By Stephanie Hoover & Crystal Foley Staff Writers
Beautiful panoramic vistas, warmer temperatures and a better lifestyle drew the crew of Road’s End Films from their original location in Colorado to their current space in Wilsonville, Oregon.
Sterling Fiock, the production designer and director of operations for the studio, said their location 20 minutes south of Portland has so much to offer, with the beach, mountains and major cities within an hour’s drive.
“There’s a lot of things going on here, and that’s why we built the studio. Because the studios you hear from, they’re booked out, you can’t get in,” Fiock said. “So we built ours a little further south, because we don’t want to compete with anyone; we want to collaborate and increase, not take away.”
Being in Oregon also allows them to tap into a large local talent pool, as they did for one of their latest projects, a series titled Runestone.
The Proof of Concept features 23 actors and 60 skill sets, mostly locals, who helped shoot on location, write scripts, build props, and create costuming. Casting was done by local casting director Lori Lewis.
The saga follows Norsemen, or Vikings, as they cross over the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Northwest in a journey that details their interactions with colorful local tribes. While the show is not based upon a single event, it is historically inspired and draws from lore in both the Norse and indigenous local culture.
Runestone came out of the team at Road’s End Films’ desire to take advantage of the resources they already had, Fiock said, which led them to come up with a few different historically-based story ideas.
“It is something that we could film here in the Pacific Northwest that was new and involving talent that we had available here, along with crew and equipment,” Fiock said. “So we created a few storylines that we thought would be interesting and then we narrowed those down and fleshed them out until we came up with the Runestone series.”
Some of the beauty they relocated to Oregon for can be found in Runestone’s trailer, much of which was shot on the coast at Hug Point in Oswald West State Park over six days. Fiock said this offered an interesting challenge, because the crew had about a six-hour window daily in which to shoot before the tide came in.
Natural beauty and a wealth of local talent may top the list, but they are certainly not the only advantages to filming in Oregon, Fiock said.
“One of the reasons for being in Oregon is the financial incentives provided by the governor’s growth potential, which has been assisted by the OMPA (Oregon Media Production Association) organization that we are also part of,” he said.
While Road’s End Films is their passion, Intersect Video, their studio space, pays the bills, primarily through corporate commercial work. They also rent out their studio space, do creative context creation and video translation.
The 6,500-square-foot facility features a 3,500-square-foot soundstage with the largest three-walled cyclorama publicly available in the Pacific Northwest. Other features include a two-wall cyclorama and a powered steel lighting grid.
One element Fiock said they’re particularly proud of might surprise you: Parking.
“[It’s] one thing that no one else has—and they can’t really say otherwise. You can’t get a crew there,” Fiock said, of other studios in the area. “Everyone has to park three or four blocks away and walk in. If we’re trying to shoot a production, there’s just no room.”
However, Road’s End Films and their studio, Intersect Video, are able to bring in the entire production team.
“We can literally bring in a 40-foot RV into our soundstage and put it into our green screen because we have a 45-foot-long by 25-feet-deep green cyclorama,” Fiock said.
The studio is made up of four people on a day-to-day basis, which means they are often working 80-hour weeks. However, Fiock said it is a lot of fun.
The team tapped into this local network for the Runestone series. A lot of research went into creating authentic costumes and props such as weaponry. To get the right effect, they used Wardrobe Design Studios out of Portland for the costumes and local artisans for the props. Special effects were also done locally, coordinated by Oregon-based Kai Shelton.
The series has not been picked up yet, however if it were to be, it would bring 100 to 140 jobs. They have a five-year story mark, with twelve episodes a season, meaning they would be in pre-production to post-production for six to nine months out of the year.
Road’s End Films has also produced four other shows and one feature-length film, and Fiock said he is hopeful the company will continue to help expand the local film scene.
“We’re tying into the community of the Pacific Northwest to try and add to the infrastructure of possibilities so that external based productions can come here and take advantage, so we can add jobs and maintain jobs for cast and crewmembers in the local area, who work the majority of the year,” Fiock said. “But we’re trying to get more work, more consistency for everybody.”