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Film office wants a starring role

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

OregonFilm A film crew shooting the movie Burning Plain in Depoe Bay.

PORTLAND Oregon’s new head of the Governor’s Office of Film and Television wants more money to lure out-of-state productions.

Vince Porter, executive of the agency, plans to ask legislators this session to expand the Oregon Production Investment Fund, which is currently capped at $5 million