Let’s vote together! OMPA Ballot Party—Thursday, 10/22

OMPA Ballot Party

Thursday, October 22 | 5pm PT | RSVP for Zoom Info

Hang on to your ballots! 📮🇺🇸 We know it might feel like you can’t vote fast enough, but there’s more than one race (and ballot measure) to vote on! Join OMPA 🌟today at 5pm🌟 to hear our political strategist’s take on the candidates and ballot measures, and discuss over beers with your peers! 🍻

RSVP for Zoom Info: bit.ly/ompaballotparty2020

(Don’t worry, we’ll wrap by 6 for the Presidential debate!)

 


Why it matters on an industry level

Our positive relationships with city and state legislators have helped Oregon become a top location for all kinds of media production. Our local policymakers ensure our industry has access to filming permits, state incentives, workforce-development funding and more.

 


About OMPA

Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA) is a central source for reliable information, urgent advocacy, and advancing common interests in our industry.

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The New Normal – How Our Production Community Is Adapting To Covid – Cast Iron Studios

 

We will be making a series of blog posts on a variety of production businesses here in Oregon – we want to know what creative options have been put in place to offset the disruption that Covid-19 has caused. 

Like so many other businesses, the Oregon production community has been hit hard by the havoc that Covid-19 has wreaked.  Many community partners have come together to provide up-to-date information on safety procedures and new protocol guidelines that are being improved upon on all the time.  (OMPA has the latest here.) As production has slowly begun to come back we wanted to check in with some of our production support businesses to ask how they have been adapting to this new normal.  This month we checked in with Cast Iron Studios – the Northwest’s leading casting company.

Oregon Film (OF): Assuming the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted your business, like so many others, what aspect would you say has been the most surprising?

Cast Iron Studios (CI): Not surprising, but reaffirming, has been the resilience of our team, and that of the actors and talent agents we work closely with. Soon after the pandemic broke out, we shifted our annual Meals for Monologues food drive for the Oregon Food Bank to a virtual format, and we were overwhelmed by the level of participation.  We blew past all previous fundraising efforts—even though everyone had just lost their jobs!—and raised enough funds to provide over 6000 meals for our community. It was a humbling moment. We were very moved.

OF: What are the main modifications you have had to make to accommodate this new normal? (Which ideas have worked/been successful, which ones not so much?)

CI: We’ve shifted all of our casting sessions to self-tapes, and all of our callbacks and chemistry reads to Zoom. We had already been using these tools pre-pandemic, so it was a relatively easy transition, although it definitely puts more of a burden on the actors for now. And there are always going to be technical issues that arise when you least need them, but we’re all powering through, and our clients have been more than understanding. Meanwhile, we’ve been on a lot of videoconferences with other casting directors around the country and the world, collaborating on the best ways to still provide excellent service.

OF: Are there any surprising areas of growth in your business since the pandemic started?

CI: The volume of work has been substantially lower than in a typical year, but the kinds of projects are still similar, albeit with COVID protocols in place. Mainly, it’s given us a chance to breathe and reevaluate how we do things. I’ve also been able to focus a bit more on my work for the ICDN (International Casting Directors Network), of which I serve on the board of directors. I’m currently helping to produce a star-studded virtual award ceremony at Sitges Film Festival in Barcelona, Spain for our 2020 Best Casting Award, so it’s very exciting!

OF: Have you had to implement new training for your staff?

CI: Overall, our department has been less impacted by COVID than those that work on set. We were already working virtually at times—with directors in Vancouver BC, producers in LA, ad agents in NYC and Chicago, etc.—so we’ve just expanded this to all sessions. That being said, our staff has been on a learning curve, testing out different virtual casting platforms and processes, just to make sure we have the best tools at our disposal for each unique project.

OF: If there has been any impact on staff morale, how have you successfully been able to mitigate this?

CI: I am more grateful than ever to have a team that has a positive, can-do attitude. It has made navigating this uncertain time so much more manageable, just to know that we all have each others’ backs.

OF: What are you most proud of doing well during this challenging time?

CI: After 20 years in business, we had already made it through the devastating SAG commercial strike of 2000, the months-long standstill after 9/11, the Great Recession, and a fire in our office building in 2016—not to mention the wild fluctuations of production in general—so we’ve been through crises before. And we’re grateful that those have prepared us to overcome pretty much anything. I am just proud to still be standing, still be fully available for work, with our entire core team intact. Once things return to normal, we anticipate a massive flood of production, and we’re ready for it!

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Remembering Anne Richardson

Our community lost someone this week who has given us all laughter, entertainment, education, friendship and a deep connection to our history. Anne Richardson grew up in Portland and continued to give back to our community for all of her life. 

