When I was in university I had a show on the campus radio station, which served me well years later when I specialized in radio tracking and promotion as a publicist. Campus radio doesn't actually have much in common with mainstream radio, but it did give me an idea of how it feels to sit behind the booth and have people tune in to hear what you had to say.
I've gotten to know a lot about the radio business over the years, especially how things operate in small towns. You'd never hear Q107 in Toronto doing a Swap Shop feature where listeners call in to talk about what they're buying, selling or trading, but you most likely would if you're listening in Campbellford (which has an awesome station, for the record). My favourite small town radio show was actually one in rural Nova Scotia where the DJ would list things that people had lost or found - I was listening in one day while I was on hold and I thought it was one of the most brilliant and insane things I'd ever heard. Apparently, it was a really popular feature.
All this talk about radio is because I had the opportunity to see an advance screening of Bruce McDonald's new film Pontypool tonight. It's a horror movie set in a small town, revolving around the local morning show hosts, which I thought was a pretty amazing premise. In downtown Vancouver you might not have to tune into the radio station to get your news, but in a rural area local radio can be a lifeline to everything from community events to livestock listings. If, say, zombies infected with an unknown virus storm your city and start eating your neighbours, you'd most likely turn on the radio to figure out what the heck was going on - even if the hosts are just as confused as you are.
McDonald has always been a fascinating director. I loved Hard Core Logo and Dance Me Outside, so I had high expectations for Pontypool. I knew going in that it was about zombies, but little else. It ended up being more of a psychological thriller than a horror flick, but there was just enough of the traditional running, screaming and blood splatter to keep horror fans interested. There was a Q&A with McDonald after the movie and he filled our audience in on some of the details about shooting the movie in Toronto and why he made the decision to set the film in a small town radio station (for the record, the movie is based on a book, though apparently the film itself is only a loose interpretation). It was a nice to have that perspective and to hear a few details about how the movie was made.
I'm hoping that many of those who saw the screening tonight will decide to blog, Twitter and Facebook about it. I'd love to see Pontypool be successful enough to warrant a sequel. Apparently, McDonald and the book's author have discussed making it a trilogy and I'd love to see how that would play out. You can check out the film's trailer below. It opens in Toronto on Friday with the rest of the country to follow.