Friday, July 21, 2006

Oregon Goes Hollywood

If, like me, you felt compelled to see Are We There Yet--despite the fact that it looked like a crappy movie--because you saw shots of Portland and Oregon in the trailer, get ready for film voyeur heaven! Not one, not two but three major motion pictures are either filming or getting ready to film principally in Oregon.

That doesn't happen by accident, either, although it helps that filming costs--particularly things like union wage scales for crew--are becoming more and more ornerous in California. Like any other industry, the film business has to be wooed. They have to be made aware of what your area has to offer in the way of beautiful location sites and competent production crews. And like any other industry, sadly but truthfully you also have to grease the wheels with a little cash--thus the Oregon Production Investment Fund. If a film company contracts with the Oregon Film and Video Office to produce the film in accordance with their rules, and spends at least $1mil in state to do it, the fund will rebate 10% of those costs, up to $250,000.

It appears to be working out well for everyone--the filmmakers may share rebates totalling 3/4 of a million dollars, and the state stands to gain an estimated $26 million in spending by the film companies. So sayeth Governor Ted Kulongoski, who continues his quest to finally explain to everyone what he's been doing the last couple years:
“Oregon has worked aggressively to attract film production to Oregon through the provision of financial incentives and labor rebates,” said Governor Ted Kulongoski. “We think that our scenery is unique and the pool of talent for production is top notch. Oregon is open for the film business.”

The three films are expected to have an overall economic impact of $26 million in the state and each chose Oregon due in large measure to Oregon’s recently enacted incentive programs.


In 2003, Governor Kulongoski and Oregon legislators created the Oregon Production Investment Fund, which offers an incentive to qualified productions. Governor Kulongoski also traveled to Hollywood to meet with studio executives and talk about other ideas to increase production in Oregon. Greenlight Oregon was formed at those meetings, which help make Oregon a serious player for major film and television productions – productions with the potential to create jobs throughout the Oregon economy and generate millions of dollars in economic activity.
Two of the films are already underway, and one will start shooting in the fall. And you think Ice Cube is a big star; how do Sean Penn and Morgan Freeman butter your popcorn?
“INTO THE WILD”, directed by Sean Penn (“All the King’s Men”, “Mystic River”, “I Am Sam”) has just begun filming at the Oregon coast, and will also film in the Cascade Mountain Range and several other Oregon locations this summer and in early fall. The film stars Emile Hirsch, (“Lords of Dogtown”, “Imaginary Heroes”), Catherine Keener (“Friends with Money”, “Capote”) and Vince Vaughn (“The Breakup”, “Wedding Crashers”). “Into The Wild” is based on the bestseller by Jon Krakauer and is the story of Christopher McCandless who abandons life as most of us know it for the Alaskan wilderness.

The second film, entitled “FEAST OF LOVE”, has opened its production office in Portland and is being produced by Lakeshore Entertainment. Principal photography will take place from early-August through late-September. The film, directed by Robert Benton (“Places in the Heart”, “Kramer vs. Kramer”), stars Morgan Freeman (“Lucky Number Slevin”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Shawshank Redemption”) and Greg Kinnear (“Little Miss Sunshine”, “The Matador”, “As Good As It Gets”). “Feast of Love” is described as a meditation on love and its various incarnations, set within a community of friends in Oregon.

Filming is also currently underway in southern Oregon for a third film titled MY NAME IS BRUCE. The production is employing approximately 150 local cast and crew and will wrap filming in mid-August. In this feature, Bruce Campbell (“The Woods”, “The Evil Dead”, “Bubba Ho-tep”), is mistaken for his character Ash from the Evil Dead trilogy and forced to fight a real monster in a small town in Oregon.
Are we cool yet?