‘American Teen’ star Jake Tusing holds out his ticket for the movie. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
‘American Teen’ star Jake Tusing holds out his ticket for the movie. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
There was a wide range of emotions expressed during Tuesday night's premiere of the documentary "American Teen".

And that was just the people in the seats at Warsaw Community High School Performing Arts Center.

The sold-out crowd at times burst out in laughter, gasped at a student being slapped, and erupted into an approving applause at the end.

"Well, I have 10 grandchildren ages 14 to 28, so I'm kind of used to teenagers a little bit. I thought it was very well done. It was fun," said Lillian Brumbaugh, 77, Warsaw.
"It was really good," said Allison McSherry. "I loved it. I enjoyed it."

"I thought it was good, but difficult to gauge it because I know everyone in the film," said Griffin Fuller.

"American Teen" is the documentary filmed in Warsaw and Warsaw Community High School during the 2005-06 school year. It follows five seniors during their last year of high school - Megan Krizmanich, Colin Clemens, Hannah Bailey, Mitch Reinholt and Jake Tusing.

The PG-13 film was shot by Nanette Burstein. In January, Burstein won the director award for a documentary at the Sundance Film Festival for "American Teen".

While it may not have been Sundance, Tuesday's sold-out premiere did provide a sliver of the Hollywood feel to Warsaw.

Media from Fort Wayne, South Bend and Warsaw starting arriving at 6 p.m. At about 6:15 p.m., the cameras and reporters were corralled behind the rope along the red carpet, waiting for the film subjects to arrive. The red carpet was inside the WCHS PAC, diagonal from the box office, just across from the restrooms.

Tusing was the first to stroll down the carpet. He's been to other premieres, but the Warsaw one, he said, was the scariest of them all because he would know many people in the audience. However, he said the night would be a blast. He was looking forward to how the people would react.

During his promotional work of the documentary, Tusing said he's not had a lot of time to read the reviews. After going to Sundance, he read the stories about the premiere there, but hasn't had time since to read the reviews or stories from the likes of Rolling Stone, People, Entertainment Weekly or USA Today. But no need to worry, he'll catch up on it all later.

"My mom has been keeping a scrap book," Tusing said. Several, in fact. She also kept up a bulletin board at work.

Clemens wasn't as nervous about the Warsaw premiere as Tusing.

"I'm not much of a guy for nerves. I had to deal with a lot of it with basketball over the years," Clemens said.

There is one thing not in the movie that Clemens said he wished was in it. He had a girlfriend during the entire filming of the documentary. She doesn't even get a mention in the film.

Jordan Roberts, a producer for the film, also walked the red carpet. Burstein could not attend because she recently gave birth to a baby girl.

When making the movie, Roberts said they knew the archetypical teen stereotypes exist, but they wanted to see what was underneath them. There is more to humans than their archetypes, he said. With more and more people seeing the film, Roberts said it has been wonderful to see people touched and moved by the movie. They want everyone to see the film.

While the Sundance premiere in January was fun, and the film has premiered in Los Angeles and New York, Roberts said the Warsaw screening was harder, but more special.

"It's still chugging along. This is only the beginning. Sundance was great because that's where we sold it to Paramount Vantage," Roberts said.

The film will premiere at North Pointe Cinemas, Warsaw, and Indianapolis on Aug. 15. Roberts said it ultimately would be word of mouth that would get people to go out and see the film.

In some of the major publications' reviews of the documentary, the writers question whether some of the film may have staged. Roberts said he gets frustrated with those kind of comments. He said they spent 10 months in Warsaw for filming. Because it's an entertaining documentary, the film gets questioned. There are moments in the film, Roberts said, where kids are a little more awkward, but that's just part of the documentary filming process.

"It's a drag to hear that, but I hope people can just enjoy it," Roberts said.

Will the film earn an Oscar nomination or Oscar win for best documentary to go with its Sundance director award?

"Who knows?" Roberts said. "That would be great. ... As long as people go see it, that makes me very happy."

As Roberts was concluding his stroll down the red carpet, Reinholt began his walk.

"It's surreal and weird," said Reinolt of the Warsaw premiere. "This is where I grew up."

Not having been home for two months, he said he spent the day with his family. It was going to be great to share the film and the premiere with them, too, he said.

Over the past few months, Reinholt got many experiences in helping promote the documentary. He was on MTV, went to Sundance and worked with the Los Angeles Dodgers with Clemens in the public relations department.

But the highlight? "Just meeting new people in general. Getting to go to places and doing things I wouldn't have otherwise," Reinholt said.

Along the way, he said he got to meet some really nice people and make good friends with the people at Paramount. He also got to do it all with his four best friends from "American Teen".

In the fall, Reinholt returns to Indiana University in Bloomington. He said he has no idea of what to expect when he returns to his pre-med studies.

"No idea," he said. "I have no idea what it's going to be like."

But he won't have too much time to think about it. At 6 a.m. today, Reinholt said they had to travel down to Indianapolis for a few screenings of the film. Then they'll fly back to Los Angeles before a final return home.

"I love flying," Reinholt said. "I love traveling. Reading some books, relaxing."

Bailey had a prior commitment in California so she was unable to attend the premiere, but Krizmanich finished out the red carpet walks.

She said her family has "definitely" seen a change in her from high school to being a Notre Dame student. "You have to grow up, you have no choice," she said.

While she's been to many screenings of the film and there's been many highlights, Krizmanich said the traveling and hanging out with the other four cast members trumped them all.

Though Bailey could not be present for comment, her best friend, Clarke Joyner, commented about the movie after its screening. It was only the second time Joyner has seen the film.

"I'm really relieved actually how they did it," he said. The film was portrayed truthfully, but he spent a long time waiting to see how it came out. He said he was glad the crowd Tuesday seemed to enjoy the film and had a good time.

Once the nearly 1,000 people were in their seats, WCHS Assistant Principal Jennifer Shepherd made the introductory remarks.

"It's a great film. I've seen it a couple of times," she said.

She thanked Paramount Vantage and staff for making the premiere possible. She also thanked Roberts and Burstein, the Owens Group, Warsaw Schools administration, including former WCHS principal Dr. Jennifer Lucht, Da-Lite Screens for providing the big screen and others.

Roberts then took the microphone and said, "This is an amazing crowd here. This is one of the special screenings for me. I know Nanette would have loved to have been here."

After thanking the community for its support, Roberts said, "I'm very proud of this film."

The entire cast of "American Teen" then took the stage. On behalf of Paramount Vantage, the cast presented a $10,000 check to the Kosciusko County Community Foundation for an endowment scholarship for the performing arts.

After the film was over, the crowd headed toward the Tiger Den for the after party.

Food was catered by Penguin Point, and Dave Baumgartner played disc jockey. Gordy Clemens, Colin's father, performed as Elvis, beginning with the song "Viva Las Vegas".