Porter in Bloomberg BusinessWeek: “We’ve Focused On Projects That Make The Most Sense To Film Here”

The growth of Oregon’s film and TV industry is continuing to gain national attention.

An article in last week’s Bloomberg Businessweek focuses on what reporter Claire Suddath calls the “Portlandia Bump” and highlights the role shot-in-Portland shows such as Portlandia, Grimm and Leverage have played in the industry’s phenomenal growth.

Suddath interviewed Governor’s Office of Film and Television Executive Director Vince Porter for the article and got his take on growth of film and TV production in the state (and in Portland:)

What’s with all the TV shows set in Portland these days?

We’ve just been really lucky. Usually, if you have three TV series going on at the same time, you can expect to have one of them get canceled. But with these shows, not only are they not getting canceled, they’re all talking about filming more episodes over multiple years. Last year was the first time that we had Leverage, Grimm, and Portlandia all at once. We didn’t think it would happen again, but it did. And this summer, their film schedules are shooting simultaneously. (Read the entire article…)

Portland’s KGW TV also ran a story this week on the industry’s growth.  As business reporter Joe Smith points out in his story, “this is a summer of television repeats – as in repeat business for Portland’s film and TV community.”

Smith’s KGW report puts an emphasis on the role the Oregon’s film incentive programs  play in luring shows like Grimm and Portlandia to the state.  A closer look at the Bloomberg story from last week, however, finds that Oregon’s film incentives actually offer less to producers than other state programs.

What happened? Did you increase your tax incentives or something?

We did, but that was back in 2005. We offer a 20 percent rebate on Oregon-based goods and services and a 16 percent credit on labor expenses, but that’s actually pretty modest when you compare it to programs offered by states like Louisiana and Georgia [which offer a tax credit of up to 30 percent]. I think it’s that we’ve focused our competition on specific types of projects that make the most sense to film here.

What would those be?

Two types: television series and animation. Our incentive program makes it difficult to go after the big blockbuster films like The Avengers that are going to spend a lot of money. Most feature film production takes three to four months to produce, then everyone goes on to the next project, which means they can look at a lot of different places and go with the biggest tax break. But on TV series, the cast and production crew have to commit to being in a place for four to five years. They actually have to live somewhere. Our close proximity to Los Angeles makes traveling for post-production [often done in LA] easy. And by and large, most people are O.K. with the idea of living in Portland for a few years.

We also have more animation here than you would think. It’s been a strong center of talent and a lot of that has to do with Laika, the animation studio that produced the film Coraline. Their next film ParaNorman comes out in August and was also done here.  They’re already on to their third film that has not been named yet. (Read the entire article…)

While we appreciate the strategy OregonFilm has employed to focus on “specific types of projects,” Porter’s statements point out an issue which may inhibit further growth in the state’s film and TV industry.

Because Oregon’s program is smaller than competing states’ film incentive plans, the chances of luring a “big blockbuster films like The Avengers” (or another film on the scale of 2008′s Twilight) to Oregon are slim – which means the state will miss out  on the jobs and spending associated with such large productions.  We hope that candidates for Oregon’s legislature will bear this in mind when voters ask them about their support increasing funding for Oregon’s film incentive programs.

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About Haroldphillips

Harold Phillips has worked professionally in theatre, film and television for over 20 years. In that time, he's built a reputation for his commitment to the characters he plays and his efforts to strengthen the film and theatre industries in the cities he's worked in. Harold has gained prominence in the quickly growing world of digital media, with appearances in the wildly popular web series Lady Wasteland, Animus Cross, and the interactive movie The Outbreak. In addition to appearances in commercials and independent films (including the comedic Crackin' The Code and thrillers Sum Of The Parts and Dark Horizon), Harold has spent many years working on stage in the Pacific Northwest. To learn more about Harold, please visit his web site at http://www.haroldphillips.net or follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/haroldPDX
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