Joma Films’s Anne Lundgren and Gary Lundgren on Kickstarter Project BLACK ROAD

Anne Lundgren and Gary Lundgren
Producer, Anne Lundgren, and Director, Gary Lundgren, of Joma Films are running a Kickstarter campaign for their third feature, BLACK ROAD. Film Courage asked them to talk about their filmmaking process and the decision to use Kickstarter.

After getting her BA in philosophy in ’95, Anne Lundgren found herself working in tech at one of the first email companies.  She quickly climbed the ladder and found herself managing software releases with hard deadlines– coordinating between managers, engineers, marketing, and sales.  “It was fun and challenging work,” she said.  “Project management was film producing 101 for me.”
Flash forward fourteen years, Anne’s third film as a producer, the indie noir thriller BLACK ROAD, is once again directed by her husband Gary.  She says, “This one’s darker and more ambitious than our previous two films. It takes more creative risks so is exciting.  And I trust Gary’s instincts in creating meaningful stories and characters regardless of genre.”

The couple’s second film REDWOOD HIGHWAY, starring Shirley Knight and Tom Skerritt, was released by Monterey Media on over sixty screens this month.

Gary Lundgren began writing screenplays and making films when he was fourteen. After a BA in English and one year at Art Center College of Design, Gary found himself working on big features as an assistant editor in Hollywood. “I learned a lot in post from some of the greats, and it only fueled my determination to write and direct my own films,” Gary said. “And I realized from the very beginning that no one was going to just give me an opportunity. I had to create that myself, and so that’s what we did.”

FC:  You work in Oregon full time?

ANNE: Yes, we were in Southern California for so many years but would come to Ashland, Oregon to make films.  It was strange how that worked.  In 2004 we shot a short film called WOW AND FLUTTER about a kid making a mix tape for his first crush.

Ethan Moskowitz and Olivia Avila in Wow & Flutter

ANNE: Then in 2007 we made our first feature CALVIN MARSHALL with Alex Frost and Steve Zahn.    Gary played junior college baseball and always wanted to make a film that was a love letter to all those players who weren’t good enough to continue playing.

Calvin Marshall Official Trailer HD from Gary Lundgren on Vimeo.

BTS “Getting the Baseball Right”

BTS Interview with Steve Zahn & Michelle Lombardo:

Steve Zahn and Alex Frost in Calvin Marshall

FC: How long ago did you move?

GARY: Four years ago. When our daughter was in preschool, we decided to leave LA and try to make it work from here.  Ashland’s nice because there are direct flights to LA from Medford.  We’re also an easy drive to San Francisco and to Portland.

FC:  And Redwood Highway was shot in Ashland, too?

ANNE: Yes, Ashland. Grants Pass. Cave Junction. Up and down Highway 199, into the Redwoods and all the way to Brookings and Gold Beach. Four counties and over 40 locations in 19 days. I’d grown up traveling the Redwood Highway to camp on the coast, so it was fun to experience it from a new perspective as a filmmaker.

Gary Lundgren, Tom Skerritt, and Shirley Knight in Redwood Highway
 FC:  Do you miss LA?

ANNE: Yes, we miss our friends and the ocean, but we don’t miss the pace of life there. All the driving, the cost of living.  There’s a calm, gentle pace to life in Ashland that fits us better. Of course there’s the occasional worry that we’re missing out on opportunities in LA, but luckily the opportunities here in Oregon have kept us busy.  Moviemaker Magazine recently ranked Ashland the number #2 place to live and work as a filmmaker.  Or moviemaker I should say.

We try to work with as many local crew as possible and have been working with the same team for over ten years. We are fortunate to have talented actors from many local theaters and the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  We usually try to add a few bigger names to our cast list, and those often come from out of town.

FC:  So why BLACK ROAD now?  What is it about?

GARY: We’ve been noir fans for so long — it was just a matter of time. After two dramas, we were ready to try to make something new and different. It’s also a great vehicle to explore certain themes.  After World War II, desperation and disillusionment crept into hollywood’s crime stories.  Noir was almost an accident. It was a reaction to what was going on.  Very reflective of how writers and artists were feeling.

