Filmin' in the Rain and Other Oregon Myths

By David Poulshock

My best friend is writing a musical called RAIN. He’s a master at irony and his show is set in a globally-warmed future when rain no longer falls in Portland. Its anthem is “What’s Portland Without the Rain?” Obama had to have his John McCain / Send out Lewis without a Clark? That’s insane / Would you Bogey without Bacall / What’s a Taj with no Mahal / So what’s the point of Portland without the rain? 1.

Too bad Danny Kaye isn’t still around. My friend’s show would have been a great 21st century sequel to “Singin’ in the Rain.”

There are many myths about Oregon’s rain. Like “home of the rain tan” or “most taverns per capita due to a melancholy-inducing perpetual mist” (but look what that gave birth to: the microbrew center of the universe! I know there’s a movie in there somewhere, a “Sideways” ode to Oregon IPA?).

Ah, but the myths are false.

If it rains so much here, why would William Friedken spend god knows how much money rigging Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge with a thousand sprinklers to film Tommy Lee chasing Benicio in a downpour? (BTW, I found “The Hunted’s” IMDb tagline amusing: “In This Game Of Hide And Seek, If You’re It… You’re Dead.” Perhaps better to have read, “If You’re It… You’re Wet.”)

Still, I have to admit, in Oregon there’s much ado about water.

Think about it. This is the state where a killer whale can be called Willy. Where Beavers and Ducks are famous mascots. And where, in an arid town east of the mountains where the sun shines 300 days a year, my own high school mascot was called Pelican Pete! All water creatures!

And not coincidentally, as I write this, I’m staring out my window at more water than you can imagine – the mighty Columbia pouring into the Pacific (where Willy’s spirit might still be roaming free). I do a lot of my writing near Astoria – another Oregon town familiar to filmmakers like Richard Donner (“The Goonies”), John Hillcoat (“The Road”), Ivan Reitman (“Kindergarten Cop”) and Sean Penn (“Into the Wild”).

When I was a kid, my parents moved us from the O.C. to eastern Oregon – from Disneyland to a rustic cabin built by some Hollywood set designer who loved duck hunting. No running water. Outhouse. Woodstove. Roughing it on the same side of the state where Joshua Logan filmed Paint Your Wagon.

The things I remember most about that move to Oregon: the farther north we got, the bigger the pancakes, the friendlier the people, the brighter the sun, and the greener the trees (that must have something to do with rain, right?).

Great people, great scenery, great sunshine, great food – no wonder great filmmakers love Oregon. Sure, there may be no Portland without the rain, but rain or shine, every time I launch a production, I’m as happy as Danny Kaye singin’ in the rain.

Writer/Director David Poulshock is the recipient of over fifty regional and national awards for his commercial and entertainment projects and screenplays, and is a member of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. His production company, Red Door Films, is based in Portland, Oregon.

1. Rain lyrics © 2009 by Moore Music

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