The late Catherine Coulson, a beloved Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor for 22 years — also famed as the Log Lady on TV’s “Twin Peaks” — will be the subject of a feature-length documentary incorporating interviews with local colleagues and video scenes from her many OSF roles.
Producer-director Richard Green was attracted to the project because, “It’s a great story … She’s an unsung American icon. Everyone knows the Log Lady. She’s one of the most celebrated actors in Ashland. She had an incredible career behind the camera, too.”
Coulson was a stalwart at fan festivals for “Twin Peaks,” a ‘90s mystery-horror series, and was key, Green said, to keeping up popular interest for a 2017 reboot of the series. It was directed by noted surreal filmmaker David Lynch.
Dying of cancer in 2015 at the age of 71, Coulson, in her Ashland home, shot scenes of the Log Lady also dying in the Twin Peaks reboot.
The documentary, “I Know Catherine, The Log Lady,” is being funded on Kickstarter with a goal of $250,000, of which $102,839 was pledged by Thursday, from 671 backers. It has 15 days to go and must reach the goal or it gets nothing.
Greene, who played the magician in Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive,” said the funds will, in part, be used to pay for use of footage from Twin Peaks as well as OSF plays and will remunerate actors in those scenes.
Coulson’s parents were in Hollywood showbiz when she was a child — her father especially connected to Disneyland — and, said Greene, he’s been able to find old audio and photos of her doing acting bits and learned that she played Snow White and Cinderella in Disneyland pageants.
Coulson’s storied career took her to many cinematographic roles, including behind-the-scenes work with the camera crews on “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” Her Imdb credit lists her as first assistant cameraman and “she learned sound, dollies and camera on the set of ‘Eraserhead,’” directed by Lynch, and was, Greene says, a pioneer as a woman on film crews.
Greene said that, in telling her life story, he will be able to integrate OSF scenes that “resonate” with the narrative being told. At OSF, Coulson acted in more than 50 plays, including “The Magic Fire,” “By the Waters of Babylon” and “Dead Man’s Cell Phone.”
“She was a community and spiritual leader, long before MeToo, she forged her own way and succeeded,” said Greene. “We need to celebrate heroes, people who stayed on the path and stayed the course and had an impact on people’s lives.”
The film has no distribution planned, but might go to Amazon and Netflix, he said, adding “It will be very accessible.” However, he cautioned, producing the film hangs on the success of the Kickstarter appeal (online at kck.st/2kFDLQT).
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.