I think there’s a similar sort of insecurity now.  The job market is flailing, there’s tremendos economic inequality.  Is the government and the NSA infringing on our freedoms? And we’re so attached at the hip to technology. There are a lot of themes and ideas that I’m betting will resonate with people.

ANNE: Set 30 years in the future and with the lead character communicating with a computer-in-his-head much of the movie, Gary’s script is a strange, scary story that still manages to be human and moving.  It’s not only going to be a fun film to make but also fun to watch.

FC:  How do you choose your cast?

GARY: Casting a movie is such a strange process, which is why you need a good casting director to collaborate with. They help you navigate the agencies and reps and all the potential rejection. It comes down to money, timing and how much an actor likes the script and character. Sometimes you get who you want out of the gate, and other times you hopefully end up with someone better than you imagined.  With BLACK ROAD, Sam Daly was on board early. I like watching him on screen, and it was great working with him in Redwood Highway. So we’ve been rewriting the script with him in mind over the last year.  The right cast just gives a filmmaker confidence. Knowing Sam is in literally every single scene of this film is exciting, because I know he can carry it.

Sam Daly talks character & casting for Black Road:

Black Road Casting from Gary Lundgren on Vimeo.

Michelle Lombardo in Redwood Highway

FC:  Music seems to play an important part in your films.  The mix tape in Wow and Flutter.  The soundtrack of Calvin Marshall.  Can you talk about that?

GARY: Sound design and music is half of the movie experience. The performances and visuals are the first priority but how the sound/music complements them is really important to me. I love playing music while writing, so I fill up a project folder in iTunes with hundreds of songs and then gradually whittle it down. I also work closely with my friends David Raines (sound) and John Askew (composer) early on in the process. So we have a really good idea of how sound/music will help carry the filmmaking before we shoot.

FC:  Why Kickstarter and crowdfunding?

ANNE: I don’t think anyone really knows how hard it is to make an indie profitable.  It’s rough out there.  Producers can easily spend too much money on a film and only get a fraction of it back.

I know I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but filmmakers really do need to be entrepreneurs these days.  We need to run our production companies like those wonderful, hip indie record labels that sprung up in the eighties and nineties or follow the example of the lean & mean tech startups of today.

With Kickstarter, we can pre-sell our film to friends, family and fans.  This gives us a critical piece of the budget up front and is a way to mitigate risk and build an audience.  
FC:  Will you release theatrically like you did for CALVIN MARSHALL and REDWOOD HIGHWAY?

GARY: That’s a decision we’ll make down the road. After two limited theatrical releases, we’ve learned that theatrical is not the holy grail and not necessarily for every film. Ideally, we will do a small theatrical release next spring before or during VOD.  But, we’ll see.

FC: What about Oregon film incentives on this one?  Will they come into play?

ANNE: Oregon Film Incentives have been utilized on both Calvin and Redwood. We apply for the incentive before pre-production and then submit the paperwork once all of our Oregon based work is complete – usually after post-production. The funds are then used for final deliverables or for marketing and distribution expenses.

Even with a small budget as on BLACK ROAD, we plan to use the Oregon incentive and expect to receive back around 10-15% of our budget.

FC:  Anything else you want to say to the Film Courage viewers?

ANNE and GARY:  Check out our Kickstarter video and perks.  If you like what you see, please partner with us now. BLACK ROAD

About the filmmakers:

Husband and Wife team Anne and Gary Lundgren have worked together in the film industry for almost 20 years before moving to Ashland in 2010 to start their own production company, Joma Films. Working with a skilled team of Oregonians, they have made two features in Southern Oregon, “Calvin Marshall” and “Redwood Highway.”

“Calvin Marshall” is available world-wide on outlets including Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and Video on Demand. “Redwood Highway” was released in theaters in May 2014.

Gary has taught directing and screenwriting at SOU, and Anne started her career developing Project Management systems in the emerging telecommunications industry.