The beauty of the Rogue River offered a wonderful contrast to a psychological thriller set to begin filming Saturday in Josephine County, producers say.

The beauty of the Rogue River offered a wonderful contrast to a psychological thriller set to begin filming Saturday in Josephine County, producers say.

An advance team has been in the area for the independent feature "Rogue River," which is scheduled to be shot on private property in the Merlin and Grants Pass areas through Dec. 22.

The film is the latest in recent productions in the region.

"Rogue River" producers are bringing in about 40 people as well as using some local crew members for the story of a woman whose plan to scatter her father's ashes leads to her captivity.

Mara is played by Michelle Page, who was in the recent horror film "Dog" and who has appeared on the television shows "Saving Grace" and "Ghost Whisperer."

She encounters Jon, a man who appears to be friendly. He is played by well-known horror actor Bill Moseley, whose credits include "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, " "Night of the Living Dead," "Army of Darkness" and Rob Zombie's "Halloween."

The cast also includes Lucinda Jenney, whose credits include "The Shield," "Wired" and "24"; Michael Cudlitz, currently on the TV series "Southland," and whose credits include "Band of Brothers"; and Art Alexakis, of the band Everclear. The film is being directed by Jourdan McClure.

Most of the three-week production will be in locations too remote to be open to the public, said Jo Haskin, of Rogue River Productions and Kejo Productions, who is producing the film with her husband, Kevin.

Kevin Haskin, who wrote the script with Ryan Finnerty, said the film seeks to explore how people who seem ordinary can be disturbed and the area offered the appeal of contrasting with the story's darkness.

"I think it juxtaposes nicely with the content," he said.

The Haskins are working with Vision Entertainment, which belongs to Zachery Bryan, perhaps best known for playing Brad Taylor on the show "Home Improvement," and Adam Targum, a producer and writer on "Eleventh Hour."

"Kevin's characters have so much dimension and nuance to them," said Targum, whose writing credits include "The Dead Zone" and "Blade: The Series."

The story is different from the typical horror movie, said Bryan, whose company just finished filming the horror film "The Strays" in Bulgaria. "This was just a lot more intense, a lot more thought-provoking."

In addition to lodging, the film will also bring some income to the area through rented equipment and local people on the crew in areas such as sound, gripping and production assistance.

"Rogue River" is the latest in a number of productions to come to the region.

It's been a busy season, said Gary Kout, executive director of the regional industry group Southern Oregon Film and Television.

Regional work this year has included commercials, an untitled feature film about Jesse James, some crew from the area recently working on the film "Heathens and Thieves" in Etna, Calif., and the Medford film "The Bag," which features Hollywood veterans Richard Erdman, Peggy Stewart and Marlyn Mason, who is living in Medford.

"While none of these projects are as big as what we've hosted in the past, they indicate a trend towards more production, and even numerous small productions add up and make an economic impact locally with crew and cast salaries, vendor invoices, production supplies, hotel stays, car rentals, catering and restaurants, shopping, entertainment and more," Kout said.

Locals were also involved in the independent feature "Letters from the Big Man," which was filmed in the Illinois Valley and on the coast. The a low-budget independent film written and directed by Christopher Munch. Editing on that film has just begun, he said.

"The earliest it would likely be seen would be next autumn," Kout said.

Like Munch, the producers of "Rogue River" contacted the film group looking for crew members, and that led to more people being hired, Kout said.

"Its very gratifying to see the resources we have here get the attention and respect they deserve," Kout said.

Patricia Snyder is a reporter for the Grants Pass Daily Courier. She can be reached at 474-3817 or psnyder@thedailycourier.com.