We’ve done a fair bit of reporting about Portland’s rising status in the national consciousness (a phenomenon the Oregonian’s Kristi Turnquist once referred to as “Portland’s Cool Moment.”) Portland-set shows such as Grimm, Portlandia, ( and the soon-to-be-Portland-set Leverage) have certainly helped to boost the city’s profile, as is indicated by a recent story in the Dallas Morning News.
It’s no surprise, then, that more TV shows and movies want to jump on the Portland bandwagon. The latest to announce a Portland setting is the new TNT show Monday Mornings, based on a book by CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. As Turnquist’s article on OregonLive yesterday indicates, however, Monday Mornings may be set in Portland… but it will be shot in Los Angeles.
This isn’t the first time a television show set in Portland has been shot elsewhere, of course. In recent years the CW’s Life Unexpected and the NBC series Perfect Couples and Free Agents have all had Portland settings while they were shot elsewhere. Since those shows aired, though, Grimm, Portlandia and Leverage (as well as feature films such as Gone) have done a lot to distinguish Portland as a location where quality entertainment is made as well as set. Why, then, did David E. Kelley and TNT decide to shoot their new Portland-set drama in Los Angeles instead of bringing the jobs and income that show would provide to the city Monday Mornings is set in?
The answer, as you might expect, comes down to dollars and cents. According to sources in the Governor’s Office of Film and Television, the producers of Monday Mornings did enquire about shooting the show’s pilot in Portland – but those discussions ended when they learned that all the money in the Oregon Production Investment Fund (Oregon’s film incentive program) was spoken for by the three aforementioned shows.
Situations like this one are presenting themselves more and more often as Portland’s profile as a production center continues to rise. Because the OPIF is capped at $6 million, there’s nothing left to attract new projects and additional production jobs to Oregon. As Leverage Executive Producer Dean Devlin mentioned in a Hollywood Reporter article last October this lack of funding kept another TNT show, the alien invasion series Falling Skies, from relocating to the Portland area as well.
The only bad news these days is that a tough economy forced Gov. John Kitzhaber, who wanted to increase the total incentives available from $15 million to $40 million every two years, to trim them to $12 million, or $6 million a year.
“I was depressed they didn’t raise the cap,” admits Devlin. “Falling Skies considered coming up, but there was no room for new shows under the cap. Why not get production to $1 billion? Portland is a two-hour flight from L.A., it has wonderful talent, and it hasn’t been shot to death. I’m all in favor of it becoming a serious player in the industry.” (Read the entire article…)
We hope the candidates running for the 2013 Oregon Legislature will remember Kelley and TNT’s decision not to shoot Monday Mornings and Falling Skies in Portland as they run for their seats in the House and Senate – and that they put raising the cap on Oregon’s film incentive program on their list of priorities so the state won’t continue to lose the employment and income projects such as these offer.