Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival Kicks Off Friday!

nw filmmakers

The Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival (formerly the Northwest Film & Video Festival) kicks off this Friday, November 7, and runs through the 15th.

NWFest41 will feature 45+ short and feature films from filmmakers across the Northwest, selected by guest festival judge Christopher Rauschenberg, much lauded photographer and co-founder of Portland’s trailblazing Blue Sky Gallery.  Festival film highlights include Vera Brenner-Sung’s “meditation on displacement and adaptation in the contemporary American West,” Bella Vista; John Gussman and Jessica Plumb’s ecologically-minded documentary Return of the River, concerning water and tribal rights on the Elwha River; Beth Harrington’s The Winding Stream, an examination of the enduring impact of the original Carter Family on the musical landscape; and Sue Arbuthnot and Richard Wilhelm’s family farming doc, Dryland.

In addition to features, the festival offers three programs of short films. Shorts I — a collection of films from makers based in Portland & Eugene, OR, Seattle & Edmonds, WA, Belgrade & Livingston, MT, and Vancouver, BC—will kick off the festival on Opening Night at 7 p.m. with filmmakers in attendance. Shorts II and Shorts III are collections of films by makers throughout the NW region, ranging from the experimental to animation to narrative and non-fiction. All three shorts programs will screen twice during the festival.

Beyond the numerous screenings on offer, NWFest41 also provides opportunities for aspiring and working filmmakers to interact directly with peers and industry professionals through events such as the Northwest Filmmakers’ Un-Conference, previously BarCamp, an opportunity for the regional filmmaking community to gather together and explore the issues and challenges facing today’s independent filmmaker.

Additionally, NWFest41 will cater to makers via two participatory workshops.  On Sunday, November 9, Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning director Irene Taylor Brodsky (Hear and Now) will lead an intensive on “Developing the Doc-Maker’s Ear for Story,” which will be followed immediately by a screening of her film One Last Hug (…and a Few Smooches): Three Days at Grief Camp. Saturday, November 15, musician/composer Mark Orton (Nebraska, Boxtrolls) will enlighten in a workshop entitled “Inside the World of Film Composing.”

For more information, including film descriptions, ticketing links, and more, click here.

Florian Perinelle works with the Lord Portley-Rind puppet.  Credit:  John Leonhardt / LAIKA, Inc.

Behind the Scenes with LAIKA

Oregon animation production studio takes us inside the making of The Boxtrolls

Michael Hollenbeck works on one of the Red Hat puppets during production of LAIKA and Focus Features' family event movie The Boxtrolls. Credit:  John Leonhardt / LAIKA, Inc.

Michael Hollenbeck works on one of the Red Hat puppets during production of LAIKA and Focus Features’ family event movie The Boxtrolls. Credit: John Leonhardt / LAIKA, Inc.

Released on September 26, The Boxtrolls is the latest animated masterpiece from Hillsboro, Oregon-based LAIKA. Shot on-site in 3D, The Boxtrolls is a stop-motion, hand-drawn, and CG hybrid movie based on Alan Snow’s bestselling fantasy adventure book Here Be Monsters.

The film is several years in the making, including three years from pre-production to release. Part of the reason for this is the meticulous process of stop-motion animation.

Single frame by single frame (and there are 24 frames per second in a motion picture), animators subtly and painstakingly manipulate tangible objects (characters, props, sets, etc.) on a working stage. Each frame is photographed for the motion picture camera—twice, if the camera is a 3D one, as on The Boxtrolls. When the thousands of photographed frames are edited and projected together sequentially, the characters and environment come alive.

With 79 sets and over 20,000 handmade props, The Boxtrolls is the biggest production ever to be made in stop-motion animation, and is only the fourth stop-motion movie to be made in stereoscopic 3D following LAIKA’s own Coraline (2009) and ParaNorman (2012) as well as Aardman’s The Pirates! (2012).

Here, LAIKA takes us behind the scenes of The Boxtrolls

Florian Perinelle works with the Lord Portley-Rind puppet.  Credit:  John Leonhardt / LAIKA, Inc.

Florian Perinelle works with the Lord Portley-Rind puppet. Credit: John Leonhardt / LAIKA, Inc.

Creative Supervisor of Puppet Fabrication Georgina Haynes explains the background on one of the puppets to voice talent Isaac Hempstead-Wright while Director of Rapid Prototype Brian McLean listens in. Credit:  LAIKA, Inc.

Creative Supervisor of Puppet Fabrication Georgina Haynes explains the background on one of the puppets to voice talent Isaac Hempstead-Wright while Director of Rapid Prototype Brian McLean listens in. Credit: LAIKA, Inc.

A painter adds some green paint to carrot stocks. Credit:  John Leonhardt / LAIKA, Inc.

A painter adds some green paint to carrot stocks. Credit: John Leonhardt / LAIKA, Inc.

Director of Photography John Ashlee Prat adjusts a backlight reflection. Credit:  Jason Ptaszek / LAIKA, Inc.

Director of Photography John Ashlee Prat adjusts a backlight reflection. Credit: Jason Ptaszek / LAIKA, Inc.

Danail Kraev works on the Eggs puppet. Credit:  John Leonhardt / LAIKA, Inc.

Danail Kraev works on the Eggs puppet. Credit: John Leonhardt / LAIKA, Inc.

David Pugh works on the extensive Market scene. Credit:  Eric Adkins / LAIKA, Inc.

David Pugh works on the extensive Market scene. Credit: Eric Adkins / LAIKA, Inc.

Caitlin Pashalek works on the floors in Lord Portley-Rind’s house. Credit:  John Leonhardt / LAIKA, Inc.

