New Eastern Oregon Filmmaker Residency Program Launches

LA GRANDE, OR – Eastern Oregon Film Festival, an La Grande based nonprofit, is excited to announce the inaugural year of its Filmmaker Residency program. The residency is a month-long retreat for writers and directors to receive designated time and space to work on feature-length screenplays.

The application for attendance opens on on January 17 and closes on February 21, with an early bird deadline of February 7.

The goal of this 4-week program is for artists to walk away with a draft that has the potential to be produced in Oregon in the coming years, and for attendees to learn about resources and opportunities available to them for filmmaking in this region. Most importantly, this is a dedicated and focused time for talented writers to produce work in whatever form they see fit. Unlike most artist residencies, this is specifically geared toward filmmakers.

For more information go here.


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Video Game Writing Workshop Hosted Online By Soma Games & Willamette Writers









Ever wondered what it would be like to write for a video games company? Did you even know that you could turn your stories into video game worlds?

Willamette Writers has partnered with Newberg, OR-based Soma Games to host an online no-cost workshop diving into the technical, craft, and business elements of writing for video games…and we want you to be there! Whether you’re considering a writing career in the games industry, or if you’re just intrigued about how stories shape the development of games, this 90-minute workshop will bring you into the minds of Oregon’s leading industry professionals who want to share their stories with you.

Your #OregonParkBenchStory post = one ticket to the workshop.

To join us, all you’ll need to do is participate by January 29 in our #OregonParkBenchStory campaign via Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

  • Download the park bench image provided on this page, or use your own image of a park bench.
  • Post it to your social media, and give us one sentence or phrase in the caption reflecting on your story of 2020 (if you need inspiration see OregonMade).
  • Don’t forget to include #OregonParkBenchStory.
The workshop will take place at 1 pm PST, Sunday, January 31, 2021. Ages 18+ only, please. You will receive your registration link via direct message.

For information on the #OregonParkBenchStory collaboration, please visit OregonMade.

Painted Hills, Oregon. (Photo: Travel Oregon).

Painted Hills, Oregon. (Photo: Travel Oregon).

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Kenji Sugahara Appointed By US Dept. Of Transportation To Serve On FAA Drone Advisory Committee

This week, Oregonian, Kenji Sugahara, President and Chief Executive Officer, Drone Service Providers Alliance and founder of Ariascend,  was appointed by the US Department of Transportation to serve on the FAA Drone Advisory Committee.

Kenji is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Oregon School of Law. As an attorney, he played a critical role in the FAA’s 2017 Remote ID and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee. As a full member he helped author the Technology Workgroup’s report and helped write the final report. In early 2017, he wrote a white-paper on Remote Identification and Tracking of UAS that will likely serve as a foundational element of the broadcast technology for FAA rulemaking on Remote ID and Tracking. Kenji was recently accepted as a Producer for ASTM F38.02. He currently works advising numerous state agencies and local municipalities on drone issues. He also sits on the UAS stakeholder group that advises the Oregon Legislature on UAS issues. A prolific writer, he has written a number of articles for trade groups that utilize UAS.

His passion for unmanned aerial systems began over 6 years ago. As a drone operator he has gained a reputation for excellence that include a number of firsts. His operations included the first operation ever inside a state capitol building, and the first commercially permitted UAS operations at Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows on Mt. Hood.

This week the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today announced new appointments to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Drone Advisory Committee or DAC.  “The Drone Advisory Committee is key to helping the FAA keep pace with innovation while protecting safety,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Members are executives who represent a variety of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) interests, including industry, research, academia, retail, technology, and state and local government.

The DAC is a broad-based, long-term federal advisory committee that provides the FAA advice on key UAS integration issues by helping to identify challenges and prioritize improvements. The committee helps to create a broad strategy for the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.

“As the UAS industry continues to evolve, it is important to have DAC members who mirror the many facets of this fast-growing industry. We know the members will help the FAA ensure the highest level of safety while keeping pace with the new and innovative technology for UAS,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

The DAC is chartered to have up to 35 members and today’s announcement will fill 12 vacancies. The new members listed below will serve a two-year term and join DAC Chairman Michael Chasen, Chairman of the Advisory Board for PrecisionHawk USA, Inc.

