Locals participate in making film

By Marge Woodfin, Pilot staff writer January 08, 2011 04:00 am

The “Big Man” (Isaac C. Singleton Jr.) relaxes in the wilderness. Submitted photo.
It might be called a love affair within a love affair – a couple’s love for each other and a mutual love of filmmaking, which, with a little help, may take them to the Sundance Film Festival later this month.

Tony and Terri-Lynn Kalhagen of Makai Ohana Productions in Nesika Beach fell in love 24 years ago when, as teenagers, they met at a club in Hawaii.

Terri-Lynn said in a July 2007 article in the Curry Coastal Pilot, “…and we’re as much in love now as we were 20 years ago.” This week she told the Pilot it’s still true today.

Their love affair with movie-making began shortly after their move to Oregon 10 years ago, when they stumbled into doing commercials for Channel 9, and moved on to form Makai Ohana Productions to produce their own films about travels in Africa and tourism in Oregon.

That continuing love affair and association with movies has resulted in an invitation from Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah for a film they worked on last year in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness east of Brookings to be shown at the festival.

The movie, “Letters From the Big Man,” written and directed by Los Angeles moviemaker Christopher Munch, is scheduled to be screened at Sundance the end of this month.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to attend the event,” Terri-Lynn said.

“We attended the Governor’s Annual Film Conference meeting for Oregon, and everyone we came in contact with congratulated us and encouraged us to do whatever it takes to make it to Sundance.”

In a telephone interview Jan. 4, Terri-Lynn said, “This is a great opportunity for Oregon and film making. We viewed the film for the first time recently and were so impressed and proud to have worked on the project … to see my name on the screen as unit production manager was quite a thrill.”

Tony worked as her assistant, providing props and keeping actors from New York and California believable in their wilderness roles. He also did all the catering for the production crew in that location.

“It was a hard run,” Terri-Lynn said, “hauling up the heavy cooking equipment and providing three hot meals a day for hungry actors and technicians.”

The still-struggling, hard-working couple have turned to the community for assistance in making their Sundance dream come true.

“In our attempt to make this trip happen,” Tony said, “we are asking for any help or sponsorship that anyone may be able to provide … frequent flyer miles, cash, a place to stay in Park City, Utah...”

Terri-Lynn added, “We realize this request for help comes at a very bad time, and we don’t expect anything, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.”

Anyone who’d like to assist the Kalhagens, and perhaps give them a shove toward their own movie-making success, may contact them at 541-247-0625, or by visiting www.makaiohana. com.

Story synopsis

“Letters from the Big Man” was filmed on location in Southern Oregon, including the Kalmiopsis Wilderness east of Brookings.

The fiction story delves into the legends of sasquatch and also eludes to the 2002 Biscuit Fire that burned more than half a million acres in Curry County.

In the film, Sarah Smith (Lily Rabe), following a painful breakup, embarks on a post-fire stream survey for the Forest Service in Southern Oregon.

A journey down a wild and scenic river leads her to a remote wilderness surrounded by scorched landscapes. Here she first senses being followed by a presence that will not reveal itself.

Visitations from the “Big Man” (Isaac C. Singleton Jr.) continue, more overtly, at the remote cabin where Sarah writes up her fieldwork.

A budding romance with a wilderness advocate (Jason Butler Harner) she meets on her trip leads to surprising revelations about the government and sasquatch, and to conflicting agendas that culminate in Sarah leaving civilization behind completely in order to be close to, and observe, “the sasquatch people.”