Caitlin Pashalek works on the floors in Lord Portley-Rind’s house. Credit: John Leonhardt / LAIKA, Inc.

Voice talent Isaac Hempstead-Wright visits with LAIKA CEO and Lead Animator Travis Knight. Credit:  LAIKA, Inc.

Voice talent Isaac Hempstead-Wright visits with LAIKA CEO and Lead Animator Travis Knight. Credit: LAIKA, Inc.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee poses with zombie extras on the set of Z Nation during a recent visit to Spokane.

Effort Underway to Raise Washington Film Incentive Cap

Washington Governor Jay Inslee poses with zombie extras on the set of Z Nation during a recent visit to Spokane.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee poses with zombie extras on the set of Z Nation during a recent visit to Spokane.

By George Riddell Editor

Currently, the state of Washington is one of 38 states offering film production incentives. Qualifying feature films, episodic TV series and commercials can receive rebates of as much as 35 percent of their in-state expenditures. However, with an annual cap of just $3.5 million, Washington’s incentive is one of the smallest in the country, and can’t realistically compete against states with much larger caps (or no cap in many states).

This year in late April, before the popular summer shooting season even began, Washington Filmworks, which oversees the state’s film production incentive program, announced that after just four months, the state’s entire allotment of funds available as production incentives for feature films and TV series had been exhausted. The cap had been met.

Washington Filmworks reached the cap for the most part because of two major summer production projects: Z Nation, a 13-episode TV series for Syfy network shot this summer in Eastern Washington, and Captain Fantastic, a feature film shot this summer in Western Washington, starring Viggo Mortenson.

Over the next several weeks, Amy Lillard, executive director of Washington Filmworks, watched in frustration as multiple projects that she had been courting to shoot in Washington chose locations in other states, where production incentive money was available.

“After we announced we were out of funds, Washington Filmworks continued to receive calls daily from greenlit projects that were ready to hit the ground running in Washington State,” she said. Lillard estimated that “these projects would have had an estimated $55 million of economic impact over the summer months.” The impact is felt in the form of jobs for local actors, film crewmembers, hotel rooms, catering companies, restaurants, rental companies and many other businesses that support the film industry, both directly and indirectly. And she said there has likely been more business lost, as well.

Z Nation and Captain Fantastic provide strong examples of the benefits these productions can provide to the Washington film industry and the state’s general economy. These two projects alone employed hundreds of workers this summer. Filmworks estimates that Z Nation provided more than 12,000 worker days to Washington cast and crew during its summer shooting schedule, while Captain Fantastic was expected to employ more than 350 Washington residents.

But Lillard sees the potential for much more: “We need to grow the incentive program to keep up with demand.”

The demand to shoot in Washington is clearly plentiful among filmmakers, but the competition among states that offer cash-back incentives to producers is very high. Lillard knows the key to being more competitive is raising the state’s cap. So, while the legislation that created the current incentive program is scheduled to remain in place until 2017, Washington Filmworks is acting now to start the wheels of change moving towards increasing the state’s cap before the current sunset period.

Their first order of business was to form an Advocacy Committee, headed by James Keblas, former director of the Seattle Office of Film + Music and now president of Seattle advertising agency Creature, and entertainment attorney and longtime Northwest film advocate Lance Rosen. Rosen and Keblas will work with Lillard to connect with legislators across the state, and work towards a new solution that will make Washington more competitive in the film incentive marketplace.

Douglas Horn and James Keblas celebrate as they make the first contributions to WAfilmPAC.

Douglas Horn and James Keblas celebrate as they make the first contributions to WAfilmPAC.

In addition to Washington Filmworks’ efforts, the local film community is stepping up to the plate. What started as a Facebook group called the Seattle Film Industry Caucus is now a group of concerned film professionals that have met numerous times in person, including once with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

Writer/director Douglas Horn, one member of the Caucus, said the group is committed to engaging elected officials with Washington Filmworks in an effort to develop legislation that supports a more competitive incentive program. They have identified potential tools that can help with this effort, as well.

One such tool is the resurrection of the previously dormant political action committee formerly known as Film PAC. Formed in 2010, Film PAC was created during the last round of legislative action by Seattle film industry member and activist Ron Leamon. Today, Leamon is joined by others in the state’s film community in relaunching the organization as WAfilmPAC.  Current leadership of WAfilmPAC consists of chairman Leamon, vice chair Lacey Leavitt, treasurer Joanne Ort and secretary Krk Nordenstrom.

Leavitt said WAfilmPAC’s immediate priority is clear.

“The film incentive cap needs to be raised,” she said. “Our industry has been so successful at cultivating and drawing production work that we became victims of our own success this year, running out of incentive funds not even halfway through the year.”

(l to r) Spokane filmmaker Mischa Jakupcak, Z Nation star Pisay Pao, Seattle producer Lacey Leavitt, plus unidentified zombies celebrate the re-launch of WAfilmPAC.

(l to r) Spokane filmmaker Mischa Jakupcak, Z Nation star Pisay Pao, Seattle producer Lacey Leavitt, plus unidentified zombies celebrate the re-launch of WAfilmPAC.

Leavitt added that the demands to shoot film projects in Washington State have increased over the past several years. “What we’ve been able to accomplish with the fifth-smallest fund in the nation is impressive but we can and should build on the amount of dollars spent on Washington State labor, small businesses and local vendors.”

The organization’s stated goals are based around the common objectives of helping elect state legislative candidates who are likely to support the film industry. Like any political action committee, WAfilmPAC exists to help raise money from supporters of its political agenda, in order to pass those funds along to support the campaigns of candidates who also support that agenda. But Leamon believes there is more to it than that.

