02-19-2017  10:48 pm      •     

You might not know it, but Oregon has a long history with the film industry. Thousands of films have been produced in the state and state officials say they'd like to see that number increase.

With "Coraline" already in theatres, a new untitled Harrison Ford film in the making and the TNT-produced "Leverage" series soon to be in production, the Portland area continues to grow in its reputation as a film town – and an area where jobs in the film industry can be sustained.

According to the governor's office, their efforts to lure production companies to the state have paid off. The Oregon Production Investment Fund and Greenlight Oregon – which gave the state's film office resources – has been directly responsible for increasing movie making in the state. Since 2005, when Greenlight Oregon went into effect, productions have increased 117 percent.

"The general perception was that production companies only felt comfortable with one big show in the state at a time," said Vince Porter, director of the Governor's Office of Film and Television. "We disagree. It's about pooling resources and getting the message out to trained professionals."

One of the biggest concerns from production companies is finding qualified crew members. It's much cheaper to hire local crews – usually excluding top tier talent – although qualified movie production crews aren't as plentiful in the Northwest as they are in California, says Porter. Despite this, there are careers available – ranging from directors of photography to location security.

"It's hard work," Porter says. "It's not for everyone. A lot of times you're working 14 to 16 hour days."

Getting into the industry can also be difficult, although not impossible. Like most careers, it requires training and getting to know the right people.

Portland Community Media is one of Portland's oldest media training facilities that targets low-income and minority communities. Much of their training is specific to television and to educating technologically disadvantaged people, says director Sylvia McDaniel.

"Our organization is a little bit different because we don't target the film industry, per se," she told The Skanner.

They put a strong emphasis on getting people of color on television crews for the public access channels they control. All the while, it is a learning process for people who have not grown up in a house or attended a school with easy access to video production equipment.

When it comes to recruiting more minorities in the film business, McDaniel says they need to be targeted.

"You have to be purposeful in your outreach," she says. "A lot of industries haven't been open to people of color in the past. The film industry is as closed as any."

Kristin Konsterlie, education outreach director for the Northwest Film School, says they have many programs that target low-income and minority students, although she admits it is "uncommon for those students to actually go into the field."

"We'd love to see that change, it's not a question of that at all," she said.

She says scholarships and class space is available. Last year's Media Arts Academy for Teens had no more than five applicants, despite being a creditable class that teaches students just about every role in a film shoot.

Ellen Thomas, the film school's education director, says they encourage diversity in an industry that is largely dominated by White males.

"One of our goals as an arts organization is to create as many voices as possible in the media stream," Thomas said.

Porter, who was vice president of production for Showtime Networks before joining the state office, says diversity in the entertainment industry is increasing.

"Originally, we had specific requirements and interest in making sure minorities were given opportunities," he said. "Eventually, it became less of an issue. In my last three years at Showtime, we hired two or three times as many African American directors as in the past."

Some were hired to work on African American-specific projects such as "Soul Food." Once their skill as a director was noted, many went on to direct a variety of mainstream projects. One such director, Ernest Dickerson, who began his career as a director and cinematographer on such films as "Krush Groove," "Eddie Murphy Raw" and "Juice," is now directing episodes of "Dexter," "The L Word" "The Wire" and "Weeds."

Konsterlie says the film jobs are out there. It just takes training, passion and commitment.

"You don't necessarily have to know somebody," she said. "You have to sharpen your elbows and cut your teeth. It's something you have to work towards."



New Film Projects in Oregon

"Coraline"

This stop-motion film, directed by Henry Selick ("Nightmare Before Christmas") and based on a book by Neil Gaiman, was the first ever to be shot in stereoscopic 3-D. Produced by Phil Knight's Laika, "Coraline" tells the story of a young girl who discovers a portal to an alternate reality of her own life. In theaters now.

"Leverage"

This TNT series is about a crack team of thieves, con artists and hired muscle who use their skills to take revenge on the rich and powerful. The series will begin filming new episodes in Portland in spring and is scheduled to broadcast this summer.


LINKS:

www.oregonfilm.org

www.nwfilm.org

www.pcmtv.org
New Film Projects in Oregon"Coraline"This stop-motion film, directed by Henry Selick ("Nightmare Before Christmas") and based on a book by Neil Gaiman, was the first ever to be shot in stereoscopic 3-D. Produced by Phil Knight's Laika, "Coraline" tells the story of a young girl who discovers a portal to an alternate reality of her own life. In theaters now."Leverage"This TNT series is about a crack team of thieves, con artists and hired muscle who use their skills to take revenge on the rich and powerful. The series will begin filming new episodes in Portland in spring and is scheduled to broadcast this summer.

 

New Film Projects in Oregon

"Coraline"This stop-motion film, directed by Henry Selick ("Nightmare Before Christmas") and based on a book by Neil Gaiman, was the first ever to be shot in stereoscopic 3-D. Produced by Phil Knight's Laika, "Coraline" tells the story of a young girl who discovers a portal to an alternate reality of her own life. In theaters now."Leverage"This TNT series is about a crack team of thieves, con artists and hired muscle who use their skills to take revenge on the rich and powerful. The series will begin filming new episodes in Portland in spring and is scheduled to broadcast this summer.  

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