Amongst so many other things, Anne started and directed the annual Oregon Film History Conference, presented by Oregon Cartoon Institute which she co-founded in 2007 with her husband, Dennis Nyback. This annual conference was an event we were not only happy to attend every year, but also sponsor in a small form. The Film History Conference was a place to gather, to learn, and to meet so many luminaries from Oregon’s animation and illustration community; a community that is deeper and more ingrained in our creative culture than many people realize. The next Conference will be held on November 20, 2020.

We are forever grateful to Anne for all of the new worlds she opened for us, her words and her work that she brought into our work, for reminding and teaching us so much of that rich history and for helping so many Oregon filmmakers connect to and thrive from that unique cultural connection.

Thank you, Anne, we will always remember you, we will miss you and we are better for all that you’ve brought into our lives.

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Ashland Is On The Oregon Film Trail With Two New Signs!

The 18th and 19th signs on the Oregon Film Trail are now installed in the City of Ashland – they celebrate the town’s starring role in “Wild” and the historic Oregon Shakespeare Festival as inspiration for “Coraline”.  The signs are now located in the Downtown Plaza, and at the intersection of Pioneer Street and East Main Street in front of OSF’s Black Swan Theatre and the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.

Historic downtown Ashland featured prominently in “Wild”, the highly acclaimed 2014 film adaptation of the best-selling book, starring Reese Witherspoon as Oregon author Cheryl Strayed.  The story chronicles Strayed’s transformative solo hike along a 1,100-mile stretch of the iconic Pacific Crest Trail, which spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. Nearly 60 Oregon locations were used in “Wild”, in addition to areas of Ashland. When Witherspoon’s character emerges from hiking following a particularly difficult section of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Downtown Plaza doubled as a community-gathering place to mourn the death of the Grateful Dead icon Jerry Garcia.

A fictionalized version of Ashland inspired the setting of the animated feature, Coraline, the first stop-motion film from Oregon-based Laika Studios, and adapted from Neil Gaiman’s novella of the same name. “Coraline” was written and directed by Henry Selick, who decided early on to move the film’s setting from England to the U.S. Having already visited Ashland, he was inspired by the small, desirable southern Oregon city and said it gave the story, “an authenticity that made this fantasy believable“. The film tells the story of Coraline, a young girl living in a small and charming town, complete with a Shakespeare Festival that permeates the culture and wonder of the community, who finds a door leading to a parallel reality.

The location of multiple productions, Ashland has been named a “best place to live and work as a moviemaker” by MovieMaker Magazine and boasts many additional credits, including Kelly Reichardt’s, “Night Moves”, and several films from the Oregon-based Director and Producer team, Gary and Anne Lundgren, most notably; “Redwood Highway”, “Black Road”, and “Calvin Marshall”. (They also produced “Phoenix, Oregon”, set in the town of the same name close to Ashland that was tragically burned in the recent Almeda Fire. The producers started a fundraiser for the town residents.) Ashland is also home to the world-class Ashland Independent Film Festival and AIFF Film Center, which offer year-round independent film programming and education, and Southern Oregon University’s Digital Cinema production program.

These signs are a collaborative partnership between the Governor’s Office of Film & Television (A.K.A. Oregon Film), partnered with the Oregon Made Creative Foundation and was paid for in part by a grant from Travel Oregon, a grant from the City of Ashland facilitated by Andrew Gay, Associate Professor & Program Coordinator Digital Cinema at Southern Oregon University, in partnership with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and with support from Film Southern Oregon. Oregon Film in partnership with the Oregon Made Creative Foundation and Astoria Warrenton
Chamber of Commerce created the Oregon Film Trail concept. It features signage located at strategic filming locations around the state. The Trail aims to strengthen the correlation between the film/television industry, economic development, and tourism, and to celebrate unique Oregon locations that are iconic in their own right.
It’s with great pride that we are able to recognize even a small quotient of Ashland’s contribution
to Oregon’s film and creative culture,” said Tim Williams, Executive Director of Oregon Film, “these signs will help us all mark the value Ashland’s unique creative community both here in Oregon and internationally.”

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#EOFF2020: Watch With Us!

La Grande, Ore – Eastern Oregon Film Festival will be celebrating its eleventh year of independent film and music programming VIA La Grande, Oregon on October 22-24, 2020.This year EOFF joins a trend that we are all becoming more accustomed to – online delivery via a virtual cinema partner.

