A still from the film "Lorelei," shot in part in Salem and due to be released locally on July 31 at Salem Cinema.

Sabrina Doyle was at a gas station just outside of Salem one afternoon at the end of 2018 when she saw a man. His face got her attention. 

“You could see just the history of his life on his face,” she recalled. “I said, ‘We’re shooting a movie across the street, do you want to be an extra?'’’

Writer and director Doyle launched into her elevator pitch for her film “Lorelei.” Fresh from a 15-year stint in prison, a man reconnects with his high school girlfriend who has been somewhat of a prisoner herself after her dreams of becoming a professional swimmer were cut short by teen pregnancy. 

That description was enough to convince the man to help her out.

“He said, ‘I relate to that, personally, I’ll be an extra.’ And he makes the scene, I think,” Doyle said. “It’s just one of those things we wouldn’t get shooting in LA.”

“Lorelei,” scheduled to premiere on July 30, was shot in several counties around Oregon including Marion. The state, Doyle said, lent itself to the dream-like quality she wrote into the screenplay.

“It’s a blue collar fable,” she said. “There’s something about Oregon that ends itself to that. The film is very gritty but also has a dream quality about it. We ended up showing that through the use of water, which becomes a metaphor in the film, and Oregon is just abundant with waterfalls and waterways and it’s green and lush.”

The choice to film in the Pacific Northwest was deliberate, Los Angeles resident Doyle said, and it was cemented after scouting for a few weeks while based in Salem. But the camaraderie the crew found in Oregon was a surprise.

When shooting a motorcycle scene, the crew befriended a motorcycle group that jumped at the chance to help.

“We would not have been able to shoot that scene,” Doyle said. “We were able to shoot it because we made friends with the bikers who were happy to have their bikes in the film and showed up to film. That’s just one example of the incredible support in Oregon that allowed us to make this film.” 

Lorelei stars Tony and Emmy nominee Pablo Schreiber (Halo, Den of Thieves, Orange is the New Black, The Wire) and Golden Globe nominee Jena Malone (The Neon Demon, Lovesong, The Hunger Games, Inherent Vice). It was shot across Marion, Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. 

“It’s a film about people who have lost 15 years,” Doyle said. “They’re assessing where they’re at in their lives, where they failed, where they succeed, the life they could have had, the life they do have. So the dream element was very big and I have to say, Oregon makes me dreamy.”

“Lorelei” will open on July 30 and have a special Q&A screening at Salem Cinema on July 31 at 7 p.m. followed by a Q&A with Doyle.

Contact reporter Caitlyn May at [email protected].

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