Last week I made the trip down to Los Angeles to take a few meetings, get some industry intelligence, and hopefully drum up some business for Oregon. I wanted to fill everyone in on my trip.
June 3 – I arrived in LA and had meetings at TNT, Warner Brothers, Walt Disney Company, and NBC Universal. My meeting with Bob Phillips at TNT was very positive and I can tell you that the cable channel is a big fan of “Leverage” and a big fan of Portland! Not to jinx anything, but my gut tells me “Leverage” is going to be on that channel for a while. Currently it is the number two rated show on TNT only behind “The Closer”. TNT’s pilot season is set for the fall and we hope to be able to bid on one of their pilots if the location makes sense. Warner Brothers was an interesting meeting as I met with Kevin Fortson who had very little knowledge of Oregon. I think we made some headway with them but there is nothing on the horizon we can bid on.
At the Walt Disney Company I met with Mary Ann Hughes who is VP of Film and Television Production Planning. Michael Andreen, an Oregon Duck and Disney Sr. VP, set the meeting up for me. Mary Anne had a lot of interesting information to give me as she consults with every Disney entity on film incentives. As a matter of corporate policy, Disney does not film anywhere without a film incentive. She also has successfully lobbied for film incentive legislation in South Carolina, Florida, and New York when Disney has had projects in those states. We are planning a follow up meeting in the near future where she will set up meetings for me and the various production entities under the Disney banner. Her instinct was that our program would be of greatest interest to the basic cable, low budget feature, and digital media projects.
At NBC/Universal, I met with all the production execs for the unit (both network Television and Basic Cable). The head of the department is Exec VP Gerry DiCanio who ironically almost moved to Portland 15 years ago to work for Weiden + Kennedy. Gerry too felt that our program would work best in the basic cable world. With network shows that get 22 episode orders, our incentive can not offer enough money for multiple years because of our cap. At the 12 episode order (like most basic cable shows) we can provide the necessary incentives.
June 4 – I began the day at Sony studios where I met with Ed Lammi. I’ve known Ed for several years and we had a good meeting. Ed is the main organizer of a quarterly dinner for production executives and we penciled in the possibility of having Oregon sponsor one of the dinners next year (they are already fully booked for this year).
Afterwards, I met with Dama Claire and Jeff Begun at the Incentives Office. Jeff and Dama are well respected Producers/Execs who are currently focusing on the numerous incentive programs across the country. Jeff produced a film in Oregon many years ago and is always inclined to recommend the state based on his experience. Most of the projects the two consult on are in the independent film world.
I also dropped in on my old stomping grounds at Showtime to see my old boss and a few colleagues. Most of the group there is focused on the current shows (“Dexter”, “Californication”) as well as their future show “The Borgias” which is being shot in Hungary. They have put one pilot into development with Samuel Jackson producing that is set in the Northwest, but that is at least a year off before they get a script and possibly order it to Production. Afterwards, I went to visit with an exec from Fox Searchlight who has a feature set for the late summer/ early fall. It is way too early to tell if Oregon is going to be a good fit for the project, but I will just say that we are aggressively pursuing the project. I finished my 2 days of meetings at Electric Entertainment. Their offices were by far the busiest of any that I visited. We had a short but nice meeting, and I will tell you that Dean is committed to Oregon and committed to promoting our film and TV industry.
June 5 – I finished my stay by attending the Producer’s Guild Produced By conference. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was well worth the time to attend. The Producer’s Guild estimated that over 1,000 people attended the 2 day conference. It started with a “breakfast with the film commissioners” event which I attended. At the breakfast I met several new contacts (including yet another person who lives in Oregon but works in LA!) and got a few good leads. I also attended several panels including one on state incentives. The panel consisted of various “incentive” experts and producers. Their comments were both informative and a little frustrating. One thing is for sure, it is still a buyers market out there and we are in a large pool of states competing hard for the business. All in all, it was one of the more rewarding conferences I’ve been to recently and one I highly recommend to all aspiring producers in Oregon. It was not cheap, but I felt it was worth the money.
That’s the scoop. Things in the office have been pretty busy, but unfortunately we do not have something to announce… yet. We hope that will change soon. In the meantime, I hear that the commercial world is very busy. The other day I heard from a producer that he was having a tough time assembling a crew. I hope that is the case, and that many of you are working!
-Vince Porter, Executive Director
Oregon Governor’s Office of Film & Television