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Gov. Kitzhaber Touts Oregon Film Industry

By Mandy Valencia

Mail Tribune

ASHLAND — A crowd composed of student filmmakers, Southern Oregon University film and digital media staff, as well as members of Southern Oregon Film and Television gathered Tuesday night in the Hannon Library on the campus of SOU in Ashland, to attend the Annual Oregon Film Meeting teleconference with Gov. John Kitzhaber.

About 80 people filled the Meese Room to hear from speakers such as Carrie Brownstein, star of the television show Portlandia, and two-time academy award nominee and filmmaker Gus Van Sant before Kitzhaber shared his thoughts about the state of Oregon filmmaking.

“Having a partnership like this is really important for our vision of Southern Oregon University,” said Mary Cullinan, president of SOU to those in attendance in Ashland.

Before Kitzhaber took the podium, Gordon Sondland, chairman of the Oregon Film Board, announced that while the final figures for 2012 are not yet calculated, the film industry spent $130 million in 2011 in the state of Oregon.

“None of it would be possible without the strong leadership of the governor,” Sondland said.

More and more of the film and television industry are calling Oregon home, and that’s a good thing, Kitzhaber said. Included in those industries are digital media and animation companies.

“For a state that had 10.6 percent unemployment, this industry is helping that a lot,” he said. “My commitment to you is to keep Oregon a haven for creative people and innovators.”

After the governor spoke, representatives from Eugene and La Grande were invited to speak about updates in their cities via teleconference. After which, Anne Ashbey, the executive director of the Ashland Independent Film Festival, took to the podium in Lincoln Hall at Portland State University where the conference was being broadcast from and spoke about new partnerships with the emerging media and digital arts program at SOU.

Ashbey then introduced Robert Arellano, associate professor and director of the Center for Emerging Media at SOU, and local producer Gary Kout, who also is the executive director of Southern Oregon Film and Television, to speak to those in attendance about the latest in film and media in Southern Oregon.

Kout debuted the trailer for his latest project, “Redwood Highway.” for those attending the teleconference in Portland, Eugene and La Grande.

“Our members were very busy in 2012 making all manner of content from local and regional commercials and corporate films, documentaries, short films and feature films,” Kout said.

Ashland had the highest in attendance via teleconference and Kout hopes when people think of Oregon film Portland isn’t the only region that comes to mind.

“We should all be exceptionally proud of our crews and casts,” Kout said. “Southern Oregon is a great place for film and media production.”

Reach reporter Mandy Valencia at 541-776-4486 or

This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.

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