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Alternative Ideas Create Commerce

Spiritual economy flourishes


Conversations with God,&

a movie based on the bestselling book about a local man who lifted himself out of dire straights through his so-called talks with God, has recently finished filming in Ashland. But the economic impact of filming the movie here remains.

Gary Kout, the production manager for the upcoming film, said it contributed more than $850,000 to Ashland&

s economy and another $364,000 to the greater Rogue Valley area.


We were all very eager to spend locally,&

Kout said. &

Hopefully the community sees the benefit.&

Mary Pat Parker, spokesperson for the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, said the boost was particularly helpful because it came during early winter, when Ashland&

s economic engine is not traditionally running on all of its cylinders. &

Conversations with God&

filmed in Ashland from Nov. 7 to Dec. 9, according to Kout.

Parker and Kout both mentioned the economic logic that says every one dollar spent locally actually amounts to several local dollars being generated. &

Any time a dollar comes in, it turns over three times,&

Parker said. &

One purchase benefits three of four people you don&

t see.&

In terms of putting local people to work, &

Conversations with God&

gave employment to 40 actors, 30 to 40 crew members and some 200 local extras, Kout said. The crew members made $100 a day. Actors who had a speaking role took in $500. While extras only earned $7.25 an hour, the state minimum wage, everyone was treated to complimentary breakfast and lunch, plus a daily per diem stipend $25 to $30 a day.

The movie dished out $39,000 in per diem stipends while filming in the area. Kout said, &


m pretty positive 90 percent of that stayed in town, though there is virtually no way of corroborating that.&

The filming also brought many more employees to town. But these hires contributed to the local economy, as well. &

Some of them lived in town for up to eight weeks,&

Kout said.

The movie put out-of-town employees up at the Ashland Springs Hotel, the Ashland Motel, the Delauney House and Abbotts Cottages.


We had 12 rental units,&

Kout said, noting that the movie spent $62,000 on lodging. &

Just in rentals alone we spent a lot of coin in the city.&

Two out-of-town employees, he said, have even decided to move to Ashland since coming here to work on the movie.

The cast and crew also spent a good deal of time and money in Ashland&

s restaurants. &


m pretty sure there&

s not a restaurant in town we didn&

t eat at least once,&

Kout said, but added that Pangea and Pasta Piatti were among their favorites. He said the crew ate at Pangea &

probably two or three times a week.&

Though most of the production&

s catering was done by an outfit from Bend, Zoey&

s cafe provided the catering for a day in which 400 extras were used for a scene filmed at Ashland High School.

The city of Ashland and other local government institutions also made a chunk of change from having &

Conversations with God&

filmed here. Kout said Ashland was paid &

a little over $1,000&

in location permits. The Ashland Parks department was paid some $500, said Kout, for scenes filmed in city parks, and the Ashland School District was paid in the neighborhood of $1,500 for scenes shot on school property.

Kout said the biggest boost to Ashland&

s economy from &

Conversations with God&

could come well after the movie is released. He said movie locations often become destinations for fans of the film.


People will want to see where Neale (Donald Walsch, author of the book and inspiration for the movie) got a job and where he wrote his book,&

Kout said. &

That effect will be around for as long as the movie is.&

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x 226 or bplain@dailytidings.com.