HB 2167 – My Written Testimony

Several people asked me to make available my written testimony in yesterday’s hearing on HB 2167.  It was a spirited hearing despite the fact that we only had 30 minutes.  We have also provided online information related to our office and the bill here. The remaining testimony and questions will continue on Friday but in the meantime, here’s what I provided.

Co-Chairs Bentz and Read, members of the committee, I am Vince Porter, Executive Director of the Oregon Film and Video office.  Today I’m here to share some information with you about the success of the Oregon Production Investment Fund and the Greenlight Labor Rebate and why HB 2167 is a good bill worth supporting. I would like to start with the numbers.

Since 2007, the total amount of direct spend in Oregon on “OPIF and Greenlight qualified” film and television projects has amounted to $178,525,405.  Based on the projects we know to be producing in our state this year, we expect that number to increase to $275,000,000 by the end of 2011.  In addition, the Greenlight labor rebate has brought in over $30,000,000 in commercial production over this four-year period and if trends continue, we expect over $10,000,000 of commercial production to happen this year.

All of this economic activity has happened despite the fact that there are over forty states and every Canadian Province competing with Oregon for this work through their own film incentive programs.  Despite the fact that our programs rank us in the lower third of all incentive programs, we still manage to get our share of this business.  We have done this by focusing on specific types of projects that fit best with our state’s advantages and creative community – those being Television Series, Low Budget Independent Films, and Animation.

I’m often asked – why the motion picture industry?  For me there are four key reasons:

Net Exporter for U.S. – Motion Picture Industry is a $13.6billion trade surplus industry.

Above Average Wage Jobs with pension and health benefits – 34% Higher than per capita income in Oregon.

Broad scope of impact to local small businesses

Little to No impact on our state’s natural resources

Most recently we have been lucky enough to have the television series “Leverage” produced in Oregon.  It’s been a great partnership and the producers of the show have been so fond of our state that they re-wrote their next project, the TV Pilot “Brain trust” so it could be set in Portland.  I wanted to share a few facts about the impact “Leverage” has made in Oregon

By the end of next season (their 4th total and 3rd in Oregon), the total amount of direct spend in Oregon will be over $75,000,000.

Season 3

  • 471 Local Hires were put on payroll during the season.  Collectively those employees worked 204,938 hours.
  • In addition, over $350,000 was spent hiring locals to be extras or background performers.
  • Over $1,900,000 was spent on Pension, Health, and Welfare fund contributions
  • 417 Local Vendors were paid by the show representing 22 of the 30 senate districts in Oregon

Those are just a few of the numbers that demonstrate the kind of impact OPIF and Greenlight have made in Oregon.  But I believe the impact goes beyond the numbers.  Not included in these numbers are the long-term tourism impact and general exposure our state benefits from projects shot in Oregon.  When the first film of the “Twilight” series was produced in Oregon, thousands of tourists flocked to the communities that served as locations for the series, this year over 3,000 people showed up in Astoria to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “The Goonies”, and even “Leverage” is responsible for 500 people traveling from parts as far off as Australia to attend a local “Leverage” fan convention.  Recently we have seen a constant stream of press relating to the satirical TV show “Portlandia” (the NY times has written 3 articles alone about the show) and the independent film “Meek’s Cutoff” (soon to be released Theatrically) has already been screened in three of the top film festivals in the world with premieres in Venice, Toronto and Sundance.

Today there are three television series on the air, three TV pilots, one HBO mini-series, two completed feature films and another film coming all set in Oregon.  I’m happy to report that this week we have one of the television pilots committing to filming in March and the feature film committing to filming in April which means that along with season 4 of “Leverage”, we expect to be very busy this spring and summer.  In the animation industry, the local company Bent Image Lab is closing on a deal to produce a holiday special for a cable network.  With these three recent projects applying and qualifying for OPIF, we have now fully allocated our funds.  Waiting in line behind these projects are the potential “Brain trust” series which we should know by April, two independent films set to film in southern Oregon, and another independent film for Portland.  By May, NBC will decide the fate of their upcoming pilot set in Portland.  Needless to say there are several producers and production companies very interested in the outcome of this legislative session.

All of this good news is due to the fact that Oregon’s creative capital is at an all time high.  Whether it’s the film and television industry, the music industry, or advertising and marketing industry, Oregon is making waves throughout the creative community.  OPIF and Greenlight are essential tools for us to build on this capital and by passing HB 2167, I believe the opportunities for economic growth are tremendous.  Today several individuals have come with their own personal stories about how these programs have benefited not only them but also many other Oregonians.  Thank You

-Vince Porter

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