Portland Wins Role as City for Moviemakers

Portland, named one of the top cities to live and work as a filmmaker, hosts another season of 'Grimm.'

Portland, named one of the top cities to live and work as a filmmaker, hosts another season of ‘Grimm.’

By Shelley Midthun and Anne Mangan Guest Columnists
Librarians images courtesy of Electric Entertainment
Grimm images courtesy of NBC Universal

From Wheel of Fortune to Wild, Portland earns rave reviews for its performance, both on screen and behind the camera. The city’s most recent accolade: inclusion in MovieMaker magazine’s top 10 places to live and work as a filmmaker.

Interest in Portland hasn’t sprung up overnight—but success definitely breeds success. In addition to Oscar-nominated films like Wild, Portland has attracted enough features, commercials and solid TV shows in recent years (Leverage, Portlandia, Grimm, The Librarians) to build an impressive level of local industry, from casting agencies to production crew. The training and experience that such productions offer add to Portland’s deepening talent pool. This makes the city ever more appealing to Hollywood honchos who enjoy Portland’s combination of laid-back vibe and dedicated, professional local crew.

'The Librarians' will return to Portland in June to film its second season.

‘The Librarians’ will return to Portland in June to film its second season.

Portland has always been a fine place to be a movie-goer. The central city is dense with independent movie screens, and the local film community is strong, committed and proud of the city’s standing as a location of choice. The homegrown love for movie magic and craft is an unquestionable asset, fostering an environment that is especially hospitable for filmmakers.

That hospitality extends to money matters as well: Portland is the most affordable big city on the West Coast, and Oregon’s $10 million tax credit program (raised from $6 million in 2013) offers 20 percent off Oregon-based goods and services and 10 percent off Oregon-based payroll.

'Grimm' films in Portland.

‘Grimm’ films in Portland.

But the biggest draw may be the one thing that comes most naturally: Portland’s good looks. It’s a beautifully designed city with a scenic waterfront, stately bridges, urban parks, and a versatile blend of outdoor spaces, historic buildings and distinctive neighborhoods that can stand in for any number of cities, from Minneapolis to Dubai. Makers of car commercials love the open streets and storefronts; outdoor apparel businesses create wilderness shots in parks just steps from city amenities.

Location, lifestyle and local support make a tough-to-beat trio. When it comes to choosing where to live and work as a moviemaker, Portland definitely wins the award.

Shelley Midthun is Film, Television and Digital Media Program Manager at the Portland Development Commission. She is also on the Advisory Council of the Oregon Story Board. Anne Mangan is Senior Communications Coordinator at the Portland Development Commission.

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