Category Archives: Television

A scene from the upcoming season of the Portland-shot series Significant Mother. Photo courtesy of Alloy Entertainment

The CW’s Significant Mother Shoots in Portland

On the set of the Portland-shot series Significant Mother with executive producer Tripp Reed and actress Krista Allen as Lydia. Photo by Scott Patrick Green/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

On the set of the Portland-shot series Significant Mother with executive producer Tripp Reed and actress Krista Allen as Lydia. Photo by Scott Patrick Green/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

By Mary Erickson Oregon Editor

Last June, a new digital TV comedy started shooting in Portland. The producers of the show with a tentative name unsuitable for mixed company put an unconventional spin on the sitcom with a cross-generational romantic relationship. The result is Alloy Entertainment’s Significant Mother.

Originally created for The CW’s digital channel, CW Seed, three digital episodes were produced in 2014. Once CW executives saw the show, they ordered a total of nine episodes for broadcast on the CW network, forgoing Seed altogether. The three original episodes were never shown on CW Seed. Alloy Entertainment, which produced Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries, has just wrapped production last month on the first season of Significant Mother.

The story follows Nate, a young restaurateur played by Josh Zuckerman. Nate goes out of town and comes back to find his best friend and roommate, a Lothario of sorts, in a relationship with Nate’s mother.

A scene from the upcoming season of the Portland-shot series Significant Mother. Photo courtesy of Alloy Entertainment

A scene from the upcoming season of the Portland-shot series Significant Mother. Photo courtesy of Alloy Entertainment

“It’s kind of a new twist on Three’s Company with a lot of funny, and it ends up having a lot of heart as well,” says Tripp Reed, the show’s executive producer and director of several episodes.

Joining Zuckerman on screen is Krista Allen, who plays Nate’s mom Lydia, and Jonathan Silverman, who plays Nate’s dad. The show has also brought in Denise Richards and Linda Gray for guest appearances.

Creators and writers Erin Cardillo and Richard Keith considered Portland to be a perfect location thanks to its reputation as a mecca for food appreciation.

“When we were thinking about places to set the show,” says Cardillo, “we thought about Portland and how it’s such a great foodie town. Rich and I are both foodies, and we’re really into that culture up here.”

Reed connected with Oregon Film’s then-executive director Vince Porter to scope out Portland.

“Vince was kind enough to fly me up and showcase Portland,” he says. “He introduced me to the physical production team of Portlandia. Their first and second year budgets were similar to what we’d be working with. We got to see what is possible in Portland.” The show also qualifies for i-OPIF incentives, making Portland all the more appealing.

Nathaniel Buzolic and Krista Allen in Significant Mother. Photo courtesy of Alloy Entertainment

Nathaniel Buzolic and Krista Allen in Significant Mother. Photo courtesy of Alloy Entertainment

Keith recalled his previous experience working in Portland on 2013’s City Baby, directed by David F. Morgan. This low-budget independent production introduced him to crew with whom he’d reconnect for Significant Mother. “About half the crew on our show now is from that movie,” says Keith. “Everybody is really laid back and enjoys what they do. That makes it so much more fun.”

“The crews are professional and they’re used to working on a variety of sizes of shows,” says Reed. “They can work on something small, but they know how to do it well. They can shift gears easily. On a small production like ours, we don’t always have the luxury of pre-planning, so the crews here are flexible when we need to bring in stars or change the location.”

Significant Mother works hard to bring Portland to the forefront of the screen. “The show has a very Portland vibe,” says Reed, “so we’re constantly trying to find ways to get our characters out into the real Portland.”

To accomplish this, the production has worked with the city’s film office. “We’ve had incredible support from the city of Portland and we’ve been able to do pretty much what we want to do. We shot in front of Union Station. It’s such an iconic building, and it’s amazing that we can do that. In Los Angeles, you’d have to be a large production to shoot in such a prominent location.”

With its unconventional premise of an older woman dating a much younger man, the show is pushing boundaries and breaking down preconceived ideas of how people behave. As Reed points out, “Portland goes by its own rules and the people of Portland have an attitude and perspective on life that you don’t find everywhere else in the country. That’s one of the reasons why it’s such a great place to set the show.”

Significant Mother premieres on The CW on Monday, August 3, at 9:30pm.

