A group of mostly local filmmakers is shooting an “eco-thriller” TV series up in the Greensprings and Hyatt Lake area that it hopes to market on Shudder or another “video on demand” site. If successful, it could keep them shooting in the Cascade lakes area for many seasons.
In a shooting session Saturday, most of the talent and crew couldn’t really say what the series, called “The Stem,” is about, but it rings of “Twin Peaks” and features a possibly mentally unbalanced FBI agent, Nora, who has come looking for a 10-year-old girl who went missing in the “Greensprings Prairie” area a few years ago under very mysterious circumstances.
Brad Douglas, a former voiceover TV ad producer in Medford — and now producer-director of BarbedWire Media in Sacramento — started out shooting a feature-length film. But he realized “people are binging on series, and that’s how almost everything is being released now,” he says. So his crew members are shooting the first two episodes, and if they get nibbles, they will aim for a season of 10 episodes.
One of the cast, Clive Rosengren of Ashland, who calls himself “a recovering actor,” had a bit part in the 1991 underground classic “Twin Peaks” as Mr. Zipper, who came to fix a sprinkler system. He also acted in another cult classic, “Ed Wood,” in 1994.
In a scene shot Saturday, Rosengren, as Ben, approaches “Al the Mechanic” (Scott Ford), who is fixing a Subaru in a shed next to the Green Springs Inn and, in the most folksy backwoods Oregon drawl, ominously says Nora’s car needs to be pulled out of a ditch.
Rosengren, in one season at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, acted in “Comedy of Errors,” “Henry VI” and “The Visit.” He’s the one who finds the missing girl. He also acted in “Seinfeld,” “Thirtysomething” and “A League of One’s Own," and is author of a series of detective mysteries.
Ford has acted with OSF and Oregon Cabaret Theatre, lives on the Greensprings, and is the crew’s cook.
Ben’s wife on the show is Elsie, played by Marlyn Mason, a veteran of TV shows from “Perry Mason” to “Mission Impossible” — and one of only four women to sing on screen with Elvis Presley, in “The Trouble With Girls” in 1969. She lives in Los Angeles. Mark Schneider, also an OSF actor, plays the sheriff. He’s acted in TV from “General Hospital” to “Dragnet.”
Every thriller needs a villain, but this one’s a secret. There are hints. There’s a big chasm in the ground. There’s a chemical firm. The name Monsanto gets tossed around. Its concoctions affect life form(s) in a very bad way. What’s this got to do with the missing girl?
We “stumble into a dark secret hidden by the townsfolk of Greensprings Prairie. It’s a thriller. It’s horror,” says Douglas, adding that they have scripts for only the first two episodes and part of a third, so the freelance writer in Arizona may not have shaped the story quite yet.
The production is happening in the Cascades above Ashland because Southern Oregon set up to lure movie productions and is packed with experienced actors and crew, being readily mined by Ray Robison of Medford, executive director of Southern Oregon Film & Media — and a colleague of Douglas going back 30 years in this area.
“The production is dropping $40,000 to $50,000 in the local economy, including lodging in VRBs up here, payments to cast and crew — and the crew is all from the Rogue Valley,” says Douglas.
Prospects look good, says, Rosengren, as the video streaming platforms, fount of all our video binging, are “crying for material now.”
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.