Local film office draws money, attention to Central Oregon
Recent shoots include Netflix shows, music video
When John Carter Cash came to town to shoot his music video, the Central Oregon Film Office spent hours finding the right backdrop for the shoot.
It had to be remote and have a large tree with snow-capped mountains in the background.
After scouting for two weeks, Sandy Henderson, executive director of the Central Oregon Film Office, found just the spot that would showcase his music the best: a forest road a mile into the Deschutes National Forest.
“I’ve had some sleepless nights over the locations,” Henderson said. “The director had specific demands of wide open spaces and High Desert scenery with stunning mountain views.”
Central Oregon’s landscapes — vast amounts of sunny days, deserts, snowy slopes and wildflower fields — are attributes the film office regularly touts to would-be media makers. Filming brought $1.4 million in direct spending over the past two years to Central Oregon and untold millions of indirect spending from the publicity, Henderson said. The film office is funded by grants from the Oregon Film Office, the Central Oregon Visitors Association, Visit Bend, Deschutes County and U.S. Bank, she said.
Statewide, the film industry in Oregon brought more than $200 million in spending and employed 3,500 people in part due to the success of several large productions, according to the state film office.
Bend and Ashland are two places that lure film production crews because of beer, buds, cuisine and activities, said Tim Williams, Oregon Film Office executive director.
“They’re cool towns and are great places to eat and stay. The talent love these places,” Williams said. “It’s a lifestyle thing that the talent like to play right into.”
When Sycan Media wanted to shoot two episodes of the “Brotherhood of Brew,” an adventure show, they reached out to Henderson for help, said Jeff Coxen, Sycan media owner and executive producer.
“She was out of town while we were there, but she went out of her way to get us some contacts,” Coxen said. “Of all the film offices I’ve worked with, she was super fun.”
Pitching Central Oregon to film productions is a full-time job, but one that Henderson knows from her years in the business in Los Angeles. She knows the community will reap benefits in terms of jobs, a diversified economy and garnering attention as a tourist destination.
“The film industry is recession-proof and (a) year-round industry,” Henderson said. “I get really passionate about this because I love what I do. Film productions drop a significant amount of money and spend a lot of time here locally. But we don’t have a big crew base here.”
Most of the film shoots here so far have been videos, commercials or short independent films, she said. The area is not ready for the big-budget films because there’s not enough specialized crew here or infrastructure support in place yet, she said.
“I believe that Central Oregon Film Office is key to helping Central Oregon realize the potential of being a world-class location for film and paid content production, being abundantly blessed as we are with a vast array of natural resources and backdrops of almost every kind,” said John McLeod, president of Mt. Bachelor ski area and a film office board member. “Within our community we also have the necessary infrastructure including lodging, talent, content production and support services from which to build another successful industry for the benefit of the Bend and Central Oregon economy.”
The film industry often relies upon Henderson’s ties to the business community to find local talent to apply makeup or drive vehicles, help the producers or make the food on location.
“We offer such a plethora of amazing locations, everything but an ocean,” Henderson said. “Film producers want to know about the location. It’s a different mind-set, like looking at a place through a director’s lens.”
Mandy Butera, a Bend makeup artist, worked on the John Carter Cash music video, making the actors look like dirty cowboys, right down to the dirt under their fingernails. The five cowboys in the film had to look like they were out on the range for months.
“Film work is character work,” said Butera, who owns Wren and Wild on Greenwood Avenue, a yoga and beauty shop. “As a makeup artist you want to make people feel authentic and feel good about the experience.”
When John Carter Cash was shooting the Western-themed music video, Henderson was on-site to answer questions and to ensure no damage was done to the environment.
“If it wasn’t for her (Henderson), we wouldn’t have had as smooth a shoot or got what we needed,” said April Kimbrell, a freelance producer who worked with the director David McClister. “If it wasn’t for a local contact that understand the business and contacts, it would have been more work and energy on my shoulders. There’s a lot of logistics that put things together.”
— Reporter: 541-633-2117, firstname.lastname@example.org