at the Syracuse University Newspaper, where he attends, as an assistant video editor.

“I didn’t go into applying to colleges thinking I wanted to major in film, because I thought it felt kind of risky, so I went in and applied for literally everything else,” Toledo said. “Afterward, I realized this is definitely something I like to think I’m good at and I have a passion for, so I’m looking into transferring into their communications program.”

The mini-series cast includes PV alumni Kyle Towey, Sean Fei, Anakin Rybacki, Anna Schneider, Matt Kim, Matthew McCambridge, Jack Misha, and current PV students Kelly Donlan, Abigail Lange, Aidan Rybacki. Towey co-stars as Mark and Fei co-stars as Nathan.

“Mark is, he’s your every man. He’s just a kid who’s pretty shy, doesn’t believe in himself much,” Towey said. “When he gets thrown into this, story, he was not very excited about it. So, you have to see how he sort of adjusts to it and you see him really become who he is meant to be.”

They started filming when Fei and Towey auditioned for the roles in June.

While the mini-series was a first experience at acting for Fei, Towey was glad to return to acting since he had previously made the decision to pursue music.

“I play Nathan and Nathan’s sort of that character who doesn’t really think about the consequences of his actions,” Towey said. “So, he just does things and then he realizes later, but throughout the majority of it he’s still a pretty thoughtful character and he tries to put effort into what he does.”

Donlan is part of the PV Theater program currently and is seeing what the future holds.

“I play Sam,” Donlan said. “She’s basically the love interest, I’d say, of Mark. She is kind of headstrong. I like her character a lot and like playing her. You’ll get to know her.”

The cast agreed that it was an incredible experience to work with Toledo as Towey says Toledo “really knows his craft, and loves it.”

Anakin Rybacki was heavily involved with creating music for the series but was cast in one episode as well.

“Music-wise, like I’ve never done anything this big before in terms of just the sheer time of music that I need to do,” Rybacki said. “So trying to do all of that on a computer, it’s a learning curve. I definitely, from the beginning of this whole process to now, I’m better at it. So that’s the biggest challenge, but it’s also the biggest, you know, the most exciting part.”

Every episode of the show will have a different theme and the release date is upcoming, but unknown at the moment. 

The cast and crew had a lot of fun together and Rybacki recalls a memorable moment of the western-style standoff that he was able to participate in.

“After we were done filming, we stayed there for like another half hour and we kept repeatedly trying to do standoffs over and over and over and over and over again. In costume and everything, it was just a fun, fun time.”

A memorable moment for Toledo was having to film inside a moving car, with Towey and Fei in the front.

“Usually, they would use green screens on cars to make them look like they’re moving while people are acting,” Toledo said. “We can’t do that. So instead, I had to get in the trunk of the car with the camera and the tripod and everything and sit in the back. I had to sit in the back of the car with the trunk open while it was driving, holding on for dear life on the other side of the car, while these two drove down the street. I’m just sitting there like this holding on to everything and it was just very funny.”