Effort underway to add Klamath Falls to Oregon Film Trail

Historic marker to recognize film “Phoenix, Oregon”

Klamath Film has spearheaded an effort to add Klamath Falls to the Historic Oregon Film Trail – adding a marker on downtown Klamath Falls’ Main Street in front of The Daily Bagel in recognition of the film “Phoenix, Oregon.”

Launched through a partnership between the Oregon Film Office and the OregonMade Creative Foundation, the Historic Oregon Film Trail has placed community-backed markers identifying sites of historically-relevant films across the state – more than 30 in total to date. Most markers are in the Willamette Valley or along the Oregon Coast, though two were recently unveiled earlier this year in Ashland in recognition of the films “Wild” and “Coraline.” The purpose of the markers are to highlight notable films and the communities in which they were made in an effort to drive tourism and recognize film heritage, while collaborating with local travel organizations and chambers of commerce.

The effort requires $1,300 to be raised in the community to cover the marker’s construction. Community organizations such as Klamath Falls City Council, Klamath County Commissioners, Klamath Falls Downtown Association, and Soroptimist International of Klamath Falls have presented public support for the project.

Though over 10 different feature films dating back to the silent film era have been created in Klamath County, the film selected to be placed in Klamath Falls is the most recent to have been shot in the region – 2018’s “Phoenix, Oregon.” An independent film created by the team behind Ashland-based Joma Films, the film signed a distribution deal for national theatrical and online release for March of this year.

The timing of the film’s release coincided with a national shutdown order of all movie theaters due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, which left “Phoenix, Oregon” as one of the few new films released capable of garnering box office revenue thanks to its online campaign. This ironically made “Phoenix, Oregon” the no. 1 film in domestic box office, and also the only eligible film to rank, by default the top-grossing film in America. It also holds the inauspicious mark as being the lowest-grossing film to ever claim the top film spot in the country since records have been kept.

Though named for the Medford suburb community of Phoenix, the film was wholeheartedly a Klamath County effort. The 2018 production of “Phoenix, Oregon” was a true community effort shot primarily at Italianna’s Ristorante, Hanscam’s Bowling Alley and The Daily Bagel, with much of its supporting cast and crew comprised of Klamath residents. The film’s director/writer team, Gary and Annie Lundgren and Luis Rodriguez of Joma Films, met the production’s eventual financial backers at the 2016 Klamath Independent Film Festival while their previous film “Black Road” was being showcased. A partnership was soon struck, adding Ryan Niemi, Kim Piper and Ben Piper as producers. Additional locations that played prominent roles in the film’s completion, both on-camera and behind-the-scenes, included the Cerulean Hotel, Rodeo’s Pizzeria and Saladeria, Silver Tip Mobile Home Park, Waffle Hut, Rooster’s Steak and Chop House, and Pacific Crest Credit Union.

“’Phoenix, Oregon’ is a great example of a locally produced film that has national notoriety, that showcases our talent, our locations and Oregon’s long history of storytelling,” said Tim Williams, executive director of Oregon Film. “All of these pieces make it a valuable film to Oregon and the perfect choice for recognition on the Film Trail.” 

“It is the fourth Southern Oregon-produced feature film from Ashland-based husband and wife filmmaking team Annie and Gary Lundgren, and although its title helps celebrate the small town of Phoenix, OR the choice of shooting location brought spending, jobs and visibility to Klamath Falls,” added Williams.

While the marker will celebrate Klamath’s film production past, momentum is building for a bright film industry in the region, as multiple feature film productions are tentatively slated to shoot in Klamath County in 2021. The earliest feature film is scheduled to begin production in February, bringing big name actors to the community while injecting hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local community through jobs, lodging, catering, local cast and crew hires, site use fees, and taxes.

The Oregon Film office is planning on expanding the Oregon Film Trail program to include film-themed travel packages and a digital AR program highlighting each community in which a marker has been placed. For more information about the Oregon Film Trail visit www.historicoregonfilmtrail.com.

To support the Oregon Film Trail effort, donate here – or contact us at info@klamathfilm.org.



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