Someone has to sing their praises: You know, the guys and gals you never hear about on talk shows or blog sites: the grips and the gaffers and the extras casters, the craft services and painters and prop finders, the location scouts and managers, the production office runners and p.a.’s and the transportation providers. These Oregonians never know where their next pay-check is coming from, and sacrifice a normal lifestyle with steady wages in order to be available on a moment’s notice to Productions who want to film in Oregon, and whose professionalism keeps these productions coming back.
Jennifer Aniston, who threw a wrap party for Oregon’s Crew in Madras in 2007, told me that Oregon’s film crew was the best she had ever worked with. Today we have hundreds of experienced crew, some who began in small local Oregon Production Houses.
The reason I volunteered to write this is because I remember when most of this all started. I was an Oregon Casting Director and Location Scout back during the early 70’s under Oregon’s 1st Film Commissioner Warren Merrill, appointed by Governor Tom McCall. During his tenure, Oregon experienced a very profitable working relationship with the Neo-Classical Hollywood Filmmakers of the time. A lot of the films I worked on such as “Cuckoo’s Nest”, “Animal House” and “Stand By Me’ were Independent Films who were attracted to Oregon’s Maverick Government and whose low budget constraints forced them to hire locally. This is how a lot of us became experienced major motion picture crewmembers.
The Oregon born and bred experienced crew that I call the Oregon A-Team, has been paying their dues for as long as I can remember. Former Transportation Coordinator Philip Krysl started as Robert Culp’s driver on “Flood!” in the early 1970’s, and brought his childhood friend David Norris on as a Transportation Captain in the late 80’s; David and Philip brought Don Williams on in the early 90’s, who brought his wife, Patsy, on the set of “McKenna”, where she started first in wardrobe and costume, and seeing the need for a World Class Craft Service Truck, created the finest in the world.
The Lawson Brothers are also Oregonians who are World Class Grips, and they, along with the above mentioned crew, have mentored many others into Oregon’s Film Industry. Prop master Greg McMickel and Location Scouts Doug Hobart and Don Baldwin also started in the early 90’s, with the second major wave of filmmaking in Oregon under Film Commissioner David Woolson, an infamous marketing genius and former business affairs executive @ Orion. Several of these A-listers started their decades-long professional careers on Disney’s “Incredible Journey “ in the Wallowa Mountains of North Eastern Oregon in 1990.
Today, the majority of Oregon’s crew have been told they are the most polite, easy-going, talented and hardest working professionals Hollywood has ever encountered “On Location.” During these chaotic and changing times in our industry, I just wanted to take a minute to honor all of you and say “Thank You!” to Oregon’s film crew for all of your sacrifices and hard work, and paving the way for Oregon’s Future in Film.