With more than $110 million in production spend, 2011 was a record-shattering year for Oregon film and television. But never content to rest on its laurels, the state’s film community continues to grow and attract major productions in 2012.
Here’s a look at some recent Oregon production projects:
Wheel of Fortune
The popular game show was on location in Portland from March 30 through April 3. Pat Sajak, Vanna White, and the entire Wheel of Fortune crew filmed in the Rose City for the first time ever, taping four weeks’ worth of episodes at the Oregon Convention Center.
The process of getting Wheel to Portland was quite a long one. According to a Portland Business Journal article by Web editor Suzanne Stevens, the effort began in 2002. The show had recently aired from Seattle, and Portland’s ABC affiliate KATU began campaigning for the city to host the show.
Producers scouted the area three different times over the years before deciding to film in the Oregon Convention Center. In May 2011, Vanna White and a small crew came to Oregon to film on-location bumpers at locations such as Multnomah Falls, Pioneer Square, and Pittock Mansion.
Finally, in late March, the entire Wheel cast and crew—totaling in the hundreds—arrived in Portland to film its 20 episodes, which are set to air in May.
TNT’s Leverage began filming season five in early March.
This is the fourth season that the show, which is produced by Dean Devlin’s Electric Entertainment, has filmed in Portland. According to estimates, by the end of this season, the show will have spent more than $100 million in-state.
In season five, not only is the production moving to a larger soundstage—a newly-renovated, 60,000-square-foot production space in Clackamas County—but the gang is also officially moving to Portland. In previous seasons, the action has been set in Boston but filmed in Portland—but this time around, the show will be set in Stumptown. The Oregon production community is eager to see what this change will mean for the show.
Cast and crew are currently shooting the 15-episode season, which will premiere July 15 with an episode featuring guest star Cary Elwes.
In mid-March, it was officially announced that Grimm has been renewed for another season, and it has been confirmed that the show will return to Portland, according to executive producers and writers David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf.
The NBC series is currently wrapping up production on its first season, and at press time there had been no announcement as to when cast and crew will return to begin filming the 22-episode second season.
March was the month of choice for TV series to announce their renewal! The third season of IFC sketch-comedy show Portlandia, starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, will film later this year and premiere in January 2013.
The breakout hit has scored in the ratings and beyond, spawning a sold-out West Coast tour and a book deal for its two stars.
Also coming to IFC this year are two Portlandia specials: Portlandia: The Brunch Special, set to air this summer, and a 30-minute as-yet-untitled Portlandia holiday special.
Feature Films Set to Premiere
In addition to Oregon’s burgeoning TV production industry, feature films continue to shoot in the area. Two standouts are from homegrown talent—Cell Count, a thriller from Portland-based filmmakers the Brothers Freeman, and LAIKA’s stop-motion animated film, ParaNorman.
Cell Count, which premieres in May at the Fantaspoa Film Festival in Brazil, was the third of three feature films shot in 2011 from the Brothers Freeman/Wooden Frame Productions that utilized the Indigenous Oregon Production Investment Fund (iOPIF). This incentive program provides rebates of 20 percent of goods and services and 10 percent of Oregon labor for films produced by Oregon filmmakers who spend a minimum of $75,000, but no more than $750,000, on their project. Over 50 cast and crew for the film were residents of Oregon.
“This incentive is why we are able to make feature films in the state that we love,” said filmmaker Todd Freeman in a statement. “Oregon has diverse actors, locations, and crew abilities and without this incentive we would have to consider making movies in another state.”
Another Oregon-produced film set to premiere this year is ParaNorman, from animation house LAIKA.
The “3D stop-motion animated comedy thriller adventure film” is set for international release on August 17 and will be distributed by Focus Features. The voice cast includes Anna Kendrick, Leslie Mann, Casey Affleck, John Goodman, and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the title character, “Norman.”
Similar to LAIKA’s 2009 hit Coraline, ParaNorman is a slightly-dark, stop-motion animated film for the whole family. The story is about a misunderstood boy who takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.