Oregon Film: Who We Are and What We Do (Update 2019)

Film CommissionThis has become something of a tradition, at least in our minds. As we come to the end of another fiscal year, we want to take a moment and reflect on some of the things we have been able to accomplish during the past year and hopefully come up with some improvements for the next.

As part of Oregon Film’s effort to reach projects and talent that are not being directly impacted by our incentive programs, we helped create a separate non-profit called the, #OregonMade Creative Foundation (OMCF). Utilizing unique partnerships with places like Travel Oregon, Prosper Portland, Danner Boots, Playa Summer Lake, Northwest Film Center, NW Documentary and the Portland Film Office, the OMCF has financed and promoted several specially designed programs awarding grants such as; two Outdoor Diversity Film Grants, four post production grants, screenwriter and filmmaker fellowships and a grant to create a short series celebrating the magic of Oregon Winter Season. In addition, the Creative Foundation partnered with local producers, IATSE and the Oregon Media Production Association to do a series of Opportunity Employment job placement programs on network television series and feature films.

This has resulted in several, intentionally placed, paid job opportunities for community members from diverse backgrounds on features and series shooting here. Also, through a unique partnership with local production company Lower Boom and Comcast the OMCF supported the selection of a group of 6 writers from diverse backgrounds to create a writer’s room focused on developing a locally produced pilot and series.

Together with Travel Oregon and Laika, we put together a statewide tour to celebrate 10 years of the seminal animated #OregonMade feature film “Coraline.” It played in 8 different Oregon cities and raised $10,000 for charities working to restore the state’s parks and trails after the devastating wildfires of the last two years. This preceded the release of Laika’s most recent feature film, “Missing Link.”

All told, the OMCF has awarded more than $100,000 over the past year to creators and projects and artists living in working in Oregon.

We also worked with The Hollywood Theater to continue our series of #OregonMade films – selling out screenings of #OregonMade classics like, “Kansas City Bomber” and “The Goonies.” We added partners at Cinema21, Clinton Street Theater and the Northwest Film Center to allow new #OregonMade films to premiere in local cinemas – like Jon Garcia’s “Sex Weather” and Jesse Borrego in “Phoenix, Oregon.” These special screening programs will continue throughout the rest of this year with a special two-part screening of a series of documentaries about Portland’s most iconic trees, “Canopy Stories,” and the fourth year of our partnership with The Hollywood, Travel Oregon and Oregon State Parks to bring outdoor screenings to places like Rooster Rock, Milo McIvar and Champoeg State Parks.

As we expected, the landscape of projects coming to Oregon has changed since we were so lucky to have long standing series like, “Grimm,” “Portlandia,” “The Librarians” and “Leverage.”

However, before we talk about the new, let’s take a brief look at the old.

Those four series mentioned above? Well, put together they make up 22 different “seasons,” accounting for more than half a billion dollars of in-state spending and effecting more than 1000 jobs annually. In addition, each one of these productions interacted with hundreds of local businesses allowing for a steadily broadening landscape for small businesses servicing the television film and interactive industries. On top of that, during the 2015-2017 biennium more than $300M was accounted for in tracked in-state spending affecting more than 6000 jobs over 45 specific projects and many locally produced commercial campaigns.

Clementine writer-director, Lara Jean Gallagher, works with actors Otmara Marrero, Sydney Sweeney, and Will Brittain between takes on location in Florence, OR. (Photograph by Allyson Riggs)

We also recently introduced a “regional” fund, or rOPIF, which has financially encouraged productions to move their production spending to other parts of the state. This brings spending to other regions of Oregon and it makes it easier for productions to photograph and utilize the many, many different landscapes and locations that this state has to offer. For the FY 2017-2018, 11 projects used this program to move some or all of their production to areas around the state; to places like Elkton, Manzanita, Klamath Falls and Bend. All of these projects are utilizing Oregon crews, purchasing from local vendors, eating at local restaurants and staying in local hotels. And, through an ongoing partnership with Travel Oregon, we continue to utilize these projects as wide-audience platforms to augment the marketing of the entire state as a tourist destination.

What about the many new projects we have had shooting here in Oregon during the past year? These include new series from Netflix, Hulu and Warner Brothers, new features from Disney and Laika, and many other #OregonMade indies that have shot around the state. For example, the second seasons of “American Vandal” and “The OA,” season 3 of “Documentary Now,” the first seasons of “Shrill,” “Trinkets,” and the Pretty Little Liars spinoff, “The Perfectionists.” We’ve also seen numerous award nominations for the #OregonMade films, “Lean on Pete” and “Leave No Trace” (the latter of which still holds a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.)

Locally produced feature films also garnered numerous awards and screenings. Films like, “My Summer as a Goth,” “The Reluctant Radical,” “Woodstock or Bust” and “Clementine.” In fact, “Clementine” held its world premiere at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April.

The Oregon interactive community not only created amazing titles such as, “World Next Door,” “Terraria,” “Super Fight” and “Legends of Redwall: The Scout,” it also began to see increased recognition for even more immersive experiences coming from companies like SuperGenius and Hinge Digital.

It has been encouraging to see the growth in animation here in the state – more specifically stop-motion animation, where one feature length project can provide more than 300 jobs over a three year period. Currently there are three feature length stop motion projects happening here in Oregon, with a fourth and possibly a fifth, still on the way. Our work and our programs have been vital in attracting and retaining these new, locally produced, multi-year animation projects and stopping their production from going overseas to other animation production centers like London. We look forward to the (re)launch of the animation specific jobs sourcing site: OregonAnimation.com to help this effort along.

The film and television industry in Oregon is now 110 years old and the projects that have utilized Oregon crews and locations still draw tourists from every part of the world. “Paint Your Wagon” and “Animal House” celebrated their 50th and 40th anniversaries in 2018 and they still continue to serve as a tourist destination in Baker and Lane counties as does “The Goonies” for Astoria.

To help further recognize Oregon’s filmic history, we have begun to roll out the Historic Oregon Film Trail after having launched the project (in the form of a mural of Oregon’s regions, film locations and film history) at PDX airport last year.  Oregon Film worked with the City of Astoria, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce and Oregon Film Musuem to erect a series of specially designed signs commemorating the locations of films shot in and around the Astoria area. In addition, Oregon Film has partnered with Oregon State Parks to erect a similar sign in Gleneden SP along with the planting of 50 new trees to commemorate 50 years of partnership between the two agencies and the production of the Paul Newman’s “Sometimes a Great Notion,” shot in and around nearby Lincoln City. Three more signs went up in Brownsville this May recognizing locations for the iconic #OregonMade film, “Stand By Me.” These will be followed by signs in Ecola State Park on the North Coast, as well as Salem, Joseph, Athena and Cottage Grove with more to come statewide. After the physical rollout phase we plan to link these featured signs with a digital experience (now in the early development phase) that will enable visitors to maximize their enjoyment of our shared film history, locations, anecdotes, as well as local related events and promotions.  Trail waypoints, linked by physical signs, will create the basis for not only an interactive map but potentially an experience where real life and technology blend.

There’s still a lot more we would like to be doing – from increasing the capacity of all our programs to expanding our workforce development programs to include paid internships and formally structured apprenticeship placements.

We’d like to hear from you about other ideas. Please feel free to reach out.

Thank you.

Juliet Moran/Open Eye Art, setting up the art created by Oregon’s crew and production professionals – now hanging in Pioneer Courthouse Square.


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