AZALEA — Geese honked overhead as a man called for quiet while actress Dakota Fanning sat at a picnic table at Chief Miwaleta Park, conspiring in the dark to blow up Galesville Dam.
A crew has taken over the Douglas County park this week to film an eco-terrorism thriller, “Night Moves.”
Filming began Monday and is scheduled to continue today and possibly for a few more days. Other scenes will be shot in the Medford area.
Fanning and co-stars Jesse Eisenberg and Peter Sarsgaard play the eco-terrorists determined to blow up a dam. The county will receive $2,000 a day.
Fanning portrays a wealthy young woman who finances the operation and develops a romantic interest in Eisenberg’s character. Sarsgaard, who appeared in last year’s “Green Lantern,” plays the bomb maker.
Tall trees with a thick canopy and the fading light lent an eerie feeling Tuesday evening as the Hollywood stars appeared to plot the destruction of Galesville Dam in the distance.
The company filming the movie, Tipping Point Productions of Portland, has operated in stealth mode, providing no details about its filming schedule and discouraging visitors from watching.
The company, however, declined to pay the county an extra fee to close the park to the public. Parks Director Gary Groth said today movie producers said it wasn’t necessary. The county would have issued a notice if it were putting the park off-limits to the public, he said. “The park is not closed.”
Groth apologized for volunteer park caretaker Ron Marriott threatening to call the sheriff’s office if a News-Review reporter didn’t leave the park. Marriott was with film producer Neil Kopp, who said his company’s permit gave it authority to close the park. Groth said that’s not the case.
Last week, during a scouting trip, Kopp said the film was a low-budget production and that his company did not have the money to pay to have the park closed to visitors.
Following a dinner break, filming resumed with Fanning and her co-stars jumping aboard a boat named “Night Moves” to reach the dam.
Five members of the South County Rescue squad, comprised of members of the Canyonville, Riddle, Myrtle Creek and Tri City fire departments, watched the action. They were hired to assist if there were any mishaps on the water.
“We’re all suited up. We’re ready for action,” Tri City Rural Fire Department Capt. Devin Loughridge said.
If they were not there and a rescue were required, it would take team members more than a half-hour to reach the scene, Loughridge and the other members said.
During the scouting trip, Kopp said his company preferred to go to location and do its work without public attention.
The movie is already the target of a federal lawsuit filed last month in Los Angeles by a competing film company. The Edward R. Pressman Co., which holds film rights to the 1975 novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang” by Edward Abbey, claims “Night Moves” stole the plot and characters from Abbey’s book.
The novel is credited with inspiring Earth First! Abbey’s widow, Clarke Abbey, assigned the book’s film rights to Pressman.
The lawsuit asks that “Night Moves” director Kelly Reichardt and her partners be prohibited from producing, promoting and selling the film.
Three of Reichardt’s previous movies, “Meek’s Cutoff,” “Old Joy” and “Then a Year” were also filmed in Oregon. This is the first time she has shot scenes in Southern Oregon.
The movie, if it is allowed to be released, is expected to hit theaters next year.
• You can reach reporter John Sowell at 541-957-4209 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.