Undergraduate Admissions

Meet Jay Karolenko and Henry Basta
HENRY’S MAJOR: Mass Communications/Film

Music Education

HOMETOWN: Bel Air, Md.


THINGS WE LIKE: VHS, A Goofy Movie, Kickball, Liam Neeson

PBS Video Contest (People’s Choice Award)
John Carroll Film Festival (First Place Award)
Henry Basta (left) and Jay Karolenko

Who is Sharpened Crayons?
Jay: "We met at John Carroll High School in Bel Air, but didn't actually become friends and form the band until we both came to Towson in 2008."
Henry: "Our first video was I Was a Power Ranger, and we had a blast. From there, everything spiraled out of control. Now we have almost 30 videos on YouTube and have won several film awards."
Jay: "It's funny because we came up with the name Sharpened Crayons by mistake, but we think it's perfect. With a box of sharpened crayons, the possibilities are endless."

Musician Jay Karolenko and filmmaker Henry Basta have nearly a dozen local and national film awards, including People's Choice in a national PBS video contest.

You were tapped to create the music video I tell 'em Towson University. Tell us about it. Jay: “The concept came from Associate Director of Undergraduate Marketing Joe Schuberth, after he watched the music video we produced for TU’s Cook Library. Over the course of four months, we wrote and recorded a catchy song about the university and filmed all over our campus—it was awesome.”
Henry: “The entire experience was extremely educational and fun. It was really great to see the Towson community come together to help us make our vision a reality.”

Sharpened Crayons uses a mixture of video and music to "take you on a journey you never asked to go on."
Henty and Jay rappel from the Peregrine's Nest rock wall

What is your process?
Jay: "It's a real collaboration. We meet halfway with the lyrics, I write the music and Henry films the videos. Sometimes Henry will ask me to write a specific song and he'll come up with a video idea for it. Other times, we'll have this really cool idea for a video and I'll write music to fit that. Our subjects—from power rangers to pineapples—are random, but so are the mediums we work in. People don't know what to expect from us and I think that's our secret weapon."
Henry: "We have so many ideas and so many unfinished projects. We'll start working on something and immediately become distracted by something else. And we always go over budget too, because we never have a budget." Jay: "Our biggest budget was for Pineapples mhmmm, when we spent about $8 on pineapples.

What are some of the challenges of making a music video?
Henry: "Filming in the middle of Cook Library without disturbing anyone is the most ridiculous thing I've ever had to do."
Jay: "We had an iPod with a splitter and each had an earbud to stay in sync."
Henry: "No one asked us what we were doing there, because we were that quiet."
Jay: "You do get some weird looks when you bring a bass guitar into the library. But I really love the song we wrote for that video. It's so catchy. I'll never forget the phone number for Cook."

Why did you choose to attend Towson?
Henry: "It was a no-brainer, really. I'm from Maryland and everyone in my family has gone to Towson. I love it here. It's what I know. And I'd heard nothing but good things about the film department."
Jay: "I wanted to stay local as well. I'm very close with my family and we all live in Maryland. And I was really impressed with Towson's music program, specifically the music education program. When I took the tour, Towson seemed like a place where I could be really happy, and I have been."

Henry and Jay poolside at Burdick

What does the future hold for Sharpened Crayons?
Henry: "I don't think we can predict our future. If you had told me three years ago that we would be shooting music videos in Cook Library or winning a People's Choice Award for a national PBS contest, I would never have believed you."
Jay: "They have that expression that if you love what you're doing you won't work a day in your life, and I'm finding that true here at Towson. I love what I do. I love my major. And I love the opportunities I've had to work with fellow students to produce really cool things."

What is your advice to future musicians and filmmakers? Henry: "Have fun with it. If you do that, it won't matter what anyone else thinks." Jay: "Go out and do it. Learn. And don't take yourself too seriously."

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