Oregon Film – Who We Are, What We Do – January 2024 Update

As we head into a new year, it is a good time to reflect on our work and mandates and share what we’re up to here at Oregon Film. Do You Know What (Y)Our Film Office Does?

Who Are We? We are a small (4 people) semi-independent state agency. We work closely with other agencies such as:

  • Business Oregon
  • Travel Oregon
  • Department of Revenue
  • Oregon Parks & Recreation (Oregon State Parks)
  • Oregon Governor’s Office

We are overseen by a 5 member board of directors that is appointed by the Governor.

What Do We Do? Our primary goal is to oversee and support the economic development of the film and media industry in Oregon.

What Kinds Of Creative Work Does This Include?

  • Feature films
  • Television series
  • Animation projects
  • Commercial production
  • Interactive games and experiences.

We focus on projects originating from within the state as well as productions that are looking to bring their business into Oregon (from New York, London, or Los Angeles for example) by offering grants, training, paid placements, partnerships, and incentives.

Does Oregon Film Advertise To Promote Oregon?

Yes! Most recently we partnered with the Portland Events & Film Office to publish a seven-page “advertorial” article in the Oscars edition of Variety – look for it later this month.

Why Does The Website Have A New Look?

We’re simplifying! Oregon Film’s website now focuses on three pillars:

  • Celebrating Oregon’s creative talent
  • The incredible, wide variety of “looks”
  • A deep “knowledge base” of informative articles that supports anyone producing creative work in our state

What Are The Media Incentive Programs?

These funds also support smaller, more specific incentive programs such as:

The L-OPF and R-OPIF programs support locally produced, lower-budgeted projects that bring work to areas outside of the Portland Metro zone. Together these incentives total about $25M per year and allow us to work with 30 to 40 different projects annually.

What Is The Overall Benefit Of The Oregon Film Office And The Programs We Manage?

A recently commissioned report from EcoNorthwest sums this up:

“The growth of the film and video sector in Oregon has been nothing but explosive. In 2004, [EcoNW] wrote an economic impact report of Oregon’s film and video sector. [EcoNW] found that in 2002, the sector’s direct output was $177.7 million, and its total contribution was $357.1 million. Compare that to what [EcoNW] calculated in this report for FY2023—$1,249.9 million in direct and $2,041.9 million in total contributions. Therefore, in 20 years, the sector’s direct output rose 603 percent and its total contribution rose 472 percent. These are extraordinary increases. And they far outpaced the whole economy of Oregon, which grew about 158 percent over that time.”

2023 Was A Challenging Year – What Went Well?

As you already know our industry was severely impacted by two strikes in 2023. Both the writers (Writers Guild of America or WGA) and the actors (the Screen Actors Guild or SAG-AFTRA) voted to go on strike in the early summer of 2023 (in May for the WGA and in July for SAG-AFTRA). These strikes lasted through the autumn with the SAG-AFTRA strike not ending until November. This labor action greatly reduced the jobs, spending, and project recruitment efforts we were able to do as most studios and financing entities stopped production activity during this time.

During the strike, we supported the community by:

  • Holding an informal Town Hall with members of SAG-AFTRA, the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE), and the Directors Guild of America (DGA). This helped many community members ask questions, explore permissible projects (short films, commercials, video games) as well as connect with other members of the community who were affected by the strikes.
  • We worked with the City of Portland, and the Portland Events and Film Office, to create a fund that subsidizes permit fees for projects shooting within the City.
  • Where possible we increased contributions to community partnership programs through grants and collaboration with organizations like the OMPA, Women in Film Portland, Desert Island Studios, Outside the Frame, Southern Oregon University, and BendFilm.
  • We explored several other ideas that ultimately proved not to be possible such as speaking to local credit unions about creating a micro-loan program, engaging with the Governor’s office and and the Department of Employment on clarifying and expanding unemployment benefits, and trying to expedite “interim” production agreements for local independent films with SAG-AFTRA. 
  • As the strikes came to an end and the studios and unions were signaling they were getting close to a deal, we traveled to Los Angeles to ensure all of our studio and producing partners knew the advantages of bringing their next project to Oregon. This included 16 meetings at partner studios in three days and attending the American Film Market in Santa Monica. Many of the producers that had brought projects to Oregon in the past – this includes Netflix, Warner Bros., Amazon, NBC, and Fox Searchlight – were openly anxious to find ways to bring their next production to the state. 