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

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.

Three Oregon TV Series Renewed

By Susan Haley Associate Editor

Oregon has great news to share in its TV production schedule! According to recent reports, the networks have renewed all three of the TV shows that have made the state home in recent years.

TNT has announced its decision to renew The Librarians for a second season. The Librarians premiered in December as the most-watched new cable series of 2014 and is produced by Dean Devlin’s Electric Entertainment, which also brought the series Leverage to Oregon for several successful seasons.

Dean Devlin featured with Noah Wyle on the set of The Librarians. SCOTT PATRICK GREEN

Dean Devlin featured with Noah Wyle on the set of The Librarians. SCOTT PATRICK GREEN

Based on the popular movie franchise, The Librarians television series centers on an ancient organization hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library dedicated to protecting the unknowing world from a secret, magical reality. The series stars Noah Wyle as Flynn Carsen, the Librarian, with Rebecca Romijn as his guardian, and Christian Kane, Lindy Booth and John Kim as the newest generation of Librarians. John Larroquette returns as caretaker Jenkins.

A scene from Portlandia, starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen. AUGUSTA QUIRK/IFC

A scene from Portlandia, starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen. AUGUSTA QUIRK/IFC

IFC also announced that the series Portlandia will be back for two additional seasons. Portlandia is produced by Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video and is currently airing on IFC in its fifth season. The show stars Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen and includes guest roles that bring some of the best comedy casting to the Pacific Northwest. Shot in Portland, the show includes some of the odder aspects of the NW lifestyle that has obviously hit a popular chord.

“We are so excited to get to do more Portlandia with IFC,” said Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein in a joint statement. “Getting to work with Jon (Krisel, the series’ co-creator and director) and our talented writers and crew, it really is our favorite thing in the world. Also, we get to spend more time in Portland!”

The renewal is for 10 half-hour episodes in both seasons six and seven. Season five can be seen on IFC at 10pm on Thursdays.

(l-r) Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin, David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, and Schakal star in Grimm,  which is being filmed in Oregon. SCOTT GREEN/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK

(l-r) Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin, David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, and Schakal star in Grimm,
which is being filmed in Oregon. SCOTT GREEN/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK

In the first week of February, NBC announced that Grimm is being picked up for season five.  The show, shot on stages and on location in Portland and the metro area, has been doing well in its Friday night timeslot, with season four garnering over 7.2 million viewers all-told.

Grimm was one of five dramas NBC renewed for the 2015-16 season. The show stars David Giuntoli, Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Reggie Lee, Sasha Roiz, Bree Turner and Claire Coffee. Executive producers include Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner, David Greenwalt, Jim Kouf and Norberto Barba.

These shows represent hundreds of jobs for Oregonians—both crew and talent who work hard to help make these shows a success, not to mention the continued work for vendors and support industries that service Oregon’s film and television industry. Oregon is thrilled to have all of these shows back!

PisayPao_ZNation-3

Pisay’s Power Play

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Local actress Pisay Pao stars in Z Nation.

Z Nation Actress Pisay Pao Talks Filming in Spokane

By Katie Sauro Associate Editor
Photos by Daniel Schaefer/Go2 Digital Media

Z Nation is officially returning to film season two in Spokane, Washington, and no one could be more excited than actress Pisay Pao, who grew up in Seattle and worked on local commercials and films before landing the role of “Cassandra” on the Syfy series.

Filming in her home state and surrounded by local cast and crew, Pao describes the on-set atmosphere during season one as “euphoric.”

“Each week there was someone new to congratulate or hug on set,” she says. “This was because every single episode was filled with talented Washington actors. I was just as happy to see my friends and peers as they were to see me. It was like we all won the golden ticket. I know I’ll never have another experience like this.”PisayPao_ZNation-4

Of course, no matter how many of your friends are on set or how familiar you are with your environs, filming your very first TV series can be incredibly stressful, says Pao.

“I prayed every day that I wouldn’t mess up. It didn’t work,” she says. “Luckily, I was surrounded by a very supportive cast and crew.”

Pao recalls one particular moment on set when the crew came to the actors’ rescue.

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Pao films a scene for the season one finale.