“Our agenda is not only increasing the incentive, but increasing awareness of who we are as an industry,” he said. “I believe they go hand in hand. This has been the ongoing education of our communities of legislative, film, and non-film.”

Leavitt and Leamon are big believers in the general economic benefits the state would realize from an increase to the state’s incentive cap.

“A local economy that experiences a film, television or commercial project in their area will feel a positive financial impact and, depending on the project, a boost in tourism,” said Leamon. “By supporting these legislators that believe in our industry, we support the economic future of Washington State.”

Leamon sees the value of WAfilmPAC in communicating these benefits. “It’s an important tool to talk with candidates about industry issues,” he said. “WAfilmPAC also hopes to engage filmmakers, film crew and talent in Washington State to be active and effective participants in government affairs.”

The alternative to increasing Washington’s film incentive cap is to continue with the status quo until it reaches the legislation’s sunset in 2017. But the cost could be high for Washington’s film industry.

“One of the great success stories of the incentive program is our investment in our local storytellers like Lynn Shelton, Lacey Leavitt and Megan Griffiths,” said Lillard. But, she continued, “as their success has increased, so have budgets for their projects. With only $3.5 million in our fund annually, our homegrown talent is being forced to take their projects to states with more competitive incentives.”

Robust film production in Washington would reap widespread benefits for the state’s general economy, and allow the growth and development of the region’s fertile creative talent pool for years to come. Lillard is determined.

“The production incentive program remains the most powerful tool that we have to win motion picture business,” she said. “There is great interest to produce films, commercials and episodic series in Washington State, but not the business model to support it.”

A series of WAfilmPAC fundraising events is being scheduled throughout the state in the weeks ahead, and will continue beyond. For up to date information about these events and more, visit www.WAfilmPAC.org and follow @wafilmpac on Twitter.

Corinne Foster puts the finishing touches on actor Derrick Walton-Cooper.

Bringing the Undead to Life: The Magic’s in the Makeup Team

Makeup artist Corinne Foster and actor David Schaefer.

Makeup artist Corinne Foster and actor David Schaefer.

By Stephanie Hoover & Crystal Foley Guest Columnists

Blood, gore and guts—all the stuff we love about zombie flicks—wouldn’t be possible without a great makeup team.

However, with the exploding popularity of zombie shows, it takes more than greatness for a series to stand out. It takes a unique spin on the oft-created apocalypse, which is exactly what Syfy’s newest show, Z Nation, aims to do. Corinne Foster, the makeup department head, said finding the originality in her interpretation of zombie makeup is her favorite part.

“I love the creativity of it, and the chance to just do something [the way] you think it should be, rather than what other people think it should be,” said Foster. “Creating zombies gives you the chance to create the unknown, so nothing you do is wrong and it doesn’t matter, ultimately, as long as it looks really cool.”

Zombified actors (l to r) David Schaefer, Brian McElroy, Nicole Suba, Caleb Miller and Benjamin Ginsborough-Hron.

Zombified actors (l to r) David Schaefer, Brian McElroy, Nicole Suba, Caleb Miller and Benjamin Ginsborough-Hron.

Z Nation takes us three years into the apocalypse with a cast of survivors on a mission. As the survivors in the series travel across the country, we meet a variety of zombies along the way—including nuclear zombies, toxic zombies, oil zombies, and dust cloud zombies.

As opposed to many other zombie series and films, many of the ‘Zs’, as zombies are dubbed in Z Nation, are characterized. Because the show takes place a few years into the apocalypse, several current zombies have been surviving for a while before being infected; therefore many of them have background stories and connections with the present survivors. Foster said she and her team have enjoyed the variety and challenge of emulating the characters in the zombie makeup.

David Schaefer

David Schaefer

“Because we’re playing with the idea that their speed is varied based on how long they’ve been decaying, it makes it a lot funner [sic] in the fact that every zombie kind of has its own style of movement and personality from each episode,” she said.

It’s not enough to just think up an awesome looking zombie; Foster must also think about how that zombie will appear after it goes through post-production. She says she did about 10 makeup tests in order to make the zombies look realistic once filters were applied.

“We had to find the right color palette that translated through the color treatment to get that look of what we were going for,” she said. “In person they’re really green.”

Foster, who heads Synapse FX in Los Angeles, is no stranger to zombie makeup. She has worked on two other zombie specials for Syfy, Zombie Night and Rise of the Zombies. However, the team has run into a few issues with their preferred water-based makeup, Kryolan Aquacolor, while on set in Spokane, Washington. Retouching has been a constant, said Foster, because the makeup isn’t staying on as effectively. She speculates this may be due to the hard water in Spokane or possibly the difference in altitude and elements.

Corinne Foster puts the finishing touches on actor Derrick Walton-Cooper.

Corinne Foster puts the finishing touches on actor Derrick Walton-Cooper.

“We definitely have had a little bit more of a rough time in needing to stay on top of their touch-ups and… the fact that the weather changes constantly,” she said. “It’s so hard to figure out, like, ‘how much do we seal them today? It’s a sunny day! Oh wait, it’s raining.’”

The makeup team consists of four artists from L.A. and three recruited artists from Seattle. Due to the fast-paced environment and limited budget restrictions for the show, the team uses a modeling technique that is applied with sponges in order to get the right skin texture.

Going from human to zombie can take a while. Dependent upon the extent of prosthetic makeup needed, featured zombies may be in the chair for as little as an hour and a half or as long as four hours. Background extras are typically in the chair for 30 to 45 minutes. All the extras are from the Pacific Northwest, Foster said, and are refreshing to work with.

