Southern Oregon filmmakers are hard at work capturing scenes at an Ashland retirement home for an independent movie called "Redwood Highway."
The film follows 75-year-old Marie on her 80-mile walk down the renowned stretch of road to lay eyes on the Pacific Ocean for the first time in more than four decades. "Two sticks and we need it low," mutters director Gary Lundgren, motioning to the cameraman before the scene comes together. "Cut! That's great. ... OK, get the leaves & quick break everyone."
The whine of a leaf blower drowns out everything until the leaves are rustled to perfection at the entrance to Mountain Meadows Retirement Community, then the actors reset, and the cameras refocus.
"Action!" Lundgren shouts.
Ashland-based production companies Jump Time Pictures, Joma Films and Elsewhere Films are producing "Redwood Highway," which should be wrapped up and ready for the big screen by July 2013, says producer and co-screenwriter James Twyman.
The crew plans to have a scaled-back version of the full-length film ready in time for April's Ashland Independent Film Festival, says Twyman, who owns Jump Time Pictures.
Lundgren, who owns Joma Films with his wife, Anne Lundgren, co-wrote the screenplay.
Friday was day nine of a 20-day filming schedule that has already taken the cast and film crew through Talent, Phoenix, Grants Pass and Cave Junction, says producer Gary Kout, who owns Elsewhere Films.
It should be the crew's last day in Ashland, Kout says.
"The movie is kind of like the greatest hits of the Redwood Highway," Kout says.
In the movie, the Ashland retirement home will be depicted as being in Grants Pass, where Marie, played by two-time Emmy Award-winning actor Shirley Knight, 76, begins her journey, Twyman says.
The film will also star Tom Skerritt, 79, who is known for roles in "Alien" and "Top Gun."
Producers would not reveal further details about the movie's plot.
On Friday, cast members James LeGros and Zena Grey, who play Marie's son and granddaughter, put in 12 hours outside Mountain Meadows.
"We've just discovered that Marie, my mother, is missing," says LeGros, who lives in both Los Angeles and New York City. "The shoots have been going well, so far."
LeGros, 50, is a former cast member of Ally McBeal, a TV series that ended in 2002.
"This is a beautiful place to shoot," says Grey, of New York City. "I had a chance to take a walk through Ashland. Everything is so colorful right now."
Grey, 23, is known for roles in "Snow Day" and "Max Keeble's Big Move."
Both actors agree now's a good time to be away from New York, as the city continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy.
The cast includes several actors from Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the crew includes a half-dozen interns from Southern Oregon University who are helping behind the scenes, Kout says.
The movie will be screened in about 2,000 retirement homes throughout the United States and Canada before it's released," says Twyman, because the story is geared toward an older audience.
"So often, our older generation gets told they can't do this, they can't do that," Twyman says. "We can all do whatever we set our minds to; your age isn't important. & The film carries an important theme for a senior audience."
In 2009, the Lundgrens and Kout collaborated to produce "Calvin Marshall," a full-length comedy about an unrefined baseball player, which was shot entirely in Southern Oregon.
"We have very supportive communities around here for filmmaking, which is great because most independent filmmaking happens in public," Kout says.
The movie "Night Moves," written and directed by Kelly Reichardt, is currently being filmed in Southern Oregon. Reichardt also directed the recent movie "Meek's Cutoff," also set in Oregon.
"This region is becoming known as a premier spot for filming independent movies," says Twyman. "You have having amazing locations, beautiful scenery, the people are friendly & it's everything you could ask for."
Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email@example.com.