Faires looks over the high desert of eastern Oregon for Meek's Cutoff.
“Landscape has a language,” says veteran ﬁlm location manager and Portland resident Roger Faires (Wendy and Lucy, Dancer in the Dark). Most recently, he scouted locations for the movie Meek’s Cutoff, in theaters now, which follows a wagon train lost in the high desert of eastern Oregon. meekscutoff.com.
Q Where were you?
A Mostly in Harney County. It’s the opposite of western Oregon: all rock and scrub and sand and sagebrush.
Q Were you on the historic cutoff of the Oregon Trail?
A Most of what you see in the ﬁlm is within one or two miles of where those pioneers were traveling, and that did not ever leave us. We all knew we were on sacred ground. This was where people were dying and the drama of their lives was unfolding.
Q How do you ﬁnd locations?
A Other people open up a computer and know how to navigate it. I know how to read land and know what is or is not on the other side of a hill I have never seen before. You ask locals and do a lot of driving, but instinct leads me around the corner and around the corner.
Q What’s not to miss in eastern Oregon?
A Steens Mountain is near Burns, where we were based, and there are bed-and-breakfasts all around that area, these Oregon gems. The Owyhee Canyon is one of the most dramatic in the nation. And the Double O Ranch Road, a locally famous gravel track that meanders into remote areas, is a road you have to see.
Photography by Simon Max Hill
This article was first published in May 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.