“Spokane is such a diverse city in terms of its landscape,” she explains. “There were days where it would rain and hail. Then 30 minutes later, the sun would come out. And of course this would happen when we really needed to get a shot or we were running behind on schedule. But you don’t argue with Mother Nature.

“I remember a scene where we were all standing outside waiting to get into a compound and it just kept raining on and off. Anyone and everyone on the crew that had a free hand stood with an umbrella over the cast members, making sure our hair and makeup wouldn’t get wet. They just kept running in and out of the scene every time the rain would stop or start. It was comical, and really touching.”

PisayPao_ZNation-10

The newly-zombified actress.

This is what Pao enjoyed most about working on the production: the camaraderie.

“Every single TV or movie set runs into problems. Just about every project runs behind schedule,” she says. “But when you have a great team that’s willing to get a little wet so that the production as a whole gets the shot it needs, and they can laugh it off as part of the job, it’s really special.”

Not only did the crew go above and beyond to ensure that the production was a success, but so did the pool of talented actors, many of whom were from Washington.

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Between takes with fellow Washington-based actor Nat Zang.

“Nearly all of the actors that worked on Z Nation from Washington showed up 110 percent prepared. They knew their lines, they hit their marks, and just gave their overall best,” says Pao. “I know this probably sounds biased, but the truth is I think Washington actors feel like they have more to prove and they don’t have the opportunity to prove it often (given how hard it is to get things filmed in the state and how hard it is to get local talent hired over someone from L.A.), so when an opportunity does come along, they don’t take it for granted.”

Many of these actors will get another chance to showcase their talents during season two, which begins filming in April.

Speaking of season two, what’s next for Pao’s character, Cassandra? The first season’s finale ended with several cliffhangers, including Cassandra becoming infected with the zombie vaccine/virus.

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That’s a wrap on season one!

No spoilers for us. Says Pao, “I have to plead the fifth.”

Fans will have to wait until season two premieres to find out. Until then, Media Inc. will bring you more stories from behind the scenes, as cast and crew film throughout the spring and summer.

Pisay Pao is represented by TCM Models & Talent in Seattle. Visit www.tcmmodels.com for more information.

RM-Film Day 2015-0053

Legislative Update

RM-Film Day 2015-0184

Cast and crew set up a zombie apocalypse scene for Film Day in Olympia.

What Does This Session Mean for the Northwest Production Industry?

Photos by Regan MacStravic

At press time, both Washington and Oregon were in the midst of an important legislative session that could have important repercussions on the local film industry. Here, we take you through some of the bills on the table and what their impact might be. We’ll bring you updates as they become available both here and in our next issue.

WASHINGTON
In Washington State, a bill to increase the funding for the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program was introduced in the Washington State Senate on February 17. Senate Bill 6027 (SB 6027) has been referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee and a hearing was held on Wednesday, March 25.RM-Film Day 2015-0053

SB 6027 would double the size of the production incentive program over the next two years to $7 million and increase the fund incrementally each year until it reaches $10 million in 2019. The sunset date for the program would also be extended to 2022.RM-Film Day 2015-0155

Washington’s current incentive program is the fifth smallest in the country. In April of last year, 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 for the year.RM-Film Day 2015-0047

SB 6027 aims to increase the incentive cap in order to keep Washington’s film industry competitive and help to retain film industry talent to fuel the statewide creative economy. The bill, which is supported by Mayor Ed Murray, is prime sponsored by Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D, 36th), and co-sponsored by Senator Andy Billig (D, 3rd) and Senator Joe Fain (R, 47th).RM-Film Day 2015-0117

Filmworks organized a Film Day in Olympia on Tuesday, March 17. Nearly 300 participants from the local production community were in attendance to advocate for the film industry and many met with legislators to discuss the importance of the production incentive program in building a strong and robust creative economy. In addition, a film set was constructed behind the Capital Steps so that legislators could RM-Film Day 2015-0022see for themselves what cast and crew do on a “typical day at work.”

For more information, visit www.washingtonfilmworks.org or www.keepfilminwa.com.

