Hard work behind luring a film production to Ashland

It took behind-the-scenes work and cooperation to attract the filmmakers for the movie "Wild" to Ashland, said Gary Kout, executive director of the nonprofit group Southern Oregon Film and Television.

The film's crew shot scenes Tuesday at the downtown Plaza, the post office and the Breadboard Restaurant in Ashland for the movie, based on Cheryl Strayed's best-selling memoir, "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail."

Before the film crew ever came to town, Kout said the Oregon Film Office in Portland notified SOFaT that "Wild" might include scenes shot in the state.

"The Oregon Film Office said, 'There's a potential project. We're trying to get them to shoot here. Can you round up scouts?' " Kout said.

Several SOFaT members scouted the area and took photographs of potential filming sites, including locations along the PCT.

After sending off photos, SOFaT members played host to a scout and producer for "Wild," driving them around Southern Oregon, Kout said.

Filmmakers ultimately chose to shoot the PCT shots in the Bend area, but they did choose several locations for filming inside Ashland, he said.

Kout said "Wild" is the largest movie ever shot in Ashland so far.

Filmmakers for the smaller movies "Redwood Highway" and "Night Moves" pumped $500,000 per film into the Southern Oregon economy, he said.

Money went toward cast and crew salaries, equipment rentals, lodging and other needs, Kout said.

Kout said he is optimistic more filmmakers will choose Southern Oregon, which has a surprisingly large number of film crew professionals available.

Members of SOFaT include art directors, composers, costume designers, directors, videographers and camera operators, writers, editors, hair and make-up experts, location scouts and producers.

Home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and numerous other theater companies, Southern Oregon has a wealth of actors and theater crew members.

The area has scenic beauty that films well, along with activities for film crew members to enjoy during their off-hours, Kout said.

"It's a destination. It has restaurants and culture and theater and art walks," Kout said, noting that he's seen crew members for past films taking part in wine tasting, hikes and visits to the ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in Ashland.

During the last legislative session, SOFaT and the Oregon Film Office successfully pushed for additional incentives to draw more filmmakers to the state, he said.

The cities of Ashland and Medford and local chambers of commerce also work hard to accommodate filmmakers, Kout said.

Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

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