COOS COUNTY – Director Barri Chase has a vision for Coos County.
Not only is she back to film another movie, and possibly a TV show, but is looking to team up with local production businesses, including a new recording studio to do post-production work.
“We want to bring and have a huge group of film makers here so we can help each other,” Chase said. “Movies are a multi-million dollar industry that can enhance this area.”
Chase filmed The Watchman's Canoe in Coos County last year and is touring with the movie now, bringing it to the Egyptian Theater this weekend for a public screening. Her next feature film is Coyote Howls.
The script is cast starring DC's Suicide Squad, Adam Beach, and Roger Willie from Windtalkers. Both had acted in The Watchman's Canoe, but are returning with her new project in bigger roles.
“In order to start filming Coyote Howls, we're looking for sponsors and investors,” Chase said.
Like with The Watchman's Canoe, Chase has pulled from her own life while writing Coyote Howls.
“Everything I do is based on identity and how we handle or not handle it,” she said. “This new film is loosely based on true life stories, about a man who has run from his past ever since he left the reservation.”
As a Native American herself, the majority of her projects have centered around issues she or others have encountered often told within the Native American culture. Coyote Howls follows a professor who spent the majority of his life telling everyone he knew that he was Latino, but is now forced to face the truth about who he is and where he comes from.
“The idea came to me when I was visiting with a friend,” Chase said. “We went out with the cast and crew, and as we were walking across the street something strange happened to him.”
Chase believes she saw, in the reflection of a nearby window, her friend be lifted and thrown down the street. For Native Americans and other first nation cultures, there is an explanation.
“My friend told me, finally after all these years, that he was Native American, not Latino,” she said. “I was shocked because he had never told me or anybody. I spoke with different tribes about what I thought I saw and I got so many stories from people about why something like this may have happened.”
Of course, Chase is waiting to explain it in the new movie, which she described as a mystery thriller.
“It's an intense journey about how to face who you are and to accept it,” she said.
Originally, after finishing the script, Chase scouted for filming locations in the southwest where Roger Willie lives. But wherever she went, it didn't feel right.
“Instead of filming in the middle of a canyon, why not film him in the sand dunes, or here in Coos County with the big dark forests,” she said. “There's so much beauty to film here and I think it's imperative to have creative film makers, musicians, stay here and focus on getting these industries established on the southern Oregon coast.”
Coyote Howls is expected to cost nearly $1 million to film. In order to get the movie up and going, Chase invites people to contact her to find out more about how to become a share holder, the names of which will be included in the credit roll.
“This movie is going to cost us more than The Watchman's Canoe because there will be some CGI,” she said. “Coyote Howls is a great investment because that money will be spent here in the community. It's great because it is an industry that needs to happen here and it needs to happen now. With the actors we have on board, between them, there are over 20 million fans. This movie will do well.”
Chase and others involved in the project are going to start holding equity share meetings next month.
In a separate project, Chase is still developing a Webisode called Marshfield. The series is expected to be a mix of Twin Peaks and the French version of The Returned.
“It's about high school kids and is based around local area stories,” she said. “It will focus a lot on local Native American traditions, following a group of teens who are trying to figure out why so many murders are happening and why they can't go into the fog.”
The series is a horror/thriller, one she hopes to film at the Marshfield High School campus.
“I need to put out good vibes to Superintendent Bryan Trendell,” she laughed. “Ultimately with that project I'm hoping to help get a film club started at the high school where we can train locals on industry skills.”
In her efforts to build Coos County up as an area for film making moguls, she has linked arms with the new recording studio owned by David Ford and Vinnie Cavarra. The Inner Sanctum is almost finished being built over 7 Devils Brewery, set up with top notch studio sound equipment.
“We have been thinking about opening this studio up for five years,” Cavarra said, a hair metal rocker from San Diego who toured the country with his music. He is a member of the local band Toys, which was named number one area band by The World last year. He produced an album in the 1980s with the band Assassin and has worked for decades to help other musicians record their own music so it could be shared.
Cavarra is the co-owner and studio engineer/production for the Inner Sanctum Studio, and though he and Ford want to use their new business to have bands record their music, they also hope to expand their clientele through their relationship with Chase.
“For her, I can see advantages for keeping production in-house,” Cavarra said. “If it isn't kept in the area, there can be a lot of logistical issues that come up. We made sure to get the best equipment you can get and have software like Pro Tools, the defacto audio recording program in all major recording houses, the board, the dock, all the monitor speakers are top notch. There's nothing really like this in a good 400 mile radius.”
Inner Sanctum Studios, which is slated to be finished with construction and open for business in September, hopes to work with Chase during post-production and audio work.
“Barri's connections will be nice for the area and her energy is infectious, which is part of why I want to work for her,” Cavarra said. “She has a desire to do something for the area as a result of her work here.”
Inner Sanctum Studios already have bands and singers lined up to record with them, including names from out of town and into the Los Angeles, California area. Because the studio is above one of the most popular restaurants in Coos Bay, Cavarra and Ford made sure the studio floats off the floor with plastic sound proof products. Inside of the studio, the walls are separated by the same material, making it feel not only professional, but comfortable. The studio is complete with a shower for traveling musicians, waiting room, and balcony.
Inside the studio, they have Iso Room 1, where musicians like a drummer can record without being picked up by other microphones. There is a vocal booth, padded with sound absorption, and a gear room.
The gear room sets the studio apart from others, offering clients the opportunity to pick and choose instruments they might want to add into their songs.
“This is a comfortable area where creative people can relax and create, and if they are old enough they can go downstairs for a beer,” Cavarra said.