Lights, Camera, Ashland

Ashland's defunct Stillwater bar became a 1920s nightclub on a recent weekend, inhabited by a cigarette girl, mobsters and the Los Angeles band The Janks.

As the band played "Hands of Time," local actress Danielle Kelly was whisked on stage to tango, only to be removed from the club minutes later by the mobsters. Meanwhile, hair and makeup artists who work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival touched up about 25 actors and dancers backstage, and a camera crew darted through the crowd, with a hand-cranked 35-millimeter video camera.

The music video shoot was the work of a newly formed creative team made up of band manager Rich Rees, director Gary Lundgren and producer Gary Kout. The team, which calls itself Ashland Collaborative, plans to make more music videos in town, including several more for The Janks early next year.

"This is one of our primary goals — to encourage shoots to happen here that might otherwise happen somewhere else," said Kout, who is also the executive director of Southern Oregon Film and Television.

Nearly all of the 25 crew members and 25 actors and dancers inside Stillwater that day were local to Southern Oregon, said Lundgren, who directed "Calvin Marshall," a 2009 comedy shot largely in Ashland and Medford.

"We've identified some of the most talented people in the area and we love being able to work with them," he said.

With the ubiquity of the Internet, music videos have become more important for bands, Lundgren said.

"They can be a valuable promotional tool and they can affect record sales," he said. "We want to work with local bands that need music videos."

The group joined forces in October, after meeting at a July 4 party in Ashland, shortly after Rees had moved to town from the Los Angeles area.

"We realized there was a lot of collaboration potential," Kout said.

In early October, with "no budget," the group filmed its first music video, of The Janks song "Dead Man." The video features a "hillbilly wedding gone wrong," and resembles a '70s thriller, Lundgren said.

The music videos will be released in April with the band's first full-length album, which has been recorded but not titled, Rees said.

The five members of The Janks, all men in their early- to mid-20s, play modern indie rock with retro influences, including those of Queen, The Kinks and The Doors, he said.

The Janks will play in Ashland on May 6 at CultureWorks, as part of its West Coast tour, and will return to Ashland to shoot several more music videos.

"The band came up from L.A. and loved it here, loved working with the team," Rees said. "They love the small-town feel, but that there's also a very artistic vibe here. It's a good place for them to unwind from being in L.A."

Ashland Collaborative knew it "couldn't do another no-budget film," but it wanted to continue to work with The Janks, Lundgren said.

The band and video team decided to try a new fundraising technique called crowd funding, which uses the Internet to solicit small donations from many people. They set up a page on the fundraising website Kickstarter and made an appeal to fans, friends and family.

By Dec. 10, just 45 days after they started the campaign, they had raised about $10,000. Most donations were for $10, said Rees, who appears in the film as a mobster.

"We used every penny of it," Lundgren said.

The team recast some of the same people from the first video, including Kelly, who played the cigarette girl. The film also features dance teachers Roy Wright and Paul Fraser, as well as actors Doug Rowe, Jeff Hunter, Flannery Lundgren, Eric Bonetti and Larry Ziegelmeyer, all of whom live in Southern Oregon.

Lundgren used the hand-cranked 35-millimeter Mitchell camera, which is from the 1940s, to make the footage appear vintage.

"We were trying to recreate the '20s style and I wanted to do that with the film, too," Lundgren said. "I just felt it would be weird to recreate the '20s and shoot in high definition."

Lundgren also plans to shoot a feature-length film called "Bad Vintage" this spring, in Napa, Calif., and Southern Oregon, he said.

One of the hair and makeup artists hired for The Janks shoot Saturday, Virginia Carol Hudson, who also makes wigs for OSF, said she was thrilled to see more video projects being shot locally.

"There is a tremendous, valuable glut of talent in this area and we've been waiting for someone like these people to tap it," she said.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or

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