‘Wild’ filming at Crater Lake

Source: Lee Juillerat, H&N Regional Editor

CRATER LAKE — “Rolling. This is it. Picture up!” yelped director Jean-Marc Valée.

“Rolling! Picture up!” came a chorus of shouts.

“Action!” Vallée barked.

Again, like echoes, a loud volley of, “Action!”

Reese Witherspoon, looking small and frail in blue shorts, a soft, red T-shirt and pair of boots, walked past a small tree that hadn’t been there 10 minutes earlier, and stopped inches from one of the cameras recording her movements, staring straight ahead.

“Cut!” Vallée shouted.

The process repeated itself, once, twice and three more times, just off Crater Lake National Park’s Rim Drive near the North Entrance Junction.

“Hold your chin a tiny bit lower,” he instructed Witherspoon. Again and again the sequence was repeated.

“Beautiful,” Vallée finally declared. “Cut.”

Movie making is tedious. Scenes that flash across the screen in seconds can take an hour to film. Since the filming schedule for “Wild,” a movie starring Witherspoon based on Cheryl Strayed’s best-seller of the same name, fell behind schedule because of the partial federal government shutdown, its 45-person crew worked with urgency Wednesday to finish scenes at the park.

Although Crater Lake was only a brief stop in Strayed’s incisive book about dealing with loss, her time along the lake’s rim marks a critical turning point in her personal journey.

Film crews from Fox Searchlight Pictures arrived in Oregon earlier this month, spending about two weeks in the Bend area, Tuesday in Ashland and Wednesday at Crater Lake.

Although snow is possible anytime, warm fall temperatures and sunny skies made views of the lake and its surroundings glorious.

Witherspoon, who won an Academy Award as best actress for “Walk the Line,” stars. Vallée, whose credits include “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Cafe De Flore,” directs the script written by Oscar nominated writer Nick Hornby.

Watching Wednesday’s filming were Crater Lake rangers, including Supt. Craig Ackerman. He praised the film’s producers, although he rejected proposals to film a scene on Llao Rock because of concerns about endangered plants and negotiated an agreement to limit the size of film crews for sequences along the fragile Pumice Desert.

Before relocating to other park filming locations, Witherspoon completed the scene along Rim Drive, just up the road from the North Junction, where crews set up a temporary city of trailers, dining tents and rental vans.

Continuing the earlier scene, Witherspoon hefted the green backpack, which Strayed dubbed “Monster” because of its weight, and repeated the scene, this time walking past the temporary tree, then pausing to absorb the view north across the Pumice Desert, a panorama that includes Mount Bailey and the needle-like Mount Thielsen. Wordlessly, she sat under a real tree, unbuckled the straps on the backpack.

During a series of takes, Witherspoon repeated the sequence, one that included pulling out clothes from the pack, stepping into a pair of khaki pants, donning a black sweater and layering herself with an olive green jacket. She buckled up, stood, used a hiking pole and stepped down the slope, careful to follow Vallée’s earlier directions to “go here so you don’t go into the shade.”

Shot as one long scene, Witherspoon walked away, seemingly disappearing into the expanse.

“Cut!” commanded Vallée.

Within minutes, he, Witherspoon and the phalanx of crew were back in their rigs, heading to the next filming location.

lee@heraldandnews.com

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