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Budweiser films a commercial in Jacksonville
• Mail Tribune
You see them every year, beginning around Thanksgiving and continuing into January. Those scenes featuring feel-good Clydesdales, families around the dining table, and sleighs meandering through the idyllic hinterland. A half-minute later, you’re convinced Anheuser-Busch is right up there with Mom, apple pie and puppies.
This year, some of the faces and locations may seem more familiar.
A small army of directors, writers, makeup artists, videographers and support staff converged on Southern Oregon last weekend to shoot a Budweiser commercial for release just before the holidays.
The central figure is Tyler Maddox, a 37-year-old, 1995 South Medford High School graduate whose real-life story played well with the casting agency and producers of the forthcoming Budweiser spot. He’s joined the “old gang” that has spread out beyond the Rogue Valley — Greg Guevara, who now lives in Boulder, Colo.; Brandon Knapp, who calls Nelson, British Columbia, home; and Nate Broom, hailing from Corydon, Ind. The only other member still living here is Jimmy Castellano.
“They wanted to show the importance of getting together with friends,” Maddox said. “That’s why they wanted to cast a reunion with real people and not actors.”
Maddox, a videographer himself, was on a shoot for Hewlett-Packard in Wyoming when he got a call from Gary Kout, who told him about a talent search for a Budweiser commercial.
“They were reaching out to film associations all across the country,” said Kout, executive director of Southern Oregon Film & Media. “They were looking for someone between 25 and 45, an outdoors person with a core group of friends that had been separated by life or family.”
Kout knew Maddox was an avid backpacker, skier, motorbiker and cyclist, and suggested he contact Dan Bell Casting and check it out.
“What I didn’t know was that he had a group of friends that grew up together here and talked every year about getting together,” Kout said. “But every year goes by and they didn’t get a chance.”
After a series of Skype interviews, and assurance everyone could show up for a reunion shoot, the call came on Oct. 17. The friends were all in town by Friday evening, but sequestered in motel rooms.
“They didn’t want us to see each other until they were ready to shoot Sunday night,” Maddox said.
Early morning mountain biking scenes were staged on wicked switchbacks on the Jacksonville Woodlands trails with the help of headlamps. Street scenes were shot before many folks stirred. Because the cast was generally kept apart, Dustin Knapp, Kevin Jantzer and Shawn Petock doubled for the out-of-town cast members and were shot from behind.
The production crew interviewed Maddox, providing insight and an audio backdrop. The big moment came Sunday evening, the beginning of an all-night marathon. The house was stocked with a couple of cases of Bud. But after one drink, production assistants gathered up the mostly filled cans and took them away, providing fresh cans for the next take.
“We would do that over and over,” he said. “The funny thing is that none of us are really big drinkers — we barely drink. The game is about image more than authenticity. Because of what I do, I’m used to this kind of thing and wasn’t uncomfortable. The reality of this giant production was that I had a reunion with five buddies. We could’ve been drinking lemonade and they would’ve got the same reaction.”
The cost of the weekend shoot by Swedish-based production company B-Reel was roughly $250,000 to $300,000. Adding post-production costs, Kout estimates the spot cost well over a half-million dollars.
“With everything well over a million,” he said.
Those working in front of the camera generally earn $300 to $500 for a 10-hour day plus expenses, Kout said. “They’re licensing their image and voice to be put on television.”
The production crew gets paid for its working hours.
The local economy gets a nice bump in the process, he said. Production crew members spent three to five nights at Homewood Suites in Medford. Car rental, meals, per diem for expenses, supplies and equipment rental bring money into local coffers, too.
Budweiser, Kout said, will get brand enhancement.
“They’re typically creating aspirational situations for people to see on screen,” he said. “They are doing awesome things, in awesome places and using their product. Whether it’s drinking beer, using shampoo, driving cars, or putting money in their bank, the clients want to create desire for the person watching, they want viewers to want to be like them.”
Since the financial crash of 2007 Southern Oregon has suffered high unemployment and little growth -but that all seems to be changing. We have been watching quietly as new homes are being built in every corner of the valley, businesses continue to move, in and acres of grapes are being planted.
From Ashland to Eagle Point, Medford to Jacksonville there is movement and activity everywhere. When you’re driving around, try to count the number of new homes being built, new businesses moving in and acres of vineyards being planted. Here is my count:
Home Building and Commercial Development
There are currently 109 new homes for sale and 68 new homes pending in the valley. They range from $179,000 in Medford, Rogue River and White City, to $895,000 on Ashland Creek road in Ashland. Even our small town of Jacksonville currently has 16 homes under construction.
That’s just the beginning of what is to come as there are some large developments already approved and construction that has just started. Stewart Meadows Village, which is between Hwy 99 and Myers Lane and between Garfield and Stewart, has just broken ground on 79 acres and will have 190 homes as well as residential and retail. Sky Park received final approval by Medford and will consist of 26 residential units above the city owned parking lot at 206 Central. The Cedar Links development on the former Cedar Links Golf Couse has already seen a 5.5 acre park being built by the City of Medford and the rest is set to be developed for residential and some retail. Outside of Jacksonville the old dump is currently being developed into 2.5 and 5 acre residential lots.
On the commercial side we have 18 acres called the Southeast Village Center on North Phoenix and Barnett Road which is in final stages of approval with the Medford planning commission. Also, in final approval with the bureau of Indian affairs, is a 2.42 acre Coquille Indian tribe $26 million casino. This will be located on Hwy 99 at the site of Roxy Ann Lanes and Kim’s restaurant.
In downtown Medford on the heels of the new multi-story, One West, County Health and Lithia building we’re about to see a 47,000 square foot multi-story police station go up behind the new County Health building. Speaking of Lithia, they have built four new dealerships on Hwy 62 past Costco for Nissan, Honda, VW and BMW. And speaking of Costco, they are in talks with the city of Medford to build a new larger and more convenient location in the area next to Traders Joe’s and REI. Lastly, its’ true, “In and Out Burger” is coming to the Rogue Valley Mall.
If all of this is not enough, Medford, faced with the prospect of running out of buildable land in the near future, is seeking approval from the state to add another 1,650 acres to its urban growth boundary to help accommodate 15,000 new homes and enough land for commercial development. City officials are trying to figure out how much land it needs to handle anticipated growth over the next 20 years as the population increases from 76,000 to a projected 115,000, more than a 50 percent increase.
Vineyards and Wineries
We’re all enjoying a wave of new wineries such as DANCIN, Kriselle Cellars, 2 Hawk, Red Lily and Bella Fiore, but the industry seems to just be getting started. Pallet Wine, who makes the wine for over 20 clients including Harry & David, Irvin Vineyards, and Grizzly Peak, is expanding by 10,000 square feet so that they can handle their growth and vineyards are popping up all over Southern Oregon. You don’t have to drive far to see the hundreds and hundreds of acres of new grapes being planted on Carpenter Hill, North Applegate and the 19,000 vines that DANCIN is going to plant in the groomed field off of South Stage.
There are currently 47 wineries listed on the Southern Oregon Winery Association’s website and other vineyards that will soon open wineries outside Jacksonville, Ashland and the Applegate Valley. Wine tours are being given by “All aboard Trolley”, “Bravo Outings”, and the “Wine Hopper” who have grown from Mercedes Sprinter Vans to large bus-sized trucks.
So next time you’re driving around, start counting all of the new homes being built, and if you’re lucky to be driving through the countryside, take notice of those growing acres and acres of vineyards.