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Magazine names Ashland among best locales to work as filmmaker

For the sixth year in a row, MovieMaker Magazine has named the scenic town of Ashland in its annual ranking of the best places to live and work as a filmmaker in the United States.

This year, Ashland placed sixth in the magazine’s Small Cities and Towns category, competing well against larger markets including New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

The magazine chose Ashland due to its picturesque filming locations, such as Lithia Park and Mt. Ashland, and because of the increase in moviemakers and actors moving to the area. Film students in the region can also take advantage of the Digital Cinema curriculum in the Communication program at Southern Oregon University.

“Because Ashland is a small, connected community, our students get tremendous benefits by learning filmmaking here,” said Digital Cinema professor Andrew Gay. “Filmmakers in the region enthusiastically support our student population with internships and PA gigs, helping them build skills that transfer to sets in larger markets such as Portland and Los Angeles.”

Gary Lundgren produced the coming-of-age film “Calvin Marshall” in the Rogue Valley in 2009, and has always seen Ashland as a welcoming community for filmmakers.

“When we made ‘Calvin Marshall’ in 2007, we employed quite a few first-timers and promoted people within their departments,” Lundgren told MovieMaker magazine. “A lot of those people are still friends of ours and have careers in bigger markets now, like Portland or Atlanta.”

Lundgren tries to contribute to Ashland’s positive and welcoming vibe by hiring a few first-timers whenever he’s assembling a crew for one of his films, such as his latest project, “Phoenix, Oregon,” a comedy about two friends who open a bowling alley and pizzeria.

MovieMaker magazine is geared toward the art and business of filmmaking, and claims to be the world’s most widely read independent film magazine. It was founded in 1993 in Seattle, but is now headquartered in Burbank, California.

Story by SOU student writer Sophie Passerini