OREGON
Meanwhile, spring is coming into Oregon like a lion this year with a change in leadership at the OMPA, several bills relating to Oregon’s film incentive program introduced into this 78th legislative session, and the great production news regarding the TV shows shooting in the state. Once Nathaniel Applefield, the new Interim Executive Director at the OMPA, has time to settle in, we’ll bring you a round-up of all of the measures in Salem that affect the incentive program. In the meantime, here are summaries of the bills to watch in Oregon’s Legislative Session:

Senate Bill 872
Increases amount of maximum total tax credits for certified film production development contributions for fiscal year. Limits amount of expense reimbursement for filmmakers other than local filmmakers. Increases limit on reimbursement for local filmmaker or media production services company.

House Bill 2072
Establishes task force on Oregon film and media production. Increases amount of maximum total tax credits for certified film production development contributions for fiscal year. Provides for appropriation to Oregon Production Investment Fund for reimbursements of expenses for films or media production services produced or performed outside Portland metropolitan area. Removes limit on amount of expense reimbursement to local filmmaker or local media production services company. Applies to fiscal years beginning on or after July 1, 2015.

House Bill 2898
Increases amount of reimbursement from Oregon Production Investment Fund that is available to local filmmaker or media production services company. Applies to fiscal years beginning on or after July 1, 2015.

Senate Bill 799
Advances sunset for tax credit for film production.

For more information, visit www.oregonfilm.org.

Chef Justina Panther-Renoud with Z Nation actor Keith Allan.

Feeding Zombies: Justina Panther-Renoud Caters to the Cast and Crew of Z Nation

Chef Justina Panther-Renoud with Z Nation actor Keith Allan.

Chef Justina Panther-Renoud with Z Nation actor Keith Allan.

For five months last summer, Seattle-based chef Justina Panther-Renoud returned to Spokane to work on the first season of Z Nation, an incentive project approved by Washington Filmworks.

Panther-Renoud has been in craft services for nine years and has extensive experience serving cast and crew on various projects, so the decision to hire her was a simple one for the production. Not to mention her hometown roots.

“I’m originally from Spokane, so I knew the UPM there already,” she explains, “and the locations manager actually contacted me and told me to get in touch with producer Marc Dahlstrom. It was as easy as that!”

Justina Panther-Renoud

What wasn’t so easy was dealing with the desert-like conditions of Eastern Washington in the heart of summer.

“It was a grind every day, and very grueling,” she says. “It was a zombie apocalypse, so we never had any green, lush locations. It was always dry and barren, so I had to keep the food as fresh as possible.”

In fact, the temperature reached 105 degrees at the end of July and early August, sending Panther-Renoud scrambling to the store to pick up 350 pounds of ice a day, every day, for a two-week stretch.

“Every day, I was at the store an hour before call time getting fresh food and ice, and usually again at the store for an hour after we wrapped,” she says. Panther-Renoud worked no less than a 12- or 13-hour day, every day.

“For craft services, I always say that I’m kind of the most important and least important all at the same time,” she says. “We’re low on the totem pole, but as far as my importance on set, I’m told by everybody that it’s me who will change the morale of the whole day. Their clocks are set to when I’m coming around with sandwiches.”

A typical day for Panther-Renoud—after hitting the grocery store, of course—began with set-up at 6 or 7am, followed by breakfast. Three hours after that, she brought sandwiches around for the cast and crew. She estimates that she made a total of about 6,500 sandwiches throughout the summer. Then, throughout the day, Panther-Renoud would bring around various trays, from antipasto trays to balsamic drizzled-figs to fruit platters.

“Russell Hodgkinson, who plays ‘Doc’ on the show, called this ‘happy dip time,’” says Panther-Renoud.

It's "happy dip" time on set.

It’s “happy dip” time on set.

What did the cast and crew look forward to most?

“The sandwiches,” she says, without hesitation. “If I didn’t bring sandwiches out three hours into the day… it just wasn’t an option. It’s all they talked about. I still get messages on Facebook about them. My combination of ingredients, it stands out. Whether it’s cranberry mustard, or capers in the tuna salad, everything is gourmet, always fresh, and healthy.

“Typically, crafty is a lot of sweets and candy and that’s just not what the crew wants or needs. So I always have fresh fruits and veggies and gluten-free options. A health-conscious table covers the whole crew.”V__EE0B

She started the production working out of a hollowed-out van, but just two weeks into filming she bought a motorhome that was already set up for craft services. With air conditioning and a sitting area, the motorhome became a refuge for cast and crew.

