The 18th and 19th signs on the Oregon Film Trail are now installed in the City of Ashland – they celebrate the town’s starring role in “Wild” and the historic Oregon Shakespeare Festival as inspiration for “Coraline”. The signs are now located in the Downtown Plaza, and at the intersection of Pioneer Street and East Main Street in front of OSF’s Black Swan Theatre and the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.
Historic downtown Ashland featured prominently in “Wild”, the highly acclaimed 2014 film adaptation of the best-selling book, starring Reese Witherspoon as Oregon author Cheryl Strayed. The story chronicles Strayed’s transformative solo hike along a 1,100-mile stretch of the iconic Pacific Crest Trail, which spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. Nearly 60 Oregon locations were used in “Wild”, in addition to areas of Ashland. When Witherspoon’s character emerges from hiking following a particularly difficult section of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Downtown Plaza doubled as a community-gathering place to mourn the death of the Grateful Dead icon Jerry Garcia.
A fictionalized version of Ashland inspired the setting of the animated feature, Coraline, the first stop-motion film from Oregon-based Laika Studios, and adapted from Neil Gaiman’s novella of the same name. “Coraline” was written and directed by Henry Selick, who decided early on to move the film’s setting from England to the U.S. Having already visited Ashland, he was inspired by the small, desirable southern Oregon city and said it gave the story, “an authenticity that made this fantasy believable“. The film tells the story of Coraline, a young girl living in a small and charming town, complete with a Shakespeare Festival that permeates the culture and wonder of the community, who finds a door leading to a parallel reality.
The location of multiple productions, Ashland has been named a “best place to live and work as a moviemaker” by MovieMaker Magazine and boasts many additional credits, including Kelly Reichardt’s, “Night Moves”, and several films from the Oregon-based Director and Producer team, Gary and Anne Lundgren, most notably; “Redwood Highway”, “Black Road”, and “Calvin Marshall”. (They also produced “Phoenix, Oregon”, set in the town of the same name close to Ashland that was tragically burned in the recent Almeda Fire. The producers started a fundraiser for the town residents.) Ashland is also home to the world-class Ashland Independent Film Festival and AIFF Film Center, which offer year-round independent film programming and education, and Southern Oregon University’s Digital Cinema production program.
These signs are a collaborative partnership between the Governor’s Office of Film & Television (A.K.A. Oregon Film), partnered with the Oregon Made Creative Foundation and was paid for in part by a grant from Travel Oregon, a grant from the City of Ashland facilitated by Andrew Gay, Associate Professor & Program Coordinator Digital Cinema at Southern Oregon University, in partnership with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and with support from Film Southern Oregon. Oregon Film in partnership with the Oregon Made Creative Foundation and Astoria Warrenton
Chamber of Commerce created the Oregon Film Trail concept. It features signage located at strategic filming locations around the state. The Trail aims to strengthen the correlation between the film/television industry, economic development, and tourism, and to celebrate unique Oregon locations that are iconic in their own right.
“It’s with great pride that we are able to recognize even a small quotient of Ashland’s contribution
to Oregon’s film and creative culture,” said Tim Williams, Executive Director of Oregon Film, “these signs will help us all mark the value Ashland’s unique creative community both here in Oregon and internationally.”
Andrew Gay, Associate Professor of Digital Cinema at Southern Oregon University and former board president of Film Southern Oregon said, “While Ashland is probably best known for its theatre scene, we also have a thriving film culture and community, and joining the Oregon Film Trail is a wonderful way to celebrate our varied connections to the arts,” Andrew Gay said. “Whether filming on location or in town to catch the latest independent release at the Ashland Independent Film Festival, this town is a wonderful destination for filmmakers and film-lovers alike.”
“We at OSF are excited that the continued legacy and inspiration of OSF’s live theatrical venues will be acknowledged in this way”, said David Schmitz, OSF Executive Director. “As the flagship repertory theatre company in the United States, we are thrilled that new media and heritage projects like this are finding inspiration from one another. Celebrating the place Ashland holds in film will no doubt connect new audiences and visitors to all the wonderful arts, culture and outdoor experiences that Ashland and Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley are known for.”
Andy Neal, Board President of Film Southern Oregon and a graduate of Southern Oregon University’s Digital Cinema Program said: “Ashland is a magical place that inspires creativity from those who spend time here. As a destination for film production, Ashland boasts many unique settings, a creative and collaborative culture, along with a diverse community of filmmakers and production professionals eager to create content that inspires. Bringing the Oregon Film Trail to Ashland, recognizing the legacy of ‘Wild’ and ‘Coraline’ in this community, and celebrating its
creative culture will inspire future filmmakers to create in Ashland and in beautiful Southern Oregon.”
Visitors and fans of other movies such as “Twilight”, “The Goonies”, “Point Break”, “Free Willy”, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, “Stand By Me”, “Kindergarten Cop”, “City Girl”, “Short Circuit”, “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey”, “The General”, and “Animal House”, among so many others, have been coming to Oregon since these films were first released. Some of these Trail signs can be seen in; Astoria, Gleneden Beach, Ecola State Beach, Hammond Marina/Warrenton, Brownsville, Athena, Depoe Bay, Silver Falls State Park, and Salem among others. For a complete list visit, the Oregon Film Trail map.
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