Made in the Rogue Valley
Afeature film DVD with Rogue Valley locations and actors will go on sale everywhere Sept. 21. "Calvin Marshall," starring Hollywood veterans Alex Frost and Steve Zahn and shot largely in Medford and Ashland, will be available to buy on Amazon.com or rent on netflix.com beginning that day. It's also available for pre-order at www.calvinmarshall.com.
For those who've seen the film, the DVD contains extra features, eight deleted scenes, several behind-the-scenes videos and commentary from director Gary Lundgren.
The film was written and directed by Lundgren and produced by his wife, Anne Lundgren. The couple, the principals in Joma Films, recently moved to Ashland after spending a lot of time in the valley shooting the movie beginning in 2007.
"We're really proud of it," Anne Lundgren says.
"Calvin Marshall" is a coming-of-age story about a wannabe ballplayer at a community college who clashes with his crusty coach and falls in love with the superstar of the women's volleyball team.
The New York Times said the movie captures "the way a timely hit in a softball game or a small gesture in a local bar becomes an indelible, fixed point in our memories." The Hollywood Reporter called the picture a "low-key gem" and said Zahn's performance was the best of his career.
"Calvin Marshall" was shown at the Ashland Independent Film Festival and had a short run at the Varsity Theatre in Ashland in April. Half a dozen screenings are planned around Oregon this fall, the nearest being at film festivals Eugene, Corvallis and Bend.
In addition to Zahn ("Riding in Cars With Boys," "That Thing You Do") and Frost ("Elephant," "Drillbit Taylor"), area theater buffs may recognize Catherine Coulson of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Coulson plays a no-nonsense bartender at the watering hole favored by Zahn's character. The role was rewritten for her when Gary Lundgren found out that the Log Lady from television's "Twin Peaks" was alive and well and living in Ashland.
Terri McMahon, another OSF actor, plays the volleyball player's mom. Doug Rowe, whose list of credits goes back decades in film and television, plays the grizzled barfly Skeeter.
The involvement of locals didn't stop with the actors. The movie employed more than 40 locals in the crew, including line producer Gary Kout of the Southern Oregon Film and Television group, and costume designer Claudia Everett.
There also were background actors and extras, more than 250 of them, for scenes of volleyball games, baseball stadiums, the college campus and a redneck bar.
"Oregon's a great place to shoot," Anne Lundgren says.
The Lundgrens shot an earlier film, "Wow and Flutter," a short subject, here in 2004. That picture was also an AIFF entry.
Anne says they'd like to shoot more films in Southern Oregon, plus they want to raise their 4-year-old daughter here. Gary is planning two classes he'll give locally, a screenwriting class beginning Sept. 21 and a directing class for November and December (see jomafilms.com/classes).
The Lundgrens had been trying to get the $2 million film produced since 2005, when it was nearly shot in New Mexico, but had trouble finding financing in the private equity markets. Executive Producer Mark Cunningham finally got it together, and by that time the location had shifted to Ashland/Medford as the fictional Bayford.
Baseball provides the movie's setting and background. Calvin's complication is that he has no talent whatsoever for the game. But he's in deep denial. This complicates his burgeoning romance with Tori, a hot volleyball player being wooed by scholarship-rich, major college programs. Not to mention complicating his relationship with Coach Little, an abusive, foul-mouthed drunk who, perhaps because he wasn't that good himself, has just the tiniest soft spot for Calvin.
"He just has a little heart in there somewhere," Anne Lundgren says.
Gary Lundgren played college baseball at College of San Mateo, a school with a rich baseball tradition (several of his teammates were drafted by major league teams). Like Calvin, he was a shortstop.
"I was good though," he says. "Not great. We're all a little delusional. You have to not look at the facts."
Gary Lundgren says his writing process on "Calvin" started from character, creating a world first and only then finding the narrative. Calvin's model is Honus Wagner, a speed-demon batting champion from the first two decades of the 20th century.
"It's from a time when the game was more pure," Gary says.
Anne says the company was lucky to get the film made when it did.
"Budgets were changing in 2007," Anne says. "$2 million was pretty low at the time, but now budgets are even lower. The next one will be under $1 million."
"Calvin Marshall" is rated R.
"It's the f-word," Anne Lundgren says. "You can only say it once and not be R-rated. It's in there 17 times."
The word is used by Coach Little, in whose speech it seems natural.
"It's the way it is," Anne says. "They (the ratings board) said they understand why it's in there, and they wouldn't tell us to change it. They said it'd be a great family movie without it."
The Lundgrens already have two other films in their sights, a horror film and a comedy.
Bill Varble is a freelance writer living in Medford. Reach him at email@example.com.