Actor Tommy Goodwin

Actor Tommy Goodwin

“We’ve had a lot of really, really great extras that are all from the Northwest. I feel like the difference in people we have here versus in L.A. is that these people are excited at the idea of being a zombie,” she said. “Having them be excited…  makes it that much more fun and just makes it better because they want to be in it and they want to be scary.”

Foster has also enjoyed creating the looks for the main characters. Her favorite character to make up is “Murphy,” the only known survivor of a zombie bite, played by Keith Allan. As a survivor he has a few zombie battle wounds, to say the least, and is always in full character makeup.

“I think in general creating his look is by far my favorite thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of fun playing with the idea of him and what he is.”

Creating the undead every day is no easy task, and makeup has the longest days on set, along with wardrobe and transportation. Foster said her shortest day has been 13 hours, while her longest has been 20 when there are large scenes with a lot of extras. She said one day they had 53 extras, which understandably required all seven artists on set.

Luckily, Foster said she has had a few chances to unwind and explore a bit of the Pacific Northwest. She enjoyed an introductory visit to Seattle over the Fourth of July and also traveled out to the rainforest and Forks for a little Twilight sightseeing.

While the Z Nation crew may be filming in Washington, season one will not be taking us there in the show. However, Foster said there is still hope the survivors may make their way up to the Pacific Northwest.

“I believe they cross through on their way to California,” she said. “But that won’t be until season two, if there is a season two!”

Z Nation is giving a different perspective on the zombie story. Picking them out of the bumbling hoard, and creating individual characters. Zombie identity is changing and Foster and her team are going to show us what that looks like.

Bill Pullman on set. Photo by Lacy Jarrell

Movie Filming Gives Boost to Economy in Klamath Falls

Bill Pullman on set. Photo by Lacy Jarrell

Bill Pullman on set. Photo by Lacey Jarrell

By Holly Dillemuth Klamath Falls Herald and News

Between restaurant meals, hotel stays, catering, and everything in between, the filming of Brother in Laws in the Klamath Basin of Oregon is slated to bring $700,000 into the Klamath Falls area, according to film location manager Michael Chickey.

The economic boost is in addition to added publicity for the town, where many scenes in the movie are being filmed, including at the Klamath County Government Center, Adora Salon and Spa, and a downtown store owned by Linda Warner.

“It’s a wonderful industry to have visit here,” said Klamath Falls Mayor Todd Kellstrom. “They rent places and they buy stuff. It’s just a nice, clean economic boost for the industry.”

Filming Brother in Laws. Photo by Steven Silton

Filming Brother in Laws. Photo by Steven Silton

But while Klamath Falls made the final cut for the film, it was only one of several areas that were first under consideration.

“They brought me in and basically told me to find a cabin on a lake anywhere in Oregon,” Chickey said. “It was kind of a dream whirlwind scouting for two or three weeks.”

After scouting more than 10 lakes all over Oregon, including Crescent Lake, Detroit Lake, Devil’s Lake, Tenmile Lake and Odell Lake, Lake of the Woods stood out to Chickey. Many of the film’s scenes were shot at a westside Lake of the Woods Resort cabin in mid-August and early September.

“Once I got here, I was like, they’re coming here,” Chickey said on the set of the film in Keno in mid-September.

The cast at the cabin. Photo courtesy Instagram

The cast at the cabin. Photo courtesy Instagram

And the rest of the film followed, taking film crew and cast—including actors from Saturday Night Live, Bill Pullman and Rita Wilson—all over the Klamath Basin, and impacting a variety of businesses.

“We tried to source as much locally as we could,” Chickey said.

And that was noticed, particularly by Eric Peterson, manager of the Lake House Restaurant. Peterson and his restaurant staff catered two meals a day for the cast and crew for 15 days at Lake of the Woods, including an all-night film shoot in Keno. He emphasized the film staff searched out ways to utilize local establishments like the Lake House Restaurant at Lake of the Woods Resort.

“It was really nice of them to trust us local restaurants,” Peterson told the Herald and News. “They really cared. They ate in our restaurant a lot up here. It would be great to have more films (shot) here.”

And the menu for the cast and crew was piled with the restaurant’s favorites, such as smoked tri-tip, salmon, cod, tilapia, enchiladas and tacos, as well as salads and desserts.Brothers in Law IMG_2970

“We tried to change it up,” Peterson said. “They were really flexible. The whole cast and crew were amazing.”

Breakfast and lunch times varied from early in the morning to late at night, but the caterers made sure they didn’t leave hungry.

“We served anywhere from 70 to 110 people,” Peterson said. “It was a great experience. It was something I never thought that I’d be able to do.”

Local coffee shop a favorite
Gathering Grounds owner Brandon Sickler has been providing “craft services” to the crew and cast since filming began in mid-August. Sickler has kept busy during the filming of the movie, bringing coffee, tea, sandwiches and soup as needed.

“They’re pumping in hundreds of thousands of dollars into this community,” Sickler said, who added that the film has brought in at least $20,000 for his own establishment.

“It’s been a perfect thing, we were a newly established business,” Sickler said.

The cast of Brother in Laws. Photo courtesy Instagram

The cast of Brother in Laws. Photo courtesy Instagram

On set, he’s had a “backstage pass” to both cast and crew, and he said he has a new appreciation for the hard work they do.

“They called me ‘Crafty,’” he said. “I was everybody’s best friend as long as I kept them fed.

“They just need the calories to keep going.”

He also made sure to provide foods for vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free meals.

While the Brother in Laws film has created excitement in the Klamath Basin during the last several weeks, it’s not the first time crews have looked at the area for filming a movie.

