A busy day behind the scenes

It is 5 a.m. on a Sunday, the sky dark, not a hint of sunrise on the horizon. While most of Ashland is still asleep, the McNeal Pavilion, on the campus of Southern Oregon University, hums with energy. The adjacent parking lot crowded with large paneled trucks, trailers, and a bevy of techies moving equipment into the gymnasium.

In the foyer of the pavilion are long tables where extras &

and there will be a large number of them for today's shoots &

are asked to check in and sign film release forms. Against one wall is a table with breakfast rolls, bagels and coffee.

Inside the gym proper, hardwood floors gleam. A volleyball net splits the large arena. The bleachers have been pulled out on both sides. Cameras and sound equipment are being set up, with lights and a large white-screen diffuser placed for best effect. Later in the day, an estimated 150 extras will take their places in the stands to add enthusiastic background for what will be a 12-hour day of shooting volleyball scenes.

For now, at this early hour, 50 extras, holding pom poms and blue "we're number one fingers," are grouped together for a smaller scene. The crew is in constant motion, all dedicated to the choreography of one particular shot which is calibrated and re-calibrated, lighting checked, sound tested and retested.

Gary Lundgren, the writer and director, a headset around his neck, confers with the cinematographer and two actors who are seated at a score keeping table. Filming is about to begin. day's end some 40 scenes will be shot and put in the can.

The movie? Its a full-length feature titled "Calvin Marshall," and it will be filming in Ashland and surrounding environs for 25 days. This will be followed by a period of post production and editing. Already pre-production has lasted several months.

Making a feature film is no small thing, even for what might be called an "indie film." The investment, emotionally and monetarily, is enormous. It can be high risk and high gain. Being part of a shoot, said producer Mike Mantondi, here from Santa Monica, Calif. "is like belonging to a family who all have as their goal the making of an extraordinarily authentic film that will touch people."

When the final frame is shot "Calvin Marshall" will have involved a huge number of people, many drawn from the Rogue Valley as well as Los Angeles. Los Angeles based script supervisor Erin Casteel is seated in the bleachers, a binder open on her lap. She will follow every day of shooting meticulously. Casteel is responsible for the films continuity (there can't be a black eye in one shot and not in the followup) and represents the film's editor, who will consult her detailed notes when assembling the movie into a coherent whole, which is what the audience will see on the screen. Casteel pointed out that a film can be shot starting from the middle or the end and then edited in post production.

Kent Romney, based in Ashland, is the location sound mixer. A veteran of the industry for more than 25 years, having traveled all over the world creating films, he sits before an array of instruments and screens, ear phones on, allowing him to communicate with the crew and the director.

Anita Gomez and Rocky Garrotto of Grants Pass sit nearby. They are the videographers who will create a behind the scenes documentary as well as taking still shots, all of which will be part of the DVD release.

Producer Anne Lundgren and Line Producer Gary Kout were asked, "Why Ashland?" She emphasized the town's generic charm and beauty. Kout pointed out that "the setting of the film will be fictitious and Ashland has a timeless feel to it and creates a beautiful backdrop."

Anne, and her director husband Gary, having formed the Santa Monica-based production company Broken Sky Films, returned to the Rogue Valley recalling their positive experience when filming their award-winning short "Wow and Flutter." They haven't been disappointed.

"The crews here are awesome," said Anne. "It's also incredibly beautiful." The exterior ambiance of the locations are important for "Calvin Marshall" is a baseball movie, and many scenes will be shot outdoors.

Mantondi estimates that "Calvin Marshall" will be released next year, having been screened at film festivals, such as Toronto's famous festival, and a distributor found.

"When you're selling something so personal, you want a good distributor," he said. "Hopefully we'll find one who understands how special this film is."

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