Kenji Sugahara, President, and CEO of the DSPA was officially chosen to represent the DSPA and the small and medium-sized business drone service providers. “We are ecsta[c that the FAA and DOT realize the importance of small and medium-sized drone service providers in the UAS industry,” said Kenji Sugahara, CEO/President of the DSPA. “We are honored to be chosen to represent this important cons[tuency. Small and medium-sized drone service providers are the majority of UAS businesses that are actually flying and making a significant contribution to the United States economy, right now.”



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“Sixes” Director’s Cut Released After 15 Year – Filmed in the Rogue Valley

“Sixes” is an independent feature directed by Ray Nomoto Robison. It was shot over 15 years ago primarily in a warehouse in southern Oregon. It is one of the first totally digital feature films.

The 15th anniversary edition of Sixes releases this month. The film premiered at Dance with Films in Hollywood in 2006 to rave reviews – including this one from the late Todd David Schwartz of CBS Radio.

“A postmodern film noir masterpiece. If Rod Serling were alive,
this is the kind of film he’d be making. The film is stark, riveting
and unforgettable.”
-Todd David Schwartz, CBS Radio

After screening at several more film festivals, a couple distribution companies were interested in the film and Robison chose the one that seemed the most passionate about the film. That distributor took “Sixes” to the Cannes Film Festival and screened it there, but sadly in less than a year that distribution company folded. Eventually Robison was able to get the rights back and made the film available to stream on a few different platforms but by that time the momentum and buzz of its film festival success was gone. According to Robison “by then it was already a has-been especially since digital cinematography had gone Hi Def and “Sixes” had been shot in standard definition.”

Another unfortunate development was that the original distributor would only release it if it were in color. It had premiered in black and white and Robison had intended for “Sixes” to be told in black and white. But the distributor was sure it wouldn’t sell unless it had color. Now 15 years after its premiere it is available again to be viewed in black and white as the director intended. It will be a very limited release – stream and download only from Amazon – at least initially.

“In my opinion, even though the clarity is not as great as today’s higher resolution films “Sixes” still holds up as an intriguing well-told story.” says Robison “I’m glad the film will get another chance to be noticed by film lovers.” Considering the bad luck it experienced on its original release it deserves another look.

You can find the Director’s Cut of “Sixes” on Amazon and other digital platforms.

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Goodbye 2020! Reflecting On This Past Year? We Want To Hear! #OregonParkBenchStory

Park bench overlooking at the Painted Hills. Photo:

2020 is almost over – have you been reflecting on the ups and downs of this unusual year? We want to know.  The Oregon Made Creative Foundation, Soma Games, Willamette Writers, and Travel Oregon have come together to create the #OregonParkBenchStory – a storytelling generator to help us unpack  2020.

How to join #OregonParkBenchStory – December 28th onwards

1. Imagine yourself sitting on your favorite Oregon park bench – whether it’s near or far – and reflect on the past year.

2.Screen shot the template, choose a prompt (or if you would rather upload a photo of your own favorite park bench and use one of our prompts feel free to do so) and post to your public account on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

3.Include the hashtag #OregonParkBenchStory.

4. Use your caption to respond to one of the following writing prompts:

    • Knowing what you know now, what advice would you have given yourself for 2020?
    • What genre would you name your year in 2020?
    • If 2020 were a video game, what 3 items would you have prepared yourself with?
    • If 2020 were a book what would you call it?
    • What was your favorite unexpected adventure of 2020?
    • Engage with other responses to the #OregonParkBenchStory hashtag. You’re now part of the (unofficial) community.

