By Anita Gomez
Everyone likes to talk about the large-scale productions and big-budget films and TV shows that come to Oregon. But for those who live and work in the Oregon production industry, the day-to-day local and smaller-budget productions, TV and web commercials, and corporate videos keep bread on the table. And much of that everyday creative action is happening in Southern Oregon.
Leading the pack of companies that return time and again to shoot in Southern Oregon is Emotion Studios. Their work for clients such as Nike, Adobe and Hewlett-Packard takes them around the world, but they’ve shot many of their recent HP spots in Southern Oregon.
“Shooting in Southern Oregon is like coming home to me,” says Glen Janssens, a CEO and director now based in San Francisco but who previously lived in Southern Oregon. “The combination of incredible crew, talent, the wide variety of stunning locations (and great food!) make Ashland and the Rogue Valley among my favorite places to shoot. And… a macchiato from Case [Coffee] rivals any that I’ve ever had.”
Budweiser recently shot a high-profile spot in Southern Oregon. “One of the reasons was the 50-plus acres of private land my family owns. It made it easy for Budweiser to stage whatever they needed, including a large bonfire,” explains Tyler Maddox, owner of Maddox Visual Productions, who appeared in the spot. Other locations for the spot included the film-friendly Medford/Jackson County Airport and the City of Jacksonville. The spot’s production company hired many local crew.
Southern Oregon sees a lot of production for the auto industry, thanks to its incredible array of environments and roads. The C2 Ranch outside of Eagle Point was recently scouted for Subaru, and Crater Lake and the coast have been locations for Mercedes, Ford and more. Lithia Motors, headquartered in Medford, which grew from a single car dealership in 1946 to one of America’s largest chains of automotive dealerships, shoots almost all of their dealer spots and running packages in Southern Oregon, using local talent both in front of and behind the camera.
One local company doing work for both local and national clients is the aforementioned Maddox Visual Productions. With 15 years of experience in the industry, their list of recent clients include Husky Liners, Motorcycle USA, Goodwill Industries, Motorcycle Superstore, Bell Helmets, Brammo Electric Motorcycles, and Harry & David. Maddox Visual Productions is situated on large rural ranch property that Tyler Maddox’s family owns in Jacksonville. The complex includes a 1,650-square-foot studio with a 3-sided cyc wall studio. Combined with the only 5-ton grip truck in Southern Oregon and an inventory of rental camera gear, Maddox is keeping many members of the production industry in Southern Oregon busy.
In the agency world, Lanphier Associates in Medford is one of the region’s largest. With 27 years of experience in marketing and advertising, Lanphier provides a range of creative services, including print, web, branding, radio and television for their clients, which include Premier West Bank, Cascade Wood Products, Pacific Retirement Services, and many others.
Adding to the list of local creative agencies and production companies that aggressively pursue commercial and corporate work using a diverse set of skills and experience is Sights & Sounds. The event production company used their 25 years of experience, combined with their video production chops, to assist the show Wheel of Fortune when it came to the area.
The beauty of Southern Oregon is not just a draw for commercial clients. It’s also a region that attracts creative people from around the country to take advantage of its great locations, experienced crews, abundant acting talent, and cost-friendly resources. Feature film company Joma Films relocated from Los Angeles and diversified into marketing work for Mondavi Wines, eMyth, and the Ashland Independent Film Festival, among others. Fraser Film Group principal Todd Wilson relocated from Atlanta, bringing clientele like Leica Geosystems and Sauce Labs in tow and producing their spots in Southern Oregon.
Commercial work demands high creativity requiring quality crew and the top tools of the industry, and both are in strong supply in Southern Oregon. Lotus Motion Pictures, one of the new kids on the production scene, owns one of the EPIC Dragons available for rental. Other high-end cameras that can be found in the area are the Black Magic, Canon C500, and Sony FS700 with Odyssey 4K recorder. Jib arms, steadicams, MōVIs, drones and more are also available locally. Reel House Films, owner of a 30-foot jib arm, will soon be reopening a 5,000-square-foot soundstage with large green screen cyc wall.
Rocky Garrotto, who co-owns the Odyssey gear with Sights & Sounds, exemplifies the strong and multi-talented crew that live and work in Southern Oregon. “In a smaller market, you have to wear many hats. I shoot, 1st AC, light, grip and edit. Because of those diverse skills, I have been able to work on a variety of productions, ranging from in-house training videos to local car commercials to complex shoots for HP and Leica.” Garrotto, who is listed as a Location Scout/Manager in the area’s online industry directory hosted by Southern Oregon Film and Media, recently scouted for L.L. Bean. The clothing retailer came to shoot their 2015 Fall Catalogue on local BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands.
Whether it’s for the web, TV, or any of the many growing outlets for video marketing, production is booming in Southern Oregon and growing every year. Quality creative talent is attracting attention, further strengthening the region’s reputation as a great place to live and work as a filmmaker. For information contact Southern Oregon Film and Media (SOFaM) via its website, www.filmsouthernoregon.org, or e-mail email@example.com.
Anita Gomez is a freelance writer living in Grants Pass, OR.