Penn State students produce a sitcom
304 is a sitcom that is put-together by the School of Theatre and the College of Communications at Penn State University. Dan Carter, the Director of the School of Theatre, conceived the premise for the show. The first few episodes were directed by assistant professor Matthew Toronto. The sitcom is almost entirely student produced.
Production for the show takes place in two classes, THEA 497A and 497E, which are Sitcom Production and the Writers room respectively. The shows production involves many theatre students including actors and design students as well as film students from the College of Communications
The plot of the show follows three college roommates who decide to start a late night cookie delivery business out of their home. The main character, Mal (played by Sean Wilcox) and his two roommates Jack (Liam Fennecken) and Tony (Michael Murray) open up the business, which encounters its share of problems. Also involved is Mal’s girlfriend, Holly (Stephanie Cowan).
Wilcox, Fennecken, and Murray graduate in May 2013. 304 will continue after their graduation but will be focused around different characters living in the same apartment. Who those characters are and how the sitcom will change will not be known until the end of the Spring 2013 season.
The show gets it’s title from the address of the characters apartment which is number 304. The show is primarily shot on an apartment set in the basement of the theatre building. Shooting also takes place on location. 304 has been around for many years as a sitcom. In 2011 Dan Carter sought to refocus the show with the current cookie-selling story line.
Matt Toronto, the current director and producer, is a theatre professor who has also directed many films. He combines his background in theatre with film to help produce 304. Eventually he wants to back away from his job as a director and let a student take over. Toronto thoroughly enjoys working on 304 and appreciates the challenges it provides.
“To make a TV show it takes 1,001 miracles because there’s going to 1000 disasters,” Toronto says. “So you just have to have one more miracle than there are disasters and you can make it.”
The writers, who are students, come from all areas including English, theatre, and broadcast journalism. The writer’s room is run by David Higgins, a playwright with a passion for comedy. Most of the writers have a background in written, stand-up, and/or improvisational comedy.
The first episode can be viewed at the bottom of the page.
The Writers Room
The writers room for 304 meets to write and revise scripts for upcoming episodes. Most of the writers have a background in comedy and so very much enjoy making each other laugh as well as being serious about comedy. However they are occasionally difficult to get a serious interview with.
Episode 1 of 304: "Another Year, Another Loophole"
Bill Hood was a member of the 304 writers room for the 2011-12 season.