Why Did Oregon Film Create The Oregon Film Trail?

Long before Expedia and other travel outlets announced that Film Tourism is the fastest-growing tourism trend, we recognized that Oregon has a lot to offer set-jetting visitors. Thanks to the creation of the Oregon Film Trail (OFT) our state is well-positioned to take advantage of economic gains from film tourism. This travel sector now outpaces social media platforms when it comes to influencing visitor travel – and consequently, it provides another strand of economic development for Oregon.

  • The Oregon Film Trail – the Nation’s first physical film trail –  covers the whole state and now has more than 40 signs discoverable in many communities. This includes Trail stops for films like, “Stand by Me” in Brownsville, “Paint Your Wagon” in Baker City, “City Girl” in Athena, “Twilight” in St. Helens, and, of course, “The Goonies” in Astoria among many others.
  • As per data from Future Market Insights, the global Film Tourism Sector was estimated at US$ 66.7 Billion in 2022 and is projected to reach US$128.78 Billion by 2032 – a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 6.82% from 2022 to 2032.
  • OFT is partnered with SetJetters – a global film tourism and economic development app. This partnership amplifies the OFT by allowing users to identify, locate, and navigate to film scene location sites around Oregon from all over the world. The platform also provides discoverability to services and local points of interest, and a place for local businesses to advertise.
  • A QR code at every Trail marker allows us to collect visitor numbers/data (non-personal data) as well as data from the SetJetters app itself.

What Is #OregonMade & How Does It Help Creative Opportunity?

With the launch of the Creative Opportunity Program (2022), we invested funding into grants, community programming, and partnership programs. These programs helped fund productions and place new trainees into the workforce. Many of these programs run through our affiliated non-profit the #OregonMade Creative Foundation in partnership and collaboration with organizations like Eastern Oregon Film Festival, Lane County Film Studios, and Desert Island Studios.

Training and education programs with the OMPA and Outside the Frame, help ensure that new and established workers are supported.

The Creative Opportunity Program supported 32 different programs with funding totaling almost $375,000. Projects like:

  • Outdoor Adventure Film Grant
  • Tell Your Story Grant
  • Pathways paid placement program

We regularly attend and support local festivals and events that help promote our state and our creative community including; BendFilm, McMinnville Short Film Festival, DisOrient, Klamath Independent Film Festival, Eastern Oregon Film Festival, Portland Film Festival, and two new festivals this year Gorge Impact in Hood River, and Wild Rivers in Brookings.

What Else Does Oregon Film Do?

In addition to all of the above, each month we field dozens of requests for location packages, crew referrals, and permit contacts, and we clarify the ways our various programs can help each project looking to work in Oregon.

Did you know that?

  • We are one of the few state film offices that regularly reviews, tags, and estimates production rebates while working within the industry standard budgeting software platforms like Movie Magic and Showbiz.
  • In any given month we review as many as 15 different budgets and field two or three times as many location requests.
  • We are one of just a handful of states that offer a simpler and more valuable production rebate instead of a state tax credit that needs to be sold by producers at a discount to people and companies with an in-state tax liability.
  • We market and manage the annual OPIF Tax Credit Auction that provides discounted tax credits to in-state purchasers and then provides the funding to the OPIF rebate program.

We believe in being responsive and clear with our clients, and ensuring that our local community is informed and engaged.

We pride ourselves on being knowledgeable, and approachable, and that carries through as a selling tool to the multitude of partners and projects we work with.

Putting it All Together

Stay connected through our various platforms;

We want to hear from you! Get in touch with us and let us know if there’s more we can be doing to help. 

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