“I always said, ‘what goes on in the crafty motorhome, stays in the crafty motorhome,’” says Panther-Renoud. “It was definitely a nice investment.”

Now back in Seattle, Panther-Renoud is working craft services on several commercials shooting in the area. As for the next season of Z Nation, the production will begin filming in Spokane in April.WP_20140924_16_33_07_Pro

When asked if she would work the second season, Panther-Renoud says, “I would go back, but I couldn’t do the entire show. It’s going to be 20 episodes instead of 13, and 8 months long instead of 5. I would probably work two weeks on and two weeks off until the summer.”

Whether she stays in Seattle for the summer or returns to feed the zombies, Panther-Renoud truly enjoys working craft services on productions.

“The kitchen is always set up in a different place; it’s always a different adventure,” she says. “I get the most beautiful views of sunrises and sunsets, and I get to do what I love: I get to take care of people, work with food, travel. I love what I do.

“I am so lucky and blessed to be in the niche that I’m in and I love it.”

To contact Justina Panther-Renoud, e-mail chefjustina@hotmail.com.

Washington Filmworks executive director Amy Lillard, NxNW founder Rich Cowan, and Washington Filmworks board members Greg Smith and Harry Sladich.

Washington Caps Fantastic Production Year

By Andrew Espe Washington Filmworks

Washington Filmworks is pleased to report we have just completed a successful shooting season. Not only have we seen the return of the network series in Washington State, but we also provided funding assistance to a new high-profile feature film.

Governor Inslee with Z Nation zombies.

Governor Inslee with Z Nation zombies.

One of our major projects this year was Z Nation, a zombie series airing on the Syfy Network from Go2 Digital Media and produced by Jodi Binstock, Steve Graham and Rich Cowan, and executive produced by Karl Schaefer. It tells the story of a group of heroes amidst the aftermath of a deadly zombie-pocalypse, and stars Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do!, Southland) and local actors Russell Hodgkinson, Pisay Pao and Nat Zang. Episodic series represent months of consistent work and well paying jobs—filming in the Spokane area from mid-May to August, the incentivized series created 12,000 worker days for Washington State cast and crew.

Hoodies that Filmworks' Amy Lillard found on her trip to Spokane.

Hoodies that Filmworks’ Amy Lillard found on her trip to Spokane.

One such crewmember, SFX make-up artist Shawn Shelton, had a very positive on-set experience while creating the zombies’ frightening appearance. “I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such talented professionals, old friends and new,” Shelton explains. “Over such a long period of time, we truly became a filmmaking family.”

Due to high ratings and buzzing fandom, Z Nation was renewed for a second season by Syfy.

The other major project was Captain Fantastic, one of the largest feature films in Filmworks history. The film is from Electric City Entertainment and produced by Lynette Howell and Jamie Patricof, and written and directed by Matt Ross (28 Hotel Rooms). It tells the story of a nature-dependent father (Viggo Mortensen, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) who assimilates back into society after living with his six kids in the Pacific Northwest woods for 10 years. The film is now in post-production and is scheduled to premiere in 2015.

Cindy Ryu (rep. of 32nd legislative district) with husband Cody Ryu and Captain Fantastic writer/director Matt Ross.

Cindy Ryu (rep. of 32nd legislative district) with husband Cody Ryu and Captain Fantastic writer/director Matt Ross.

Filming in Snohomish County, King County, and surrounding areas this past summer and fall, Captain Fantastic had an estimated 37 days of production and employed approximately 355 Washington resident cast, crew and local vendors.

2014 also capped off a full year of Commercialize Seattle, a campaign promoting and incentivizing the Seattle region as a commercial production destination. More than 90 regional production companies and agencies participate in the program, as 33 individual spots showcase their skills and unique work. Additionally, Commercialize Seattle has housed nine incentive projects with over $7.8 million in economic impact.

The latest Washington Filmworks Innovation Lab cycle also occurred this fall. $75,000 in funding assistance was allocated to three projects (This Brute Land Virginia, Wallflower, and War Room) that are currently in pre-production and scheduled to film soon. The Filmworks Innovation Lab is designed to invest in the future filmmakers of our local creative community and original storytelling that capitalizes on emerging technologies.