Working along with presentation platform EVENTIVE, Festival staff have labored to ensure that the delivery of the film program is as accessible as possible to all of our members and pass holders. Purchasing an All-Access Festival Pass from the festival’s website will grant the pass holder one-click access to all of the program offerings, including juicy independent cinema like the West Coast Premiere of Gillian Wallace Horvat’s I BLAME SOCIETY, face-melting Metal Music from La Grande’s own NOGERO and interactive virtual Q&A’s with many of this year’s Filmmakers — The festival pass is the way to go. A la carte ticketing per-film is also available.

Program highlights include live-streamed virtual Q&A’s with festival directors all weekend, special presentations by Jed Laurance of Ingenuity Studios (Glimpse through the veil. VFX, trends and the future), the collective creative team of Vanishing Angle (IMMORTAL) sharing insight into the spirit of their production process, and regional film production, Out of Character, captained by Jefferey Hill and Liberty O’Dell who will take us into a fun glimpse at Production in the Path of Covid.

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“Tell Your Story” Grant – A Residency Opportunity For Portlanders – Now Accepting Applications

 

This single $10,000 grant will be awarded to the City of Portland BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Color – including but not limited to Latinx, Asian American, and Pacific Islanders) creators or creative teams for a virtual-residency in order to develop, explore and/or shoot story(ies) applicants want to tell in any film format they choose.

The connections, insights, experience, access to physical office space (at the Oregon Film Office, if needed), 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. After that, consultations will be provided on a continuing basis as/when those resources are useful.

Now, more than ever, space and support need to be held for BIPOC creators.  These residency grants can be used for any creative purpose.  A final required project report will update the progress, benchmarks, and creative outcomes that were pursued during the residency period. Additionally, monthly check-ins will be offered to ensure that adequate support is being given whenever and wherever that’s possible. Because this grant is funded through the CARES Act it is open to the City of Portland residents only This grant is being provided by the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), OMCF, and  Oregon Film. Supporting and contributing sponsors include Cast Iron Studios, Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA), and Gearhead Grip.

Timeline:
Applications open 9 AM PST Monday, October 12, 2020
Deadline for applications: 5 PM PST Friday, November 13, 2020
Aiming to notify the winner by December 15, 2020

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How the Classic #OregonMade Film “Coraline” Came To Be Set In Ashland, OR

Coraline,” the first feature created by Hillsboro-based animation studio, Laika, was released in 2009 to much critical acclaim and box office success. Recently, Oregon Film reached out to the film’s screenwriter and director, Henry Selick, to find out how the movie, based on a book by Neil Gaiman, came to be set in the small southern Oregon town of Ashland.

Selick said, “I began writing my screenplay for “Coraline” years ago at my home in Northern California. Early on, I decided to move the setting from England to the U.S.  there was just one problem. I wanted to keep Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, Coraline’s eccentric neighbors and Shakespearean actors, British. So where, in all of America, would these two unique ladies be living? Then I remembered beautiful Ashland, Oregon, and its famous Shakespeare festival. I’d visited many times over the years, my wife and I had even considered moving there at one point. So I had my new location.  

Some years passed – studios were afraid to make “Coraline” saying it was too scary for kids – when an executive from what was still called Vinton Studios in Portland, reached out to me. They had an in-house short film they wanted me to direct. I said I’d do it if they would let me develop “Coraline” as an animated feature film. The executive agreed.  

So, I moved to Portland, my family soon to follow, to direct their short film with a team of animators, the best of them named Travis Knight. After the short film was completed, I was ready to develop “Coraline” but the executive reneged, telling me, “Coraline” was “dark, darker, darkest!” and would never be made at the studio.  

Travis, son of studio owner Phil Knight, disagreed. In time, I got to make “Coraline” the animated movie with full artistic support from Travis – as supervising animator, and Phil at the newly renamed Laika. The film was a solid hit when released and remains a favorite of fans to this day. 

It was a joy to build sets inspired by the real Ashland, Oregon, with characters in costume for its Shakespeare Festival on its streets to greet young Coraline and family. Setting the movie in and around Ashland gave it an authenticity that made this fantasy believable. I never imagined when I first set “Coraline” in Ashland that I would be making the movie in the same state.”

Coming soon to Ashland are two more Oregon Film Trail signs, one of which memorializes Ashland’s special inspiration for “Coraline”.

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Horror Film Festival Celebrates Lucky 13th Year – Streams Online

killer-valley-text-sharpened

Southern Oregon’s 2020 Killer Valley Horror Film Festival (KVHFF) celebrates it’s lucky #13 this year, but for the first time ever, it will not be hosted live.  In previous years this festival celebrated independent filmmakers with in-person screenings, filmmaker meet-and-greets, and an awards ceremony in Ashland, OR.

