The “Campus Radio” movie tour bus is in the background at a recent unicycle football game. Photo by Sean Batura.
By SEAN BATURA
The movie “Campus Radio,” a rock ‘n roll romantic comedy set mostly in San Marcos, had a successful world premier at the Starplex last Friday.
The film is slated to play until at least Feb. 17 while it gains the momentum needed to be shown in multiple small Texas cities at once.
The movie sold out for its premier and ranked third in weekend ticket sales at the Starplex behind wide-release films “Roommate” and “No Strings Attached.” For the moment, the film is only available for viewing in San Marcos. Further sales figures and negotiations will determine where the film is shown next.
“I think the (film’s) message is wonderful,” said San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero, who attended the film’s premier. “The characters really resonate with the audience, and there’s moments that were just really touching. I think, overall, it’s a great film, and I think people will be excited to see different landmarks, businesses, and things that they’re familiar with seeing in their daily lives in San Marcos.”
Guerrero said shooting films in San Marcos is not new, though he said Campus Radio is the first film where San Marcos appears as the setting.
The film’s director, Aaron James Sorensen, said the film cost well less than $1 million to shoot, “about the cost of a really nice house.”
San Marcos is mentioned by name in the film’s first line of dialogue. The movie’s first few minutes include a scene that would not surprise a San Marcian, as the story’s protagonist unicycles past familiar businesses around the courthouse square. Scenes were set at Tantra Coffeehouse and various spots on the Texas State campus, among other locations. Tantra and Wake the Dead Coffeehouse are mentioned in character dialogue, and a unicycle football game is featured in the movie.
According to “Campus Radio” director Aaron James Sorensen, the film was shot about equally in San Marcos and Austin, though most of the movie’s story takes place in San Marcos. Sorensen, who also wrote and produced the movie, said some scenes shot on the banks of the Colorado River in Austin are set in San Marcos for the purposes of the story. The San Marcos River does not appear in “Campus Radio,” though Sorensen said he intends to include the river in a future film.
Sorensen said he wants to show the movie in 96 small Texas cities before allowing it to run in the four large metropolitan areas in the state, though plans may change due to the fluidity of market conditions. Sorensen said he wants the film to have a final “homecoming” showing in San Marcos.
“Campus Radio” was never intended to be a valentine to San Marcos, though Sorensen said giving residents the opportunity to see their home on the big screen is important to him.
“(Campus Radio) is a rock ‘n roll comedy about love and forgiveness,” Sorensen said.
Much of the film features the travails of three Texas State students in their efforts to find romance. Xavier (Tom Belding), a unicycle-riding, rock ‘n roll DJ for KTSW-FM, is the film’s protagonist. Tommy (Lauren Walsh), the main object of Xavier’s desire for much of the film, is a beautiful, flirtatious female singer who recently joined the band Xavier manages. Jolene (Anne Griffin), a sweet, wholesome young woman who runs a KTSW-FM show called “Jesus Freaks,” is smitten with Xavier, though he at first perceives her to be too socially conservative and religious.
Xavier’s love for his band and desire for Tommy inspire him to make personal sacrifices on their behalf. The band members and Tommy seem to prove themselves unworthy of Xavier’s efforts and love. Xavier, in turn, seems to prove himself unworthy of Jolene’s advances. However, a central question raised by the film is whether ideas of worthiness and unworthiness should motivate acts of love and forgiveness.
In a memorable scene, Jolene astonishes Xavier with her ability to forgive. Xavier, emotionally exhausted by his ordeal and humbled by Jolene’s faith, asks her what remedy there is for a person who cannot find love.
“Love isn’t something you try and find,” Jolene says. “It’s something we give.”
Jolene’s grace awakens Xavier’s capacity to offer impartial love and forgiveness.
The film also prominently features yoga and a marriage administered by a Hindu, and Jolene questions the scriptural authority of much of the New Testament when she tells Xavier that many self-described Christians should instead call themselves “Paulians.”
At the question and answer session following the film’s premier, two audience members said they loved Jolene’s Christian/Paulian comment, and one person asked Sorensen what prompted him to include that idea.
In reply Sorensen described himself as “a bit of a Jesus freak,” and lauded the simplicity of Jesus’ admonition to love everyone. Sorensen said this ethic reminds him of why he moved to Central Texas.
“One of the things I like about you all here, and why I moved to Central Texas … is I like the way you freaks and squares kind of all find a way to get along together,” Sorensen said.
His comment was interrupted by general applause and whooping from the audience.Email | Print