Washington Filmworks executive director Amy Lillard, NxNW founder Rich Cowan, and Washington Filmworks board members Greg Smith and Harry Sladich.

Washington Filmworks executive director Amy Lillard, NxNW founder Rich Cowan, and Washington Filmworks board members Greg Smith and Harry Sladich.

We take pride in all these accomplishments, but we are also looking ahead to 2015.

With the past year’s unprecedented success, we are currently working with partners to determine the feasibility of additional funding for the state film office and production incentive program. Stay tuned to our blog and newsletter for our Legislative Awareness Campaign, launching soon to help the film community’s voice get heard this upcoming legislative session.

Thank you to all our community and industry partners who helped make 2014 a rousing and inspiring success for Washington Filmworks! We count on your passion and support as we head into 2015 for another incredible and exciting year.

On the set of Redwood Highway.

Southern Oregon Graces Screens Big and Small in 2014 Like Never Before

On the set of Redwood Highway.

On the set of Redwood Highway.

By Leah Gibson Southern Oregon Film and Media (SOFaM)

The first narrative film shot in Southern Oregon was all the way back in 1914. It was a 44-minute silent film called Grace’s Visit to the Rogue River Valley. The film featured Broadway actress Grace Fiero alongside a cast of Southern Oregonians. The purpose of the film, shot entirely with a hand-operated Ernemann 35mm camera, was to promote the area for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. A copy of the film is archived in the Southern Oregon Historical Society located in Medford, Oregon, and is available on DVD.

Flash forward 100 years, and the film industry in Southern Oregon is still going strong, having hosted well over 100 feature films, short films, television episodes and more (view a partial list at www.filmsouthernoregon.org/pages/list-of-films). What brings all these productions to the area? For starters, Southern Oregon is renowned for its beautiful and diverse landscapes, from rugged coast to lush valleys, from green forests to high deserts. Add to that four distinct seasons, none of them extreme, dozens of small towns filled with quaint neighborhoods, historic downtowns, and some of the nicest inhabitants you’d ever want to meet. The region is replete with great outdoor and indoor activities: hiking, biking, rafting, skiing, wine tasting, theater-going, fine dining, and art galleries.

Access to this virtual paradise couldn’t be easier. Conveniently located halfway between San Francisco and Portland and bisected by Interstate 5, it’s easy to reach by car. Medford/Jackson County Airport makes Southern Oregon easy to reach by air, as well, with direct flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

But what is that secret ingredient that makes this region truly special in the world of film and media? It’s the numerous film industry professionals and services that call Southern Oregon home. From directors to production assistants, from grip trucks to wardrobe rentals, productions can find just about everything they need for a successful production. And that includes an incredibly talented community of actors, attracted to the region by its award-winning theatre companies.

With all of these advantages, Southern Oregon’s popularity as a filmmaking location for the past 100 years is easy to see. Celebrating this centennial is the fact that Southern Oregon graced more screens big and small in 2014 than ever before, with three nationally released feature films that shot entirely or in part in Southern Oregon, several TV episodes, and many commercials and corporate videos.

Redwood Highway was released nationwide in April 2014 and starred Tom Skerritt and Shirley Knight. The film focuses on one woman’s 80-mile journey walking from the Rogue Valley to the coast along Highway 199, also known as the Redwood Highway. The locally financed film was made by the team of filmmakers and crewmembers who made Calvin Marshall, released in 2010 and also shot entirely in Southern Oregon. In Redwood Highway, moviegoers were introduced to many of the region’s lesser known communities and attractions, such as Cave Junction, Lake Selma, Great Cats World Park, It’s a Burl Woodshop, the redwoods of Jedidiah Smith State Park, and Whaleshead Beach and Harris Beach State Parks, just to name a few.

Immediately following that release was the latest film by critically acclaimed indie filmmaker Kelly Reichardt: Night Moves, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard. This dark thriller tells a cautionary tale of eco-activists who get in over their heads to protest the damming of a local river. The film shot all over Southern Oregon, including Ashland, Medford, the Applegate region, and Lake of the Woods. After gracing the big screen at festivals and theaters across the U.S., both Redwood Highway and Night Moves are now available on DVD and online.