Photo by Lacy Jarrell

Photo by Lacey Jarrell

Kellstrom said he remembers the Basin got some consideration for the filming of The River Wild, starring Kevin Bacon and Meryl Streep. But the film was shot in the Rogue River and in Idaho.

Some scenes from the film Night Moves, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard, also were filmed at Lake of the Woods in 2012, according to George Gregory, manager at the Lake of the Woods Resort. Last fall, the cast and crew of Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon, were at Crater Lake National Park.

City, county pleased with movie presence
The set of Brother in Laws  on the Klamath streets and surrounding areas is something welcomed by the city and Klamath County, according to Kellstrom and Commissioner Tom Mallams.

“From the sounds of things, the crew has had a good experience here,” Kellstrom said. “That will resonate as they talk to other people in the industry.”

Mallams agreed.

“It’s a great exposure for the city and the county,” Mallams told the Herald and News. “They’re generating quite a bit of dollars into our community while they’re here.”

Mallams also emphasized that the film crew is “paying their own way” to utilize parts of downtown Klamath Falls, as well as the Klamath County Government Center.

“We want to encourage them to because they’re a business,” he said. “It’s a very good win-win.”

For location information or questions about filming in Klamath County, contact Klamath County Chamber of Commerce at 541-884-5193 or inquiry@klamath.org. To contact the author, email hdillemuth@heraldandnews.com.

Grimm shoots season four in Oregon. Photo by Scott Green/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Oregon Production Update: A Wrap and Welcome Back

(l to r) Grimm stars Russell Hornsby, David Giuntoli, and Schakal film an episode for season four.

(l to r) Grimm stars Russell Hornsby, David Giuntoli, and Schakal film an episode for season four. Photo by Scott Green/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

By Susan Haley Associate Editor

Oregon’s crew and vendors are scrambling to fill production needs as two successful TV shows return, and a number of smaller film productions start shooting this fall. The state is happy to welcome back Grimm (season four) and Portlandia (season five), both with production offices located in Portland. Greenroom (Portland), Brother in Laws (Klamath Falls) and Cabin Fever: Reboot (Molalla) are three feature films also in various stages of production.

Thanks to Oregon’s legislature and support for the film incentive program, increased filming in the state has allowed businesses to grow as they deal with the demand for gear and equipment. Suppliers are able to add to their inventory and services to meet needs, and that makes for a more sustainable growth.

Portland’s Gearhead Production Rentals moved into a new facility last year that includes 15,000 square feet. The company employs four people full time, several part-time employees and has eight trucks that stay busy. Gearhead’s Don Rohrbacker says, “We’ve seen steady increase in long-term projects, television series in particular. Both rentals and sales to feature work and local commercial production remains important. This has caused us to move into the larger facility, expand our offerings across the board. In addition to the trucks and supplies you may be familiar with, we now offer a two-ton production supply cube, overflow parking and an insert stage soon to be completed here at 4720 SE 26th.”

Grimm shoots season four in Oregon. Photo by Scott Green/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Grimm shoots season four in Oregon. Photo by Scott Green/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Larger shows also give local crew and cast opportunities to grow in their own experience and add to their resume. Many then go on to bring their talents to smaller shows. Christina Kortum, of Ravenous Studios, is one such crewmember. In 2006, Kortum had an opportunity to work on a small film. The increased demand for her work allowed her to form her own company in 2009. Since then she has worked on Grimm, The Librarians, Portlandia, Wild and numerous local films, and is currently the key SFX makeup artist for Cabin Fever: Reboot, shooting in Molalla, Oregon.

Says Kortum, “I feel incredibly fortunate living in Oregon in that I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in larger productions that come to town, as well as more intimate indie projects such as Cabin Fever, where I get to be a part of the design process.”

In addition to welcoming returning shows and new films, Oregon also saw The Librarians wrap its first season. This exciting new TV series is from Electric Entertainment, which also produced the highly popular shot-in-Oregon TV series Leverage, as well as the TV movie Librarian trilogy. Electric has proven itself as much a fan of Oregon as Oregon has of executive producer Dean Devlin and the company. They have consistently made a point of utilizing as much of the Oregon crew, cast and services as are available.

“We had an amazing time shooting the first season of The Librarians in Oregon. It was so great being back in the Pacific Northwest, working with the crew that we love on a project that is so special to us. I think I speak on behalf of Dean Devlin and all the producers of the show when I say that we certainly hope that we’ll be back next year. Our fingers are firmly crossed for season two and beyond,” said producer Rachel Olschan.

The Librarians premieres on December 7 on TNT.

Oregon appreciates the return business and is also proud of its talented crew, vendors and actors!

Amazon Pilot Shoots in Seattle

IMG_2022

An original pilot from Amazon Studios is currently being shot in Seattle and surrounding areas.

The Man in the High Castle, based on the 1962 book by Philip K. Dick, is scheduled to shoot through mid-October, and has already been spotted at Union Station in Pioneer Square, the Old Rainier Brewery in Georgetown, and at the top of Queen Anne Hill, among several other locations. Media Inc. spotted the production at the Old Rainier Brewery and snapped the pictures seen here.IMG_2016

In addition to Seattle, the pilot also filmed in Roslyn, Washington, among other locations.

Here is the pilot’s premise, according to Deadline.com: The project is set in 1962 and explores an alternative reality in which Nazi Germany and Japan won World War II and occupy the United States, with the East Coast controlled by the Nazis and the West Coast owned by Japan, and a chunk of the Midwest still up for grabs.

