'Campus Radio' brings Central Texas to the dial
You never know quite what to expect from college radio.
That, of course, is part of the reason students and nonstudents alike check out stations such as Texas State's KTSW 89.9 FM and UT's KVRX 91.7 FM.
The unique and unusual broadcasts have intrigued Aaron James Sorensen for years, prompting him to write and direct "Campus Radio," a movie largely shot in Central Texas. It debuted Feb. 4 in San Marcos, where it continues to play at the Starplex theater.
"Campus radio provides an interesting context and diversity," says the Canadian director who's made Austin his second home in recent years. "It's charming to hear the death-metal hour followed by the lesbians followed by the Christians."
The film focuses on college deejay Xavier Thortenberry (played by Tom Belding), who also manages Meathouse, an indie-rock band. The arrival of a sexy, new lead singer tears the group apart and, ultimately, leads to Thortenberry getting the boot. Still licking his wounds, he returns to spinning records on campus — even playing music from the band that unceremoniously dumped him. Classy guy.
Familiar landmarks are scattered throughout the 95-minute flick, including the Capitol, Texas State's Old Main building, Stubb's, Red Eyed Fly and Daniel Johnston's "Hi, How Are You" painting. Leslie's there, too. Of course. Even the call letters used by the fictional station are familiar to Central Texans. KGSR, anyone?
" ‘Campus Radio's' all about music, forgiveness and passion," says Austin Lincoln, who pops up near the start of the film as a "bad hip-hop artist" auditioning to join Meathouse. "It was very epic to be a part of the movie."
Lincoln, a local who performs around town with a variety of R&B and hip-hop acts, makes his on-screen debut in "Campus Radio" after spending time behind the scenes on other local productions, including "Grindhouse" and "Friday Night Lights." Next up is an album, "Step Into the Light," that's due out Nov. 26. He's also involved with the recently launched Silverwear clothing line.
"There's just so much stuff going on right now," he says while en route to Corpus Christi, where's he lined up more work.
Acting isn't so new to Marble Falls resident Royce Boswell, who plays Thortenberry's grandfather in "Campus Radio" and has had roles in several other films. When he's not wearing pancake makeup and rehearsing lines, you'll find him running a marina on Lake LBJ.
"This was the best cast and the best director I've ever worked with," Boswell says.
The acting veteran says "Campus Radio's" premiere earlier this month — complete with a limo and red carpet — was one of the highlights of his career, except for watching one slightly unsettling scene with members of his family.
"I sat through my own funeral," Boswell, whose character dies in the film, says with a chuckle. "I came really close to tears. It was something else."
So what's next for "Campus Radio"? The film — written in six months, shot in less than 30 days, and filmed on a budget of less than $1 million — is currently screening only in San Marcos.
"That's the big question," says Sorensen, who has already moved on to a couple new films, including one that will begin shooting in Canada later this year.
("Campus Radio," rated PG-13 with a runtime of 95 minutes, is playing at Starplex, 1250 Wonder World Drive in San Marcos.)