New Documentary Bigger Than Sound Tracks the Career of Local Promoter Charlie Levy

As a recent graduate from Arizona State University, I can attest to the student showcases the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication regularly hosts. The second floor of the school's downtown building houses the First Amendment Forum, where CNN constantly airs. The public space normally is used as a congregation area and lounge spot for students, but the giant screen and concert-worthy banana-shaped speakers also make it an ideal spot to watch some of the students' handiwork.

On Tuesday night, students Kayla Frost, Alex Gregory, Mugo Odigwe, and Marissa Ochoa shared the stage with other amateur filmmakers as they unveiled their documentary, Bigger Than Sound; a 30-minute jaunt about Charlie Levy, founder of Phoenix-based promotion company Stateside Presents.

Frost and her cohorts interviewed renowned local musicians Nate Ruess and Sam Means formerly of The Format, Miniature Tigers, and Jimmy Eat World's Jim Adkins to help chronicle Levy's rise from concert director at ASU to head honcho of everyone's favorite haunt, the Crescent Ballroom.

"There are good people and there are bad people," Adkins says. "Charlie's one of the good people."

The film is narrated by ukulele-wielding folk singer Michelle Blades and features a relatively lighthearted tone as the unassuming, self-deprecating Levy attempts to talk about himself. He regularly acknowledges that he's not very good at being the focus of attention, which got a rise out of the 150 or so perusers who stopped by the forum.

Former Tempe staple Nita's Hideaway is prominently featured in the film, as well. Levy made his first home at the now-defunct venue and dive bar, promoting countless shows at the spot that is now occupied by Tempe Marketplace.

"It was beautiful for all of the reasons it was messed up," Adkins says, describing the joint as a "dive held together by duct tape."

The fledgling videographers do an excellent job of telling Levy's story with a good mix of personal accounts and insight by some of the Valley's biggest names in music, but you'll have to wait a while before you can see it. Frost plans to make the film available online in the near future, however any movie theater screenings will have to wait as she'll be out of town for the summer.

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Anthony Sandoval
Contact: Anthony Sandoval