Filming Brother in Laws in Southern Oregon. Photo by Steven Silton

Filming Brother in Laws in Southern Oregon. Photo by Steven Silton

Culminating this banner year was the much-anticipated film Wild. Shot all over Oregon, Wild exposed viewers around the nation and the world to the extraordinary beauty of Oregon’s wilds, such as Crater Lake National Park and the unforgettable sights along the Pacific Crest Trail. In Southern Oregon, Wild shot right in the heart of Ashland at three locations, including its signature gathering spot, Lithia Plaza. Even though quite the list of Hollywood actors has shot in Ashland throughout the year, the town was abuzz with star Reese Witherspoon there. Wild brought most of its crew and cast wherever it filmed, but employed many Southern Oregon film professionals for its prep and shoot in Ashland.

The small screen is also benefiting in 2014 from what Southern Oregon has to offer. The independent locally produced film By God’s Grace, much of it shot in the beautiful heritage town of Jacksonville, is currently for sale in large retail stores and online. The reality makeover shows Hotel Hell and Restaurant: Impossible both came to the area to improve a couple local businesses. Budweiser filmed one of its winter holiday commercials in Southern Oregon. Other national, regional and local commercials for TV and web—for companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Motorcycle Superstore, Husky Liners, Asante Health Systems, Sauce Labs and many more—used Southern Oregon as their backdrop and local professionals for their crew and cast.

It’s already looking like 2015 will show no sign of slowing down. Four feature productions—Black Road, Brother in Laws, Besetment and Courage of Two—which all shot in 2014, will be released in 2015, and we’re sure to have a busy year in TV, shorts, commercials and web content. This continuing discovery and growth of Southern Oregon for culture, adventure and now filmmaking brings an excitement for wonderful things to come and kicks off another century of putting Southern Oregon on big and small screens everywhere.

Leah Gibson is a freelance special effects makeup artist and the Executive Assistant to Southern Oregon Film and Media. For information on filming in Southern Oregon, visit www.filmsouthernoregon.org.

Runestone12

Road’s End Films Celebrates One Year in Oregon

Soundstage2

By Stephanie Hoover  & Crystal Foley Staff Writers

Beautiful panoramic vistas, warmer temperatures and a better lifestyle drew the crew of Road’s End Films from their original location in Colorado to their current space in Wilsonville, Oregon.

Sterling Fiock, the production designer and director of operations for the studio, said their location 20 minutes south of Portland has so much to offer, with the beach, mountains and major cities within an hour’s drive.

“There’s a lot of things going on here, and that’s why we built the studio. Because the studios you hear from, they’re booked out, you can’t get in,” Fiock said. “So we built ours a little further south, because we don’t want to compete with anyone; we want to collaborate and increase, not take away.”Runestone12

Being in Oregon also allows them to tap into a large local talent pool, as they did for one of their latest projects, a series titled Runestone.

The Proof of Concept features 23 actors and 60 skill sets, mostly locals, who helped shoot on location, write scripts, build props, and create costuming. Casting was done by local casting director Lori Lewis.

“We just hope to be able to build some bigger stars out of the fantastic talent base that’s here in the local area,” Fiock said.Runestone13

The saga follows Norsemen, or Vikings, as they cross over the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Northwest in a journey that details their interactions with colorful local tribes. While the show is not based upon a single event, it is historically inspired and draws from lore in both the Norse and indigenous local culture.

Runestone came out of the team at Road’s End Films’ desire to take advantage of the resources they already had,  Fiock said, which led them to come up with a few different historically-based story ideas.

“It is something that we could film here in the Pacific Northwest that was new and involving talent that we had available here, along with crew and equipment,”  Fiock said. “So we created a few storylines that we thought would be interesting and then we narrowed those down and fleshed them out until we came up with the Runestone series.”

Some of the beauty they relocated to Oregon for can be found in Runestone’s trailer, much of which was shot on the coast at Hug Point in Oswald West State Park over six days.  Fiock said this offered an interesting challenge, because the crew had about a six-hour window daily in which to shoot before the tide came in.Runestone9

Natural beauty and a wealth of local talent may top the list, but they are certainly not the only advantages to filming in Oregon, Fiock said.

