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By Jessica Rafuse

More than 120 people came to school last Saturday to Makeout! and help Ryan Hughes with his homework.

Hughes, a fourth year film student at Ryerson, wanted to do something different for his thesis film, so he staged a mass make-out.

“We wanted to create something engaging by taking art off the wall, and make it more accessible to people,” Hughes said. “Our project is an event as well as a film.”

It was also the itinerary for many couples on their first date, a welcome reunion for long-distance lovers and even a playful release for platonic friends.

Organizers divided participants into four colour-coded teams to prep for the afternoon’s events being held at the Business Building.

“Please remember, it’s a makeout thing, not an orgy. Clothes gotta stay on,” volunteer James Vanderwater said as he instructed giggling couples about the project.

Exhibitionists competed against one another during some epic and acrobatic lip locking “kiss-offs” in a variety of scenarios, including an airplane bathroom makeout, a post-fight smooch and a kiss with sewn together tongues.

Rebecca Pfliger, 22, and Vince Tourangeau, 31, chose to come to Makeout! to test-drive their chemistry.

“We met on the Internet and were talking about what to do for a fun first date,” said second-year Ryerson journalism student Pfliger, who shared her first kiss with Tourangeau in the bad-breath kiss off. “It was good,” Tourangeau added.

Several steamy makeouts later, the couples were taken to the auditorium where the film would be shot. Hughes chose the auditorium for its architectural appeal and because, “it’s similar to theatre seating, where both elements of spectatorship and voyeurism come into play.”

The lighting was dim and couples of all ages and orientations cuddled in the seats. Several actors were hired to act as focal points as the camera panned and zoomed out to unfold the spectacle.

Two girls played clapping games while others fed one another grapes. Another girl played the out of place single that looked around with dismay as actors Alyssa Mariano and Sean Fleming stood just a few rows up sharing a passionate embrace evoking the famous image of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day kiss in Times Square.

Fluorescent papers were tossed and rolls of toilet paper spiraled into the air as artificial wind blew the hair of canoodling couples.

“Ryan loved the idea of all these real and personal micro-moments coming together in the context of this larger theme,” said co-producer Mike MacMillan, 27, of Hughes’ vision.

Hughes was daydreaming in class when he came up with the idea for Makeout! last year. Intrigued by the spontaneity and unique visual appeal it offered, he began working on it.

Mike Lesage and his partner Christopher Fowler, a Ryerson theatre grad, were re-united after some long-distance dating. They attended Makeout! for their first day back together.

Christina Chow came from Waterloo to meet up with her friend David O’Sullivan to kiss and cavort. “It was just something to do on a Saturday afternoon,” O’Sullivan said. Chow made clear that the two are indeed, “just friends.”

After almost five hours of work, and six takes on 35 mm film, all that was needed were a few takes of sound.

“That’s nasty!” a crewmember shouted out during a sound-take of the couples smooching without the noise distractions of the wind-blower, flying paper and running film.

For Karim Halfawi and Andrew Behan who also chose Makeout! for their first-date and first kiss, the chemistry was undeniable. “It was a little tiring,” Behan said at the end of the day. “But the making out was awesome, and it was the best way to get to know someone.”

With the help of Facebook and MySpace to recruit couples, numerous volunteers, and the understanding and support of Ryerson’s administration, Hughes managed to pull off Toronto’s biggest public display of affection.

The short-film that’s expected to run at just under two minutes will premiere at the Ryerson University Film Festival this May, and will also vie for a screening at Toronto’s International Film Festival next fall.

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