Ashland the stage for feature film

Ashland will get a taste of Hollywood when a few of its stars arrive this week for the filming of the full-length baseball comedy "Calvin Marshall" around the Rogue Valley.

Filming began with local actors last week, with scenes along East Main and A Streets, at Southern Oregon University and local homes. The crew also took over the North Mountain Park baseball fields today to stage a community softball game.

The movie, starring Steve Zahn of "Sahara" and "Rescue Dawn" fame, chronicles a young man's misguided attempts to make his junior college baseball team.

"It's about having at some point to give up on your childhood dreams and at the same time still be a dreamer," said Michael Matondi, co-producer.

Matondi and the husband-and-wife team of Gary and Anne Lundgren of Broken Sky Films based in Santa Monica, Calif. chose Ashland and the surrounding area for its charm and budding film scene, Matondi said, along with former production experience in Ashland. Producer Anne Lundgren grew up visiting Ashland from her childhood home just outside of Yreka, Calif., and the couple produced the short film "Wow and Flutter" in Ashland in 2004.

"It's so gorgeous, and the light is beautiful," she said. "It fits really well for the story."

In addition to the Hollywood personalities, the film will rely on local talent to round out film crews and the cast of extras, between 100 and 150 people in total.

Local impact

Notwithstanding local actors' chances at movie stardom, local films benefit the city like any other area business, said Ann Seltzer, the city's management analyst.

A small part of profits come from permits to film on city streets, in public spaces or to include building exteriors, which added up to $870, but filmmakers estimate between $400,000 and $500,000 will be spent in the Rogue Valley before filming ends Dec. 14.

"It does have a positive impact on the economics on the community," Seltzer said. "They might hire local caterers to provide food. They might hire local people as extras. They stay in hotels while they're here, they eat out in restaurants."

The street closures and traffic accommodations the city makes for films differ little from detours due to road construction, she said.

"The closure of a street is never convenient, so the challenge is to do it for a limited period of time and to cause the least inconvenience to people," she said.

For Lee Vandenburg, the effects of the film are much more personal. The producers are renting out her house as a home base and scene location. They even built a bedroom set in her garage.

"It's sort of a kick," she said. "It's a compliment that you have a house with curb appeal and is unique enough to be used."

Although Vandenburg, a self-described film fanatic, was excited when she heard Steve Zahn would be in the film, she was still cautious about renting the house before she moved into it.

"When I found out it was legitimate and a family movie, I said 'yes,'" she said. "I knew they would be respectful. Everything's been going well."

Interaction with the community as a whole has gone well so far, Matondi said.

"I really want it to be a good experience for the community so more films can come here," he said. "Everyone's been extremely helpful. It's not like some towns where they're extremely jaded because they've had so many films."

"Calvin Marshall" will be released in 2009, he said.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or . To post a comment on this story, go to .

Share This Story