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FDL Movie Night: Circle the Wagen

Circle the Wagen – MOTION PICTURE TRAILER from Ryan Steven Green on Vimeo.

When Nevada-born Dave Torstenson graduated from University of Southern California, he did what many young men dream of doing after college–he moved to New York and started a rock band. Things weren’t quite as great he thought they would be, so when his friends in Los Angeles urged him to move back to Southern California, he sees it as an opportunity to fulfill another dream:

He would buy a VW bus and drive it across country.

Circle the Wagen follows Dave and his best friend Charlie Pecoraro on their journey down Route 66 in “The Croc,” a baby blue bus purchased, sight unseen, on eBay for $787. Mired by the vehicle’s mechanical problems during his first attempt cross-country, Dave has left The Croc in the parking lot of a church–luckily the pastor likes him–while he and Charlie map out the network of VW clubs along Route 66 that they can turn to for help. Because they are going to need it.

With every breakdown–and there are plenty–Dave and Charlie are assisted by VW enthusiasts who feed and shelter the travelers while helping them (learn) to repair the 1972 bus. Which has a huge dent in the rear. And lots of rust. And faulty fuel lines. And bad filters. And..and…and..

Despite their breakdowns, Dave and Charlie’s optimism never wavers. Along America’s storied highway, they experience a 72 oz steak and numerous assists from strangers united by their love of VWs who show up to to provide roadside assistance. But in nine days they have only driven five hundred miles, and before them stretches all of New Mexico and Arizona, plus the California desert. This does not look good. With a sigh the guys make the decision to leave The Croc–now covered with a custom mural– at the historic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico because she just can’t make it any further.

Four years go by, and Dave travels the world teaching English and Charlie develops his career as an actor. But despite all of his adventures, Dave can’t let go of The Croc. He and Charlie make one more effort to get her to Los Angeles, and the VW underground is there to help.

Tonight’s guests are: Dave Torstenson, Producer & “The Driver;” Charlie Pecoraro, Writer, Executive Producer & “The Buddy;” and Ryan Steven Green, Writer, Director & Editor. Part road trip, part social experiment, Circle The Wagen took home 2013 Best Feature Documentary honors at the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles (DFFLA) and Columbia Gorge International Film Festival (CGIFF); as well as the 2013 Dennis Hopper Guerrilla Award at the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience (AFME).


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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.