Talking To Your Legislator

Oregon’s film incentive programs, the Oregon Production Investment Fund (OPIF), Greenlight Oregon, and the “Indigenous” Oregon Production Investment Program (i-OPIF) are instumental in drawing big-budget productions like Grimm, Leverage and Portlandia to our state, and supporting in-state film and TV production created by domestic producers.  These productions provide thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue to the state – but keeping these programs in place depends on you talking to your legislators and assuring their support of the programs’ continued operation.

  • As a resident of Oregon, you have one State Senator and one State Representative.  If you don’t already know who your Senator or Representative is, click here and enter your address to find out who he or she is.

Money is always tight in the state budget, but it’s especially tight right now!  If we want to keep these programs alive – and keep growing Oregon’s film and TV industry - every one of us has to get involved by talking to our legislators and making them understand the part this vital industry plays in Oregon’s economy.

The First Step is introducing yourself to your legislators.  Remember, your legislators’ job is to make their constituents (that’s you!) happy – that’s how they get re-elected.  Once you’ve found out who your legislators are, pick up the phone or send them an email.

Don’t be afraid or intimidated about talking to your legislators!  Remember, these aren’t big, powerful “fat cats” in suits working at the capitol in Salem - they’re people like you and me, doing a job.  That job just happens to be representing you and your interests before the state House or Senate.  Chances are your legislators are just “an average Joes or Janes” – someone you might chat with at your local coffee shop or tavern (in fact, once you learn who your legislators are, keep your eyes open at that local coffee shop or tavern – you may just meet them there!)

Be prepared to educate your legislators – no one knows everything about everything, after all… and your legislators have to stay on top of a lot of topics while working to keep the state running.  Aside from that, many of the people working in the capitol simply don’t know a lot about Oregon’s film and TV industry – this is your chance to “pull back the curtain” and de-mystify the industry; it’s a chance to let the know that film and TV production is an industry just like the timber, high-tech, or any other industry in the state.

When you communicate with your legislators, be sure to be respectful and not confrontational (“you get more flies with honey,” after all…) Most importantly, be ready to be brief – whether you’re writing to your legislators, talking to them on the phone or meeting them in person.  They’ve got a lot on their daily schedules, so you’ll need to be able to make your point quickly and provide supporting information - and then be ready to answer a few questions afterward (that’s where the “education” we just talked about comes in!)

When meeting your legislators in person, remember to make yourself memorable!  Dress appropriately for the situation, butg ive your legislator a visual “tag” to remember you by when you wear Oregon Film and TV Dollars gear to your meeting; every time s/he sees a bumper sticker, T-Shirt, or sign in his or her district s/he’ll remember your meeting!

Check the second page of this document produced by the OMPA for further tips on lobbying your legislators effectively!

The Oregon legislature also put together this handy video on how to talk to your legislators… take a look for some tips from the people you may very well be meeting with!

When you contact your legislators, tell them you know how important it is – especially given Oregon’s current budget woes -  to grow jobs and economic activity while supporting a fiscally responsible state budget… and then let them know exactly how our state’s film and TV industry does that.

Wondering what to say to help make your case?  Try using some of the points contained on the OMPA’s “Shutter-Ready Jobs” Fact Sheet (PDF) and OPIF/ Greenlight Labor Fact Sheet (PDF).  Some other items to note:

  • Since OPIF and Greenlight Labor’s inception, spending rose 8.7% in film and television production - an industry that accounts for $709 million in direct spending in Oregon, and $1.39 billion of combined direct and indirect economic impact.
  • Oregon’s film and TV industry has generated $130 million in 2011 alone – which means jobs, infrastructure investment and cash flow to not just actors, writers, directors, camera people, animators, and technicians, but “main-street businesses” such as hotels, leasing agents, banks and hardware stores as well!
  • Oregon’s film incentive plans are “revenue positive,” which means that the economic activity generated OPIF-supported projects is greater that the amount the state spends on these plans.  This is why the OPIF and Greenlight Labor were among only a hand-full of incentive programs increased during the 2009 legislative session.

There’s good, hard data in the items above, but one very important thing is missing – your personal story.  As we just mentioned, your legislators are in the business of serving the people who live in their district – and as such, they’re less interested in dry facts and figures than they are in how Oregon’s film incentive programs help the people living and working in their districts.  Tell your legislators exactly how Oregon’s film and TV industry has impacted your life, your business, and/ or your family’s economic well being!

Need some help figuring out what makes a compelling story for your legislator?  Use this guide the OMPA put together to help craft a story they’ll remember!

After your initial contact with your legislator, stay in touch with him or her! Add his or her email address to your mailing list; pick up the phone or email them regularly to discuss not only Oregon’s film incentives, but other issues affecting the state as well.  Visit your Representative and Senator in Salem (be sure to make an appointment first!)  Stay involved in the process! By keeping your face and name in front of your legislators – and their staff – you keep the Oregon film and TV industry front-and-center in their minds… and they’ll be much more likely to support the industry if they remember that someone in their district is a supporter as well.

Good luck!  Let us know how it goes!

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