ASHLAND, Ore. – The Ashland Film Festival kicked off today, and premiering in this year’s event is a locally made film entitled: “Phoenix, Oregon”.
Phoenix, Oregon may seem like a strange place to set the scene of a movie to some, but to writer and director, Gary Lundgren, it was the perfect choice for what he says is a semi-autobiographical independent film.
“We’re not in Arizona, we’re in a small town where dreams can still happen, and the phoenix rises from the ashes, so it just felt like a good title,” Lundgren said.
“Phoenix, Oregon” centers around a frustrated comic book artist in the midst of a mid-life crisis. It highlights major themes like the power of friendship and the lack of control people sometimes feel over their lives.
“Many people who reach that mid-life crisis, there’s always that one thing that you always wanted to do, and you’ve never achieved,” actor, Jesse Borrego said. “It’s just that idea that something’s messing with you that you are not in control of your life especially when you get to the point in your life when there’s nothing left.”
“When you watch these characters, even though the movie’s funny and there’s a lot of comedy to it. I feel like pretty much anybody could grab one of the characters and be like yeah I’ve felt that before or I’m feeling that now,” actor and producer, Luis Rodriguez said.
Most scenes were filmed in Klamath falls due to logistics, but the cast says this movie still captures the feel of “the heart of the Rogue Valley”.
“we needed a bow-la-rama that had that old feel but could still feel classical and these guys kind of fix it up and I think the perfect location was not in Phoenix Oregon,” Borrego said. “A lot of times when you film on location it’s an illusion.”
These filmmakers say they’re hoping the movie shines a light on southern Oregon as a place where creativity can thrive.
“We get a tremendous amount of support here, we experienced nothing but enthusiasm from the get-go. We’re excited to share it with everybody here, and we plan to film a lot more movies in southern Oregon,” Rodriguez said.
Devin Gooden graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a Master’s degree in Sports Journalism.
She has spent most of her life in Atlanta, Georgia and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia in Business Management.
When she’s not reporting, Devin practices yoga, reads thriller novels and loudly cheers for her beloved Georgia Bulldawgs.