By Ginny Auer Executive Director, Southern Oregon Film and Media (SOFaM)
Photo by Sean Bagshaw
When thinking of Ashland, most people’s minds go to the Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the powder atop the slopes of Mt. Ashland or the many local wineries and breweries. But after a third year in a row on the list of best places to live and work as a filmmaker in MovieMaker Magazine, Ashland’s reputation as a filmmaking hub is solid as well.
Ashland was recognized by MovieMaker Magazine as the #2 Town to Live and Work as a MovieMaker in the nation for 2014, and then was honored with a bump to #1 in January of 2015! In 2016, MovieMaker changed the criteria for the award to combine small cities and towns. Ashland beat out film hubs with populations of more than 150,000 and more robust incentive packages, ranking at #5 on the list this year. How is it that this small town of 20,000 is getting such accolades? MovieMaker cited “a bustling culinary scene, a no-big box store policy (and no state sales tax!), film festivals, independent theaters and a super-supportive film organization called Southern Oregon Film and Media (SOFaM).”
SOFaM supports the local film industry by promoting the region to both local and out-of-area producers, and works to connect productions with local film professionals, actors, equipment and resources via its online directory. With its large database and deep reach across the entire region, SOFaM is a great place to start for any film or media project.
In recent years, Ashland has shown up on big and small screens quite a bit. Wild, with Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon, featured the downtown area, as well as nearby sections of the scenic Pacific Crest Trail. Ashland was also seen in Night Moves with Jesse Eisenberg and then again in the locally-produced independent film Black Road. Companies like Hewlett-Packard and even John Deere are finding Southern Oregon a great place to film.
Ashland has a film-friendly community, with low- to no-cost permits, strong state incentives, no sales tax and unexpectedly large numbers of filmmakers, technicians, equipment, support services and on-screen talent.
And then there are the kinds of resources you don’t expect to find in a town this size. Beyond the talented performers that join the Oregon Shakespeare Festival each year, OSF’s costume rental shop is just as impressive. The shop is the size of a football field with costumes from nearly every era, and it regularly rents to theaters, film and TV productions across the country, including Saturday Night Live.
Ashland is in the center of a filmmaker’s goldmine. Southern Oregon boasts a unique and beautiful coastline, high desert to the east, and many small towns with a host of unique venues for shooting. Medford, situated at the heart of the region, is the location of an airport with direct flights to and from Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake City and Phoenix. When taken as a whole, the MovieMaker designation of Ashland as a best place to live and be a filmmaker really applies to all of Southern Oregon.
Cameras are rolling in Southern Oregon like never before and SOFaM extends an invitation for new and returning filmmakers to join in and see what all the buzz is about!