This past weekend in City Hall, the television show Portlandia finished filming its second season. That wrapped what will go down in history as the busiest filming season ever in our city.
(Clockwise from left): Mayor Sam Adams, Portlandia Mayor Kyle MacLachlan, Portlandia actors/writers Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen
During the past four months, it has become somewhat commonplace to come across a team shooting a movie, TV show or a commercial. Local film industry crews have kept busy on large projects (three TV series, a Hollywood feature film, three car commercials) as well as smaller ones, such as several independent feature films, and commercial and photography work for local businesses such as Nike, Adidas and Pendleton Woolen Mills.
This spring we welcomed TNT’s hit show Leverage back to town for filming of its 4th season. As mentioned, IFC’s Portlandia also returned for a 2nd season of uniquely Portland-inspired sketch comedy, which will begin airing in January. In addition, 2011 brought a new series to Portland. Grimm, a crime drama with a supernatural twist, is currently filming its first season and will be premiering on NBC in mid-October. Lakeshore Entertainment’s feature film, Gone, starring Amanda Seyfried, also filmed in many locations around the central city this spring and is set for release in February.
When the film industry in Portland is busy, Portland is busy. Thanks to the Governor’s Office of Film & Television’s remarkable job making sure that Oregon is a desirable place to shoot, our state’s reputation as a film-friendly region is growing. The Portland Film Office represents the first point of connection between filmmakers and the City, providing assistance with permits, procedures and information about popular filming locations. Point people in City bureaus provide timely assistance. The office fields filming-related questions from productions big and small. Whether providing resources to a Hollywood feature film or a local production company, the Portland Film Office is the City’s industry resource.
Besides the fact that it’s pretty cool to see our streetscapes on the big screen, there’s another reason why we have a substantial interest in the film and video industry: jobs.
The film industry is an important economic driver. Since 2007 through December 1, 2010, the direct and indirect impact on Oregon’s economy by state-allied film and television projects was nearly $350 million. By the end of 2011, this impact is projected to be almost $542 million. Meanwhile, in 2009 alone, the Portland metropolitan region saw $52 million in direct spending through supported local film productions, providing hundreds of jobs and yielding a total economic impact of $102 million.
Let’s look at individual productions. Leverage puts over 450 locals on payroll each season and over 90% of the Portlandia crew consists of local hires. We will not see data on Grimm until 2012, but according to Vince Porter in the state film office, the numbers are expected to be even greater than those of Leverage. Feature film Gone employed 210 locals for over 70,000 hours of work and millions of dollars were spent in local businesses on things such as security, hardware, restaurants and hotels. Plus, the influx of filming helps grow local talent.
While it may be frustrating that a favorite street is closed for a shoot or you might be startled by a staged explosion, we hope you understand the important role these businesses play in our city and forgive these small inconveniences. I want to thank you for your understanding.
The Portland Film Office strives to maintain good relationships between industry professionals and the citizens who generously share their neighborhoods with crews filming on-location. Oftentimes the crews are made up of Portlanders hired for the project. The permit process mandates that film crews distribute written notification of their intent to film to residents and business owners in advance of the planned shoot, giving citizens the opportunity to communicate with productions about activities happening in their neighborhood. The Portland Film Office also works with neighborhood and business associations to further facilitate communication when larger shoots seek city permits for filming.
The fact that I’m now most frequently stopped in airports around the world and asked if “I’m that guy on Portlandia” instead of mayor of the best city in America, underscores the amazing power the film industry can have on our international visibility. These limelight moments show that this is a great place to visit, live, work and start a business–even if Grimm makes it seem like there are monsters in Forest Park.
Mayor of Portland
Mayor of Portland