The Man in the High Castle is being produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions. Scott has been trying to adapt Dick’s Hugo Award-winning novel for years, and had even struck a deal for a four-part mini-series in 2010 with BBC, and again in 2013 with Syfy, but nothing ever came to fruition. IMG_2023

From writer/executive producer Frank Spotnitz (best known for his work on The X-Files) and director David Semel, the pilot stars Alexa Davalos (Mob City), Luke Kleintank (Pretty Little Liars), Cary Tagawa (Beyond the Game) and Rupert Evans (Hellboy).

The Man in the High Castle is part of Amazon Studios’ third annual pilot launch, in which Amazon will determine which pilots will be picked up based on viewer feedback. Sources speculate that although the pilot is being filmed in Washington State, it is unlikely that the series, if picked up, would film here due to lack of incentive funds.

photo3

Black Road: Crafted to Make a Profit

The new culture of film entrepreneurship, regional film investment & artistic sustainability

By Anne Lundgren Guest Columnist

photo4

The science-fiction thriller Black Road was filmed this summer over 21 days on a shoe-string budget in the hills of Ashland, Oregon.

The film is the third that we’ve made in Southern Oregon, after the baseball comedy Calvin Marshall (2010) and the road drama Redwood Highway (2014). It’s set in the year 2049 and stars Sam Daly as a cyborg drifter hired to protect a mysterious woman from her evil ex.

Black Road was crafted from the early stages of script development to make a profit. Unlike our first two films, it is a genre movie and was made as cheaply as possible with the intention of being profitable.IMG_4070

Many will cry: Heresy. Sell-out. True art cannot be limited by profitability.

Filmmaking by nature is limited, no matter the budget. It is a collaborative, chaotic art form produced in a finite number of labor-intensive, mind-numbing, 12-hour-plus days. The creative team makes hundreds of decisions and calculated compromises each day.

It is the talent of this team and the force of the vision that create great art, not the budget. Therefore, a film can be made for almost any amount.

When we set out to make Black Road, we knew we would have to be creative in our financing strategy. Even after having two features released theatrically and widely available on DVD, VOD, and Digital (Netflix, Amazon, iTunes), independent film financing still proves difficult.photo3

Our first film, Calvin Marshall, was released between 2008-2010 when independent distributors were going out of business and consumers were transitioning from buying DVDs to digital formats. At one point, our distribution consultant said, “I can’t recommend a distributor, because I don’t know who will be in business next month.” The film was released and is still available on DVD and digital, but its pre-2008 budget did not match the reality of post-crash revenues.

Redwood Highway was made for a conservative budget, was released theatrically in 2014, and is now available on digital and DVD outlets. It is by most counts very successful, but it will be a few years before we know if it is profitable.

Independent producers are faced with a new world of changing distribution models, shrinking budgets and skeptical investors. And who can blame the investors? To them, the film industry is a black box, confusing and risky, with non-traditional business models often unexplainable even by industry experts.

What’s an independent filmmaker to do? Building a long-term career and earning a living wage can seem all but impossible, and filmmakers often despair and give up. We were faced with this proposition in 2013 when it seemed that no one was willing to take a risk on an independent film, especially without the guarantee of blockbuster revenues.IMG_1999sm

Instead we began to live by a new mantra—if we want to keep making movies, we must show profits. Really, this is just good business sense. We based the budget on what we knew the film could make within the first couple of years, including a good profit margin, and the script was written with budget in mind, having limited locations and speaking roles.

Black Road is a genre film, but ultimately the characters and story still convey heartfelt humanity and meaning, as in writer/director Gary Lundgren’s other films. As artists, we can’t help but be true to the art form. That will always take precedence. But now we also have the opportunity to focus on business elements and embrace a new culture of film entrepreneurship.

In the end, the financing for Black Road reflects a tapestry of generosity by the friends and communities of all of the cast and crew. The budget is made up of sponsor donations, in-kind services, Kickstarter funding, and investor equity. Most of the food for the shoot was donated by local restaurants. Brammo let us use their Empulse electric motorcycle for the filming, the Ashland Springs Hotel sponsored hotel rooms for our out-of-town actors, and all of our equipment was donated.

In addition, Black Road is a cast-and-crew-owned movie. We put together a tiny team, many of whom we’ve worked with for over 10 years. They sacrificed higher paying summer jobs to work for minimum wage and own a piece of the film.sam

We raised half of the funds through Kickstarter from friends and family of the cast and crew and an incredibly supportive community. The other half of the funding came from a group of regional investors who helped us build a business model that made sense to traditional, savvy, risk-adverse investors. They guided us, trusted us, took steps to learn about a new industry, and invested in our team and the hope of building a new regional film economy.

Everyone on the crew wore multiple hats and worked their hearts out to make the best film possible. It was hard, but worth it. When we wrapped, a good friend (and one of our investors) asked, “So next time you’ll have a bigger crew, wear less hats and pay everyone real wages, right? You can’t ask everyone to do this again, can you?”IMG_6683

I hope for higher budgets, but for now, the answer is that we have to earn them. The budget can only increase once our films, our audience, the market, and new distribution streams prove that profitability can be achieved at a higher budget. Otherwise we risk all that we’ve worked for—a prosperous, sustainable, artistically creative life—and the only thing we’ve really ever wanted all along: The opportunity to make the next film.

Anne Lundgren is an independent film producer living in Ashland, Oregon. In addition to working on national commercials and music videos, she produces for her husband, writer/director, Gary Lundgren. Together they have made the features Calvin Marshall, Redwood Highway, and Black Road.

Anniversary Special

Three Northwest companies—a casting director in Portland, a production services company in Seattle, and a soundstage/gear rental company in Portland—celebrated major anniversaries in 2014. Cheers to their success!