For thousands of years, the tradition of storytelling has shaped cultures across the globe. The uniquely human tradition of storytelling is a powerful tool that connects across generations, cultures, and countries. Through the ages on every continent, people would gather in caves, in the desert and forests, on the savannah, and much later on village greens, in town markets and city green spaces – all coming together to talk and share. In more recent times, the humble park bench has become a familiar icon, a tangible place for all people to gather to think, talk, share, debate, complain, recite lore –to tell stories. As social media has evolved, storytelling has moved on-line, and in some ways moved away from a collective telling to a much more individual telling. ​ The #OregonParkBenchStory was created as a friendly prompt to bring us together as individual storytellers to create a larger shared experience that will describe our collective 2020.  Read More »

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Ballet Fantastique’s “American Christmas Carol” – A Holiday Ballet Film

Eugene’s Ballet Fantastique has created a wonderful holiday “ballet film” called American Christmas Carol, based on the story by Charles Dickens. The film was conceived, choreographed, and staged by Donna Marisa Bontrager and Hannah Bontrager, co-founders of Ballet Fantastique. It was filmed and directed by Jeremy Bronson of Bronson Studios in Portland.    American Christmas Carol was shot at several location in Eugene-Springfield, Walker, Leaburg, and Portland, Oregon.

This is the first film Ballet Fantastique has ever made.

You really need to see this remarkable film to appreciate what the filmmakers, choreographers, company dancers and film crew have accomplished.  You can find a trailer and link to buy or gift tickets for a virtual screening at

American Christmas Carol was made to provide a viewing alternative to the company’s very successful previous Christmas performance, which could not be staged this year at the Hult because of COVID-19 restrictions.

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Stories From The Oregon Film Trail – Film Tourism Is Thriving In Brownsville

In recent years, Film Tourism is growing into a more robust niche sector of cultural tourism, and remarkably Oregon has hundreds of incredible locations that have starred in films, TV series, and shows, as well as commercials. The Oregon Film Trail has been slowly rolling out more and more trail stops that highlight our State’s contribution to the film industry.  Historic Brownsville was one of the first towns to welcome Oregon Film Trail signs in recognition of its contribution to the film, “Stand By Me “.   Fans of this classic movie have been coming to Brownsville since its release in 1986 however it wasn’t until 2007 that the Brownsville community held the first event to commemorate the filming and the fan base expanded by leaps and bounds ever since. In the early days of Stand By Me Day the average visitor count was 100 to 200/day but after the 30th Anniversary, the visitors average leaped to 500/day and over 3,000 fans all-told.

We checked in with Linda McCormick (Chairman, Stand By Me Day) and Barbara Andersen (Staff at the Linn County Historical Museum) in Brownsville to find out how Film Tourism is affecting their charming small town that played for the fictitious, and much loved 1950’s era small town of “Castle Rock”.

Stories from the Oregon Film Trail

By Linda McCormick: Chairman of Stand By Me Day

“Brownsville has had fans coming to see the scene locations of “Stand By Me” since the movie came out back in 1986, but it really picked up around 2007 when we had our first event to celebrate the movie. Today, we have fans that fly in from foreign countries and across the United States!

Back in 2007, the Chamber of Commerce had a couple of members take on the task of planning an event and asked me if I would like to help. I had only seen the movie once, on TV, but figured I could try to help. I was able to track down a company from Austin, Texas, that traveled around the country showing movies where they were filmed. It turns out, the company had us on the shortlist and were about to contact us! It wasn’t much longer after making that connection that I read in the local newspaper that I was the chairman of the event. I learned then that you have to be careful in these small towns, or you will get signed up without knowing about it!

One of the first fans I met that I took around town was a young woman from Japan. She came here only to see where the movie was filmed. She was staying at a local B&B. I took her around to all the locations and left her at our local museum where she was watching the movie in our small theater…all by herself! She shared later that watching the movie right here, after our tour, was really special to her.

 Read More »

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“Tell Your Story” Grant Announces Winners!

