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Independent Film Becomes A Time Capsule Of Fire-Ravaged Phoenix, Oregon

Phoenix, OR was devastated by the Almeda fire.
Phoenix, OR was devastated by the Almeda fire.

The independent film "Phoenix Oregon" was set in a fictional version of the southern Oregon town. When the Almeda fire nearly burned the city to the ground, the film became a vehicle for recovery efforts.

The indie film “Phoenix, Oregon” is the story of two friends who quit their service industry jobs to restore an old bowling center and serve the world’s greatest pizza.

It feels like a love letter to the real-life town in southern Oregon, where Luis Rodriguez, one of the film’s producers, lives.

But today, Phoenix is just beginning to recover from the devastating Almeda fire. The wildfire tore through southern Oregon earlier this month, burning over 2,600 homes.

Rodriguez says it’s still shocking to see the fire’s violent effects on his town.

“You cruise down the highway, and both sides are just completely leveled off, flattened,” he said. “It gets very confusing. Also, you look over at certain areas, and you almost forget what was there.”

“Phoenix, Oregon” was actually filmed 50 miles away in Klamath Falls, but Rodriguez says it accurately captures the essence of his small town in a way that’s surreal to watch, now that so much has been destroyed.

He and his collaborators have pivoted to using the film to raise funds for the massive relief effort his community is facing. Digital sales of the film and a Phoenix, Oregon, t-shirt are going to help the community rebuild. The film’s producers have also started a long-term relief effort, in partnership with the United Way of Jackson County.

“I want people to know that this is a very beautiful community,” Rodriguez said. “There are a lot of wonderful, hard-working people that live here. We will bounce back. It’s going to be hard, but I just want people to know there’s a lot of heart here and in the surrounding area.”

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

John Notarianni