“One of the reasons for being in Oregon is the financial incentives provided by the governor’s growth potential, which has been assisted by the OMPA (Oregon Media Production Association) organization that we are also part of,” he said.

While Road’s End Films is their passion, Intersect Video, their studio space, pays the bills, primarily through corporate commercial work. They also rent out their studio space, do creative context creation and video translation.

When building their studios,  Fiock said the team looked around other studios in the area to find their favorite qualities—and the ones they saw lacking—and combine them into their own.Soundstage5

The 6,500-square-foot facility features a 3,500-square-foot soundstage with the largest three-walled cyclorama publicly available in the Pacific Northwest. Other features include a two-wall cyclorama and a powered steel lighting grid.

One element Fiock said they’re particularly proud of might surprise you: Parking.

“[It’s] one thing that no one else has—and they can’t really say otherwise. You can’t get a crew there,” Fiock said, of other studios in the area. “Everyone has to park three or four blocks away and walk in. If we’re trying to shoot a production, there’s just no room.”Runestone11

However, Road’s End Films and their studio, Intersect Video, are able to bring in the entire production team.

“We can literally bring in a 40-foot RV into our soundstage and put it into our green screen because we have a 45-foot-long by 25-feet-deep green cyclorama,” Fiock said.

The studio is made up of four people on a day-to-day basis, which means they are often working 80-hour weeks. However, Fiock said it is a lot of fun.

“This is my social life. It’s such a family network in the local film crew,”  Fiock said. “It’s hard to get in, but once you get in, everyone knows you in some way in this huge network.”Runestone8

The team tapped into this local network for the Runestone series. A lot of research went into creating authentic costumes and props such as weaponry. To get the right effect, they used Wardrobe Design Studios out of Portland for the costumes and local artisans for the props. Special effects were also done locally, coordinated by Oregon-based Kai Shelton.

The series has not been picked up yet, however if it were to be, it would bring 100 to 140 jobs. They have a five-year story mark, with twelve episodes a season, meaning they would be in pre-production to post-production for six to nine months out of the year.

Road’s End Films has also produced four other shows and one feature-length film, and Fiock said he is hopeful the company will continue to help expand the local film scene.

“We’re tying into the community of the Pacific Northwest to try and add to the infrastructure of possibilities so that external based productions can come here and take advantage, so we can add jobs and maintain jobs for cast and crewmembers in the local area, who work the majority of the year,” Fiock said. “But we’re trying to get more work, more consistency for everybody.”

Z Nation Renewed

Photo by Oliver Irwin

Photo by Oliver Irwin

Zombie series will return to Spokane for season two

By Peyton Scheller, CTA, Communications Coordinator, Visit Spokane

Zombies are returning to Eastern Washington. That’s right; the folks at Syfy network have announced a second season renewal for the post-apocalyptic TV series, Z Nation.

For the Spokane region, this means more recognition and even deeper credibility as a destination for filmmakers.

Rich Cowan, CEO of North by Northwest—the company helping to produce Z Nation—is ecstatic about the second season renewal.

“The renewal shows that the network has faith in us… that we can deliver a great product, week to week,” said Cowan. “It’s different than a feature film, which is essentially a one-time project. With a TV series, we have many more opportunities to show the diversity of the region.”

And with everything from lush forests to vast wheat fields, urban buildings to historic neighborhoods, the Spokane region is as diverse as they come. This makes it extremely easy to replicate any scene, Cowan says, from a thriving metropolitan area… to zombie-ridden Middle America.

The second season renewal also means a greater economic impact for the Spokane community. With a strong workforce and deep acting pool, the TV series creates sustainable local jobs for hundreds of people. Plus, a portion of the working cast and crew travel from outside the region, boosting business for hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related entities.

“A lot of people don’t realize how the film and tourism industry correlate,” said Jeanna Hofmeister, Chief Marketing Officer at Visit Spokane and liaison to Washington Filmworks. “Not only does it generate dollars locally, it opens the eyes of outside film companies who may not have considered the Spokane region as a filming destination before.”

Cowan agrees, saying the second season Z Nation renewal is good news for other projects in the future. “Working on Z Nation has been a real breakthrough for us and the Spokane film industry. North by Northwest has a few things on the horizon right now and we hope the buzz about Z Nation will create more opportunities for us and the Spokane region in the future.”