A film titled “Phoenix, Oregon,” shot in Klamath Falls in 2018, will make history on Saturday as the latest movie featured on the historic Oregon Film Trail in a day-long celebration of filmmaking in the Klamath Basin.
Presented by Klamath Film, activities are being offered both as an in-person event and available via livestream for $10. Festivities include the unveiling of the historic marker, a talk with the film’s director and producers, a screening of the film, and afterwards a question-and-answer session with some of the film’s cast. Events will begin at 1 p.m. outside of The Daily Bagel, followed by the film screening at the Ross Ragland Theater at 2 p.m., and the Q&A to follow.
The film, made on a small independent budget in collaboration with Klamath-based film producers, local businesses as filming locations, and many local residents comprising extras and supporting cast, gained great notoriety in 2020 when it improbably became the top-grossing film in the country on its week of release – a rare feat for an independent production. Its ranking comes with a large asterisk, as its release both in theaters and online coincided with all theaters in the country being shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, resulting in “Phoenix, Oregon” being the only film eligible for box office revenue numbers.
In recognition of the film’s unlikely rise to the top of box office rankings and the independent filmmaking spirit, in December the film was selected by the Oregon Film Office for designation on the historic Oregon Film Trail. The Film Trail is a network of recognizable signage placed in many iconic filming locations across the state, stitching together film history, communities, and celebrating Oregon’s contribution to filmmaking since 1904.
The sign to be placed in Klamath Falls is the 33rd historic marker designated in the State of Oregon, but only the third in Southern Oregon – two were placed in Ashland in 2020. Additionally, the program has created a large exhibit and mural at the Portland International Airport honoring Oregon’s film legacy.
The Oregon Film Trail marker identifies the making of the film “Phoenix, Oregon” as well as other notable films at least partially made in Klamath County. The markers serve as an economic driver and recognition of cultural heritage and are actively promoted as tourist stops for film fans. The Oregon Film Trail markers are intended to strengthen the correlation between the film/TV industry and Oregon communities for its economic and cultural impact. The Oregon Film Trail — conceived and organized by the Oregon Made Creative Foundation — has invited numerous Oregon communities to partner on the installation of Trail markers in all seven regions of the state.
The marker is to be placed outside of The Daily Bagel on Main Street in downtown Klamath Falls, one of the key filming locations for the film. Other local sites appearing in the film include Italianna’s Ristorante, Silver Tip Mobile Home Park, Hanscam’s Bowling Alley, Rodeo’s Pizzeria, and a warehouse owned by Fireserve that was repurposed as a soundstage.
At a Tuesday, Feb. 16 Klamath Falls City Council meeting, Mayor Carol Westfall signed a formal proclamation declaring Feb. 27 as “Oregon Film Trail Marker Designation Day” in Klamath Falls, encouraging citizens to support the activities associated with the marker’s unveiling and community opportunities to have films produced locally or simply celebrated by events promoted within the City of Klamath Falls.
The film stars James Le Gros, Jesse Borrego, Lisa Edelstein, Diedrich Bader, Kevin Corrigan, Reynaldo Gallegos and Luis Rodriguez. The film was directed by Gary Lundgren. It follows two friends who quit their jobs following a mid-life crisis to revive a shuttered bowling alley and sell specialty pizzas.
The director/producer tandem behind the film was recently honored at the OMPA Awards in January in recognition of their 2020 charity work raising thousands of dollars through virtual screenings of “Phoenix, Oregon” to support struggling Oregon restaurants, theaters, and wildfire victims.
Tickets for the film screening are $10 and will provide both a virtual ticket to watch the event livestreams via Eventive and access to the Ross Ragland Theater for the in-person screening on a first-come first-serve basis. Tickets can be purchased at www.rrtheater.org or www.klamathfilm.org.
The “Phoenix, Oregon” historic marker and events are the latest effort by Klamath Film, which since 2012 has worked diligently to promote and support a filmmaking culture in the Klamath Basin while connecting the community to film. The organization among its varied programs coordinates an annual youth summer film camp, provides special film screenings throughout the year, offers professional film equipment available to its members to check-out for free, monthly membership meetings for networking and educational purposes, and the aforementioned Klamath Independent Film Festival. Klamath Film also serves as the official film liaison office of Klamath County — purposed with assisting film, television, and commercial productions interested in filming in the Klamath Basin. For more information or to become a Klamath Film member, visit www.klamathfilm.org.
For more information about the Oregon Film Trail visit www.historicoregonfilmtrail.com.