Ashland movie extras wait in the cold and rain for the crew to set up the next shot during the filming of “Calvin Marshall,” a baseball movie, in Ashland's North Mountain Park. The movie stars Steve Zahn, Diedrich Bader and Alex Frost. - Bob Pennell

'Picture's up; ROLLING!'

A big guy in a gray and green softball uniform hits a slow dribbler and breaks for first base as a little guy watches. Director Gary Lundgren wants to see it again.

"Picture's up," comes the call. "Rolling."

This time the batter hits a pop fly to shallow center. Next time a sharp grounder. Then another pop-up. Another grounder.

Like baseball, the shooting of movies mixes a lot of standing around with moments of great concentration. "Calvin Marshall," a baseball movie being shot around Medford and Ashland, is no exception.

The film brings husband and wife team Gary and Anne Lundgren, the principals of Broken Sky Films, back to the Rogue Valley, where they shot the award-winning short film "Wow and Flutter" in 2004. Gary wrote the picture and is directing. Anne and Michael Matondi are producing.

"We love it here," Anne Lundgren says, waving at an unsettled sky. "You don't get these clouds in the other places we could have shot."

Locations include Southern Oregon University, the Rogue Valley Family Fun Center in Central Point, the Whiskey River Cafe and Lounge outside White City.

Line Producer Gary Kout, a Los Angeles transplant now living in Ashland, says he bragged to the Lundgrens and Matondi about the region's film-friendly locations and environment.

This day, grip and lighting company trucks from Portland and Seattle crowd the parking lot near the softball fields at Ashland's North Mountain Park. Traffic cones keep the public away. Power cables snake around sidewalks and grass, video monitors flicker, and people mill about. Principal photography began Nov. 11 and will continue through Dec. 14. The picture could be in theaters by late 2008.

Calvin Marshall is a sophomore at fictional Bayford City College, where he wants to make the baseball team. He's long on determination but short on skills.

In this scene, Calvin, portrayed by Alex Frost, is playing on the city softball team along with a pal played by Diedrich Bader.

Frost is a Portland native now based in Los Angeles. He appeared in Gus Van Sant's "Elephant" and is in the coming Owen Wilson film "Drillbit Taylor." Bader is familiar from his roles on "The Drew Carey Show" and "Napolean Dynamite."

Calvin's love interest, Tori, star of the women's volleyball team, is played by Michelle Lombardo ("Entourage"). His hard-nosed coach will be played by Steve Zahn ("Reality Bites," "Riding in Cars With Boys"), cast against type. Calvin will fall in love with Tori, square off with baseball adversary Casell and clash with Coach Little, a bitter ex-minor leaguer.

"He has to face disappointment and realize there's something else out there," Matondi says.

Veteran TV and film actor Doug Rowe, of Ashland, plays Skeeter. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Terri McMahon is Tori's mom. The OSF's Catherine Coulson is Caramae. Other local actors include Jimmy Garcia, Renee Hewitt, Jamie Peck, Noah Scott, Larry Ziegelmeyer and Jackson Rowe.

Bruce Hostetler, of Ashland, handled casting. Hundreds of extras, most of them SOU students, were lured by an offer of free food to fill the gym at SOU for a volleyball scene.

In a decade in the film business, the Lundgrens had focused mostly on shorts and music videos. Their feature "Lithium," about a young woman's struggle with manic depression, played on Showtime.

"This is our first feature with name actors," Anne Lundgren says. "It's real exciting."

The company raised the undisclosed budget from private sources, which in return get a percent of the picture. Gary Kout says between $400,000 and $500,000 is being spent around the valley. Economic impact studies have suggested that each dollar spent by a film generates maybe double that in economic activity.

Although the film is not based on a real person, Anne Lundgren says her husband does remember an unskilled player with a lot of passion for the game from his own days on the baseball team of College of San Mateo in California.

"It's very bittersweet," she says.

The scene on the softball diamond is one of the last in the film. Rain showers plague the shoot, forcing unplanned rain breaks. Still, the company has been shooting four or five pages of script a day, a good clip. As rain abates, a large rainbow arcs over the foothills to the north and east, drawing oohs and ahs.

Then first assistant director Keith Jones, who runs the set, barks out directions, and a boom operator positions the microphone near the actors.

"Roll sound."

"Camera is on."

"Picture's up."


Reach reporter Bill Varble at 776-4478 or e-mail

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