This year, the 2020 Killer Valley Horror Film Festival launches officially on their website at 3am, Oct. 9th (the witching hour) and runs through midnight of Nov. 1st, 2020 (as the Day of the Dead makes way for All Soul’s Day).

KVHFF is not the first festival to turn to digital streaming, but it is still a new approach for traditional live events to cater to fans strictly through the Internet.  Executive Director Randy Granstrom has said he misses the mingling and the networking with film cast & crew during the festival, and 2020 will be the first year he hasn’t directly presented awards to the filmmakers.  This year’s award-winners have each recorded their acceptance speeches separately, to be presented on the festival’s website and social media at 9pm on Oct. 9th.

mark-pattonHighlight’s of this year’s films include the Portland-produced, “1 Dead Dog,” a feature film from director Rollyn Stafford that stars Brian Sutherland, Daniel Timothy Treacy, and Meagan Karimi-Naser. Karimi-Naser took home the Best Actress Award at this year’s festival.

The film also features horror icon Mark Patton, who famously played the reluctant protagonist Jesse in “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” in 1985. Patton is also the focus of the recently trending documentary on Shudder, “Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street.

In good company, Heather Langenkamp, the star of the iconic film that launched the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, and who also reprised her role in two sequels, also makes an appearance in this year’s festival.  Langenkamp stars in a short film, “Cottonmouth,” which appears in the first of two KVHFF Short Film Blocks.

Additional short films were submitted from all over the world. Standouts of this year’s selected films include: “Malakout,” a stop-motion tale of evil and demonic possession that oozes dread, “Fantasmagoria,” an Italian film that harkens back to the silent film era with a vicious edge of 70’s Giallo extremism, “Snake Eyes: an ASMR Nightmare,” which is a masterful play on the senses with striking audio/visual storytelling, and “Night of the Witch,” a satirical take on the teen slasher films of the 80s.

With films from Iran, Sweden, Ukraine, Denmark, Czech Republic, Italy, Canada, and the USA, the selection of 27 short films for this festival were done by a team of trusted cinephiles, led by film editor and long-time KVHFF Festival Programmer, Ross Williams.

The 2020 Killer Valley Horror Film Festival will be streaming all the films in 3 distinct blocks.  Fans can purchase a view pass to watch the films at any time within the 3 week viewing window. Horror fans can visit the website for more details at: KillerValleyHorrorFilmFestival.com.

films-banner-confluence

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Virtual Production, Utilizing Unreal Engine, At Picture This In Portland

Marrying game-engine technology to virtual production techniques cracks open an expansive new world of creative filmmaking and business opportunities.

Virtual production, utilizing Unreal Engine, a video game rendering technology, and immersive LED screens, will be the new driver for innovation in cinematic storytelling enabling a creative flexibility previously unimaginable.

The first production to truly take advantage of this revolution, and helped create it, was The Mandalorian, on Disney+.

And now this technology is in Portland.

This innovative workflow was used to film more than half of “The Mandalorian” Seasons 1 and 2, enabling the filmmakers to:

  • greatly reduce on-location shoots
  • capture a significant amount of complex VFX shots with accurate lighting and reflections in-camera
  • simultaneously integrate and manipulate live-action and computer-generated assets
  • actors work in an actual virtual environment–combining advantages of location shooting with CGI imagination.
  • no physical stage means no story limitations
  • decrease crew-size significantly: both a cost-saving measure and a reflection of the new, critical, safety measures that will be a requirement for shooting in the age of COVID-19

In filmmaking, showing is better than telling.

Have a look at this behind-the-scenes making of “The Mandolorian” here.

Picture This Virtual Production Studio set-up

So, where is this taking place in Oregon?

PICTURE THIS PRODUCTIONS, a premier production-rental house in the Northwest that has been building out a Virtual Production soundstage for the last several months.

PICTURE THIS has over 350 Absen x2v panels in-house, with double that number of panels available to them via local partnerships; the rigging and hardware required, including Quadro Rtx 6000 graphics cards; and they can create a Volume similar in size to the Unreal Engine Siggraph 2019 presentation. This set-up includes x100 V2.6mm panels on the back wall (with matching inventory) and x200 4mm panels for the side walls.

PICTURE THIS has a three-person tech team devoted to Unreal Engine and is running sophisticated camera, tracking, and in-camera VFX tests as it prepares to launch virtual production as a rental service.

Contact: Picture This  503.235.3456 [email protected]

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S3 of “Shrill” – Underway This Fall

Season 3 of “Shrill” will start shooting this fall in the greater Portland area. This successful Hulu comedy series is based on the book “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman” by Lindy West, who also co-created the show along with Aidy Bryant and Ali Rushfield.

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