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Filmmaker chronicles journey in vintage VW, its subculture

Dave Torstenson won a bid on eBay to purchase a 1972 Volkswagen Transporter Deluxe for $787. “Circle the Wagen” is about his adventure in getting the van to California. (Courtesy of Circle the Wagen)

Dave Torstenson won a bid on eBay to purchase a 1972 Volkswagen Transporter Deluxe for $787. “Circle the Wagen” is about his adventure in getting the van to California. (Courtesy of Circle the Wagen)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ryan Steven Green is a storyteller. And with his latest project, he’s telling the story through film.

Green’s docu-dramedy, “Circle The Wagen,” will have its world premiere at the Albuquerque Film and Media Experience on June 9.

The film is about the vintage Volkswagen subculture in America – that close-knit community for whom the joy of driving is the joy of living.

It follows Dave Torstenson, an idealistic adventurer and automotive ne’er-do-well, on his journey down Route 66 in a 1972 Volkswagen Transporter Deluxe purchased on eBay for $787.

If you go
WHAT: “Circle the Wagen”WHEN AND WHERE: 4:30 p.m. June 9 at The Guild Cinema, 3405 E. Central and 7:30 p.m. June 9 at the Lobo Theatre, 3013 E. CentralHOW MUCH: $8-$10 at or 886-1251

Through countless backfires, blowouts and breakdowns, the heart of the vintage VW community is revealed as they attempt to save “The Croc” from the scrap heap and rally her beleaguered owner on to California.

“The actual film wasn’t my idea,” Green admits. “Both Dave and Charlie (Pecoraro) are friends from college and we’ve known each other for 14 years now. Dave is the adventurous type and bought ‘The Croc’ online and was going to drive it to Los Angeles. Charlie went along for the ride and they invited me to make a film.”

But getting footage for the film took two trips and spanned over a few years. Green says the first trip out to California failed and only lasted 20 hours of driving.

“The bus broke down and Dave left the bus in Tulsa with his girlfriend’s family,” he says. “It was when we were planning another trip that we learned of this whole culture that helps people fix up their Volkswagens.”

When the guys got to Tulsa, they drove Route 66 until they hit Tucumcari.

“It was a rough 13 days because the bus broke down every day, but we met a lot of folks along the way,” he says. “When we broke down in Tucumcari, we were out of money and we were only a third of the way done.”

The trio asked the owner of the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari if they could leave the bus there and said they’d be back soon.

“Four years later, the owner, Bill Kinder, called us up and said we needed to come get it. He was selling the motel and didn’t want anything to happen to it,” he says. “That’s when we decided we had to finish this adventure.”

During the four-year hiatus from filming, Green says Kinder was so enthusiastic to have “The Croc” on his grounds, but he never imagined it would be there that long.

“Initially it was only supposed to be there for a month,” Green recalls. “He was so generous to us by letting us keep it there.”

Also during that break, Green got married and started working on other film projects. Torstenson was teaching journalism all over the world.

“He went to China, Iraq and other places,” he says. “And being Dave, he was always looking for somewhere new to go.”

Green says something great began to happen right before Kinder called the trio.

“There were people who began sending us photos of them with ‘The Croc’ while they visited the Blue Swallow,” he says. “During the time we were away from ‘The Croc,’ it began to develop its own little following. When I looked it up online, there were numerous Flickr pages dedicated to it. I started reaching out to them one by one and got permission to use their photos in the film.”

Green says there are photos from people living anywhere from Chicago to Ireland.

“I asked these people to tell me the story on why they took a photo with ‘The Croc,'” he explains. “It’s pretty cool that this all happened and we’re able to show it in the film.”

While the world premiere will be held in Albuquerque, AFME has already scheduled a second screening of the film.

“This film has grown bigger than we ever expected,” he says. “The truth it, people love Volkswagens and we are giving a glimpse at this subculture around the world.”

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN: TV and film star Matthew Morrison does a fresh and modern take on American Standards during his PBS special “Matthew Morrison: Where It All Began – Live From The Bushnell.”

The “Glee” star’s special will air at 10 p.m. Monday, June 3 and 6 p.m. June 9 on PBS, Channel 5.

Morrison gives a salute to the music that means the most to him.

The concert features the songs from his new album, “Where It All Began,” which was produced by the late Phil Ramone and Grammy Award-winning producer Gregg Field.

The Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe-nominated actor puts his own stamp on classic standards.

Visit to read an interview with Morrison and learn why he wanted to do a PBS special as well as paying homage to classic American standards.

RACE TO THE SCENE: Action star Dolph Lundgren cut his teeth with hosting duties with the new reality TV show, “Race to the Scene,” which is premiering on Albuquerque-based ReelzChannel at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 6.

The competition consists of pairs of contestants race to and from actual movie locations as they compete in challenges and stunts inspired by memorable movie moments.

Lundgren says the opportunity came to him at the right time.

“I’ve always been an action star and never really shown who I am as a person,” he says. “This gives me time to show my comedic side while interacting with the contestants.”

To learn more about Lundgren and the show, visit

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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