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Forest service staff honored for work on Wild film

Gov. Kitzhaber presents award to Mt. Hood National Forest

Gov. John Kitzhaber honored Mt. Hood National Forest this month for its work on the filming of the recent film “Wild.”

On Tuesday, Jan. 6, Kitzhaber presented the Oregon Film and Television Office’s Annual Governor’s Award to the Mt. Hood National Forest as a “Film Advocate,” for its involvement and support in filming “Wild.” Photo Credit: PMG FILE PHOTO - Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed in the film 'Wild,' which was released Dec. 5 and has already been nominated for two Oscars.

The movie starring Reese Witherspoon was released to theaters on Dec. 5, and has already been nominated for two Oscars.

Forest staff being honored included Kathleen Walker, westside recreation program manager; Leanne Veldhuis, special uses program manager; Mary Ellen Fitzgerald, special uses specialist, and Bill Westbrook, Zigzag District ranger.

Gordon Sondland, Oregon Film office chairman and Cheryl Strayed, the author of the book on which the film is based, were among attendees at the event held at the Eastside Exchange Ballroom in Portland.

Westbrook said he appreciated the recognition.

“It always feels good to be recognized for hard work,” he said. “Putting together filming permits like the one we established for ‘Wild’ took great efforts from many talented staff members. It’s wonderful to celebrate their efforts in this way.”Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Bill Westbrook said Mt. Hood National Forest staff put a lot of work into permits for the filming of Wild.

The Oregon Film and Television Office predicts more money will be spent in Oregon on various media projects this year than ever before. According to the office, since 2012, the number of projects and companies benefiting from the state’s film advocacy groups and state agencies has more than doubled. The number of jobs in the motion picture and video production sector has increased more than 60 percent in the last five years, and the number of indigenous production companies has seen growth of more than 25 percent over the same period.

The filming of “Wild” was conducted at several locations along the Pacific Crest Trail including within the Mt. Hood National Forest.

A 75-person crew filmed for three weeks in October and November of 2013 shooting scenes around Mount Hood.

Filming centered on the Zigzag Ranger District included sites such as the Clackamas Lake Ranger Station complex, Timberline Lodge and Mt. Hood Skibowl.Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Staff from the Mt. Hood National Forest were recognized for their efforts in the filming of Wild.

“I think part of the reason why the Mt. Hood National Forest was featured in the film is because of its dynamic history and geographical features,” Veldhuis said. “We have structures that have maintained their historic integrity, lakes that make breathtaking backdrops, Timberline Lodge, and so much more. The film crews were able to knock out a lot of their desired scenes all at once.”

Local ‘Wild’ scenes

Eagle Creek was among many locations in the Pacific Northwest that served as sets for the movie “Wild.”

“Wild” filmed in Eagle Fern Park on Nov. 4, 2013.

“We shot a wonderful scene featuring a llama at Eagle Fern Park,” said “Wild” Publicist Toni Atterbury.

“Least well-behaved member of the ‘Wild’ cast so far? The llama,” wrote Cheryl Strayed, author of the memoir the film is based on, on social media. “He moaned, he grumbled, he ate the greenery. This, in spite of the fact that he had his own trailer!”

Star Reese Witherspoon posted a photo of the llama on her Twitter page with the caption ‘My costar today #dramaticllama #gettingWILD.’

Kylie Wray and Isabel Gautschi contributed to this story.

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