The Oregon Made Creative Foundation (OMCF) is pleased to announce the winners of the “Tell Your Story” grant; Howard Mitchell, Emma Duvall, and Nic Popp.  This grant was funded through the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) and was part of the CARES Act and is being provided by the RACC, OMCF, and  Oregon Film. Supporting and contributing sponsors include Cast Iron Studios, Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA), Willamette Writers, and Gearhead Grip. Because this grant is being funded through RACC and funding from the CARES Act it was open to the City of Portland residents only.  The grant invited City of Portland BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Color – including but not limited to Latinx, Asian American, and Pacific Islanders) creators or creative teams to apply for a virtual-residency grant in order to develop, explore and/or shoot story(ies) that applicants want to tell in any film format they choose.  The grant was designed to be non-project specific to aid the filmmaker in any way needed.
About the winners:

Emma Duvall

Emma Duvall is a Korean-American actress and filmmaker who has worked in the Portland film industry for the past two years. She does not see herself represented in Portland-made films and wants to push for more Asian representation in the film industry, both on and off-screen. For her directorial debut, she will be telling a story from her mother’s childhood growing up in an abusive South Korean orphanage.

Nik Popp

Nik Popp is a Vietnamese-American filmmaker with Cuban background, born and raised in Portland, Oregon. Nik Popp, also known as Puurp, found his passion through directing music videos and studying films. After withdrawing from Oregon State University in 2015, Nik founded Puurple World and devoted himself full time to producing films. Nik aspires to soon direct his own full-length feature film and become a staple in the industry.

Howard L. Mitchell

Howard L. Mitchell is an African American writer, director, and visual artist of Afro-Latin, Dominican descent, born in Panama City, Panama. Under the pseudonym GATO, his films have appeared on television and internationally, garnering many awards along the way and embodies a world cinema, European style quality. His work also challenges the institutional constructs of cinema and is known to interweave dark humor with drama.

In 2018, Mitchell received the Oregon Media Arts Fellowship Award for demonstrating an “…ongoing commitment to the media arts and pushing his practice with new and engaging work.” Currently, Mitchell is developing an African American Noir mystery as well as a slate of other theatrical feature films.

Additionally, the connections, insights, experience, access to physical office space (at the Oregon Film Office), and consultations with strategic supporting and contributing sponsors, will be made directly available to each of the winning creators for a period of six months.
Now, more than ever, space and support need to be held for BIPOC creators.
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New York Film Critics Circle Announces #OregonMade “First Cow” As Best Film 2020!

The New York Film Critics Circle announces A24’s period drama, “First Cow as their “Best Film” choice for 2020. (Read more here from Daily Variety). “First Cow” shot entirely on location in Oregon last year at; Oxbow Regional Park, Sauvie Island, Portland, Milo McIver State Park, San Salvador State Beach, and Elkton among other locations.

Just recently the film and filmmakers were also recognized by The Gothams for Best Feature, Screenplay, Actor, and Breakthrough Actor in its 30th annual event.

Writer-director, Kelly Reichardt, has used Oregon for the backdrop of many of her features and indeed many of the production team (such as producers, Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani, and Vincent Savino) have worked together on other #OregonMade projects such as; “Wendy and Lucy,” “Night Moves,”  “Meek’s Cutoff” and “Certain Women” among others.  Johnathan Raymond (“Mildred Pierce”, “Meek’s Cutoff”, “Wendy and Lucy”) authored the novel on which “First Cow” was inspired.  Raymond and Reichardt co-wrote the “First Cow” screenplay and indie studio, A24, produced this feature.

A taciturn loner and skilled cook (John Magaro) has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds a true connection with a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) also seeking his fortune; soon the two collaborate on a successful business, although its longevity is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a nearby wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow.


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#OregonMade “Short Circuit” House Location, To Become Museum & Lodging In Astoria

Edward Stratton, from The Daily Astorian, reports that super fan, Richard Bates, recently purchased the Victorian home in Astoria that was used as a prominent location in the science fiction comedy film (1996).  Bates was only 6 years old when he saw “Short Circuit,” and immediately became a fan, and now has plans to turn the house into a museum and overnight stay lodging.

Over the years Astoria has been a celebrated Oregon location for many features, TV series, and documentaries and consequently boasts 3 Oregon Film Trail sign locations, one of which is dedicated to “Short Circuit”.  The sign stop is located in the small but picturesque Alameda Park overlooking the Astoria-Megler Bridge, which also features in the movie when the robot, Number 5, in a dramatic scene, escapes and falls from the bridge.

Oregon Film Trail sign stop at Alameda Park

Read more about Bates’s museum and lodging plans in the Daily Astorian here.


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