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Documentary crew returns to recount 'Animal House' filming

Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13th, 2013

photo by Jon Stinnett James "Izzy" Whetstine, left, and drummer Kenny Reed take a break from filming a documentary on the making of 'Animal House' Friday. Whetstine played a janitor responsible for dealing with a dead horse in the movie.

Many longtime Cottage Grove residents can recall a raucous parade that occurred downtown on Main Street in 1978. Today, scenes from that day live on as the zany finale to the highest-grossing comedy film of all time, Warner Bros.’ Animal House, and last week, a documentary film crew returned to the scene of the action to recount the part Cottage Grove played in film history.

The documentary, “Animal House of Blues,” started as a project for a group of students at the University of Oregon, according to its creator, Katherine Wilson.

“The class covered films of interest from the 1970s,” she said. “But after the class ended, my students told me that they needed to be interns and get some experience, that they wanted to make a movie.”

Wilson said her students wanted to help her complete “Animal House of Blues,” a project she’d sought to finish herself for over a decade.

“I’d been trying for 10 years, and it was going to cost me $100,000,” she said. “But we got to work, and the kids had everything I didn’t. We shot a short film in five weeks, and the students graduated with honors. Then they started telling me that they wanted to make the whole thing (the entire film.)”

Wilson knew she couldn’t afford the licensing from Warner Bros. necessary to include parts of ‘Animal House’ in her own film, but she and her students entered their documentary in the Eugene International Film Festival anyway. There, ‘Animal House of Blues’ received an award for best documentary, and soon after, Wilson was meeting with representatives from Lion’s Gate and ABC Video about preparing the film for worldwide distribution. She said the film is slated for release in May, and last week, she rounded up a cast of characters to film scenes reminiscent of those in the original ‘Animal House’ and the anniversary toga party that happened here in 2003, an event Wilson called “the most incredible thing any town has ever put on.”

For the complete article see the 02-13-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-13-2013 paper.

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