 

CELEBRATING 15 YEARS

CastIronStudios- Casting Director Eryn Goodman, Casting Director Lana Veenker, Casting Associate Ranielle Gray.Lana Veenker,
Cast Iron Studios

What does this anniversary mean to you, your staff, and your clients?
We held a big blow-out celebration for our fifth anniversary, but our tenth was in the middle of the recession, so we were pretty hunkered down and didn’t do much. For our fifteenth, what I’m really celebrating is that Eryn Goodman (Casting Director) and Ranielle Gray (Casting Associate) have stuck with me through thick and thin all of these years. Eryn just tallied her nine-year anniversary with Cast Iron Studios in September, and Ranielle’s eighth is coming up in February.

How did you celebrate, and with whom?
Instead of shelling out a bunch of dough for a big party, I’m treating them to a spa day, upgrading their computers, and implementing an employer-matching retirement plan. We all have a lot on our plates this fall, so we decided to hold off on the next blow-out until the 20th. For now, I just want to show my appreciation for all their hard work.

How has your business changed over the years?Cast Iron Studios - grimm
Early on, I was chief cook and bottle washer; doing their jobs plus mine, and working every evening and weekend. Now that we have such a solid and deeply experienced team, I can focus more on marketing and business development, knowing that our clients are in excellent hands. We all have more regular hours as well, especially since advances in technology keep us from having to stay in the office late at night editing, or racing to the airport to catch the last FedEx.

What is one memorable moment from your career?
There have been many highlights, but walking the red carpet at Cannes for Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park was a big one. I lived in France for many years and still visit often, so Cannes was like the Oscars for me. Being assigned to the same limo as Tilda Swinton was just icing on the cake!Cast Iron at TIFF with jean marc vallee

What’s next for your company?
We are working on putting together a development division, with the hopes of eventually establishing a film fund that would be at least half from Northwest sources, in order to retain leverage to keep the projects local. It’s a slow process, as we’re investigating an approach that I don’t think has been done in Oregon before. In the meantime, we’re looking for other ways to put our local, national and international connections to good use, possibly by helping to secure distribution for high-quality local content that has already been produced, but has not found a home. We’re taking our time in order to identify the right niche for our skills and resources within a rapidly changing industry.

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS

Clatter IMG_6625Vince Werner,
Clatter&Din

What does this anniversary mean to you, your staff, and your clients?
To me, it means: ‘Twenty years? We must be doing SOMETHING right!’ This isn’t a business that generates huge profits or even predictable revenue, so it’s not that we’re surfing along on a cash cushion. We’ve always operated on a rather squishy ‘fun first – people first’ mantra. We try to create a fun and creative environment for our team here, and for our clients, and it has resulted in low turnover, relative stability and loyal customers. So, I guess 20 years means a validation of that principal. Maybe not quite as much validation as a retirement home in the San Juans, but at the end of the day, I’ll take it. I’m proud of what we are and where we’ve been.

How did you celebrate, and with whom?Clatter2027
We threw a classic animal-house style kegger, which has always been our style. No maudlin speeches, no security people checking a guest list—just music, drink, food and an excuse for the creative community to come hang out and have a great time. I think there were about 500 or so people here, so of course I didn’t get to spend much time with any of them, unfortunately. Particularly gratifying was seeing several agency principals, colleagues, our past employers—people who have been such a big part of that 20-year history. Maybe 10 percent of the people there have ever written a check to Clatter&Din, and yet everyone there has been an important part of the story, and I’m full of gratitude for all of them. I’ll always remember that night, but that’s partly because I couldn’t get near the bar!Clatter2032-CC

How has your business changed over the years?
What HASN’T changed? When we started, we leap-frogged the tech prowess of our predecessors with our whopping total of 9 gigabytes of online media storage. Microsoft was our first client, and we won that with our ability to deliver audio as sound files on Magneto/Optical disks. We were very bleeding edge, although we didn’t even have email, and our first website was years away. Also, the local talent pool was robust, and in the days before Vimeo and FTP, creative teams actually came to sessions! Therefore, the place was hopping with people-energy every day! It seemed like a constant good-time laugh riot. Our connected world has reduced that personal interaction to a certain degree, and I do occasionally get wistful about that. However, the biggest change has been the integration of media creation disciplines. I think we did a pretty good job of seeing that coming, adding ‘light weight’ video and web services, anchored to our ‘heavy’ audio infrastructure. It took a while, but I think we are finally starting to look pretty smart about that!Clatter NWUkes_w_Barnes

What is one memorable moment from your career?
There are many, but what pops to mind is winning the Radio Mercury award with a spec spot written by Ken Bennett for a long gone Fremont-based brew-your-own-beer place. We beat out Budweiser’s talking frog campaign in the humor category. I got to put on a tux and spend some of the prize money in NYC with Ken and my lovely wife, Mary. That also reminds me of another New York experience: being in NYC for a trade show during the ‘95 Yankees – Mariners series, and watching Edgar’s RBI double bring Griffey around from first for the win—all while sitting in Mickey Mantle’s Bar across the street from Central Park. We were even on national TV for about 3 seconds. That was pretty sweet!

What’s next for your company?Clatter2030
Navigating change while maintaining culture is always the biggest challenge. The landscape for media creation and consumption is obviously being re-made, and the disruption is accelerating. We’ll try to be both smart and proactive in keeping ahead of that curve. I think we’ll see continued evolution in what we do, how we do it, and even who we do it for. I DO believe there will most certainly be a 30th Anniversary Party. And you’re invited!

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS

Chris Crever,
Cine Rent West

What does this anniversary mean to you, your staff, and your clients?
This 20th anniversary milestone is huge for all of us. The production industry has been completely transformed in the last 20 years. In 1994 very few of us could have predicted the role digital technology would play in producing and distributing video. YouTube was still 11 years in the future.
Those of us who’ve been around since the ‘90s can remember weathering several downturns in the industry. But the fact that we’ve not just survived but actually thrived throughout this change is a testament to our staff and clients.
In our industry 20 years is worth celebrating.

How did you celebrate, and with whom?
We took a moment to acknowledge this landmark with our staff, then told everybody to get back to work. We had a big deadline.

How has your business changed over the years?cinerentwestphoto1
When Cine Rent West opened its doors for business in 1994 as a production facility, film was king. Gregg Snazelle, who was an icon in the San Francisco film community, purchased the building from animator Will Vinton and moved his production business to Portland. He outfitted it as a full soundstage, brought in cameras, and set up editing rooms. One of his first major jobs was editing Mr. Holland’s Opus, which received several Oscar nominations.
After Gregg’s untimely death in 1999, the facility was run by his son Craig for a year. Then in 2000 he worked out a deal with me (Chris Crever), who was working as a 1st AC and looking to invest in a facility. In January of 2001 I assumed ownership.
In the early days we were fortunate to have a steady client base who did big film shoots. We worked with companies like Tyee Films doing long format productions for clients like Bowflex. But in the past ten years, camera technology has improved to require less intensive lighting. And there’s been an immense pressure to cut budgets. We’ve continued to keep busy by being more nimble. Quickly turning around the facility for shorter shoots and smaller crews.
At the same time we’ve filled the office portion of the building with industry-specific tenants. We currently provide space for designers, entertainment attorneys, production bookkeeping, and small production companies.

What is one memorable moment for you and your company?
It’s tough to narrow it down to just one. Our 185 most memorable moments came when we did the Old Spice YouTube campaign with Weiden+Kennedy. Over three days we shot 185 short videos with actor Isaiah Mustafa. He wore his signature bath towel and stood in a rustic log cabin set, while sending out holiday greetings to the world.
That was one of three similar campaigns. The last one we shot here was the bathroom showdown with Fabio.

What’s next for your company?
Twenty years ago it was impossible to predict where the production industry would be today. In just the past 5 years the rate of change has accelerated noticeably. So we’d be crazy to try to predict what production will be like in the next 20 years. In 2034 will they even call what we’re doing “video”?
We’re going to keep doing the things that have made us successful to this point: paying attention to and embracing change, working hard to meet our clients’ unique needs, and supporting the next generation in the production industry.

Partnering Research and Industry to Promote Pacific Northwest Media

Mary Erickson Head ShotBy Mary Erickson
Founder and Director of Pacific Northwest Media Research Consortium

This summer, a group of scholars who focus on media in the Pacific Northwest formed an organization to gather their research in one place. I spearheaded the founding of the Pacific Northwest Media Research Consortium in order to highlight the ways in which regional media contribute to the overall cultural makeup of the Pacific Northwest.

I have been researching and working in film and television in the Pacific Northwest for a number of years, and I have seen a huge growth in the strength and vitality of these industries. For example, in 2013, Moviemaker Magazine declared Seattle as the third best city in the U.S. to make movies. Portland came in at number five. The metro area of Vancouver, BC, regularly hosts major TV and film productions, such as Once Upon A Time, Bates Motel, and the latest Godzilla blockbuster. Meanwhile, new film-related ventures have started across the Pacific Northwest region. The Film Factory opened facilities in Kelowna, BC, to provide a hub for filmmakers and other local creatives. After being closed for over a year, a movie theater in Florence, Oregon, reopened as an independent cinema in August under the new name City Lights Cinema. Such a vigorous landscape of media activity signals interest in and excitement about the region and the possibilities of homegrown creative production.

City Lights Cinema in Florence, Oregon.

City Lights Cinema in Florence, Oregon.

I see similar developments in other regional industries, such as video games and Internet. There is public interest and pride in supporting locally-based media, both for the cultural caché as well as for the regional economic benefit. There are also numerous researchers doing really great work about phenomena that impact regional media, and this work could make a positive contribution to the media landscape, strengthening it even more. The Consortium is intended to bring these two elements—the research and the industry—together to facilitate and promote active, vibrant media that stems from and gives back to the region.

This international network of researchers focuses on media in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, a unique region in its own right with similarities in geography, environment and culture. The scope of media is broad: film, television, newspapers, video games, Internet, radio, and so on. Consortium members bring a range of experience, both academic and professional, to facilitate sustainable, ethical and culturally productive media in the Pacific Northwest. Members specialize in historical, cultural, political and economic dimensions of Pacific Northwest media, including regional minority newspapers, environmental links to media, independent filmmaking communities, Cascadian identities, and the unique relationships that emerge when media crosses the U.S.-Canada border.

We have started a blog about Pacific Northwest media to begin to track some of the phenomena we’ve been witnessing. Some of our articles cover the challenge of establishing public access television in a community; Kelly Reichardt’s 2013 film, Night Moves; and the state of independent movie theaters.

As it grows, the Consortium is also developing resources for those who research and teach about media in the Pacific Northwest. The website will host an online repository of research articles, books, videos and other sources that focus on locally- and regionally-based media. We are also assembling teaching resources to facilitate increased understanding of media in the region.

The Consortium is in the midst of developing partnerships with other regionally-focused academic programs, archives and industry organizations. These relationships will help direct our organizational research agenda starting next year, which will focus primarily on the research needs of the region’s media industries.

To learn more about the Consortium and partnership or member opportunities, visit our website (pnwmediaresearch.wordpress.com), and connect with us on Twitter (@pnwmedia) and Facebook (facebook.com/pnwmediaresearch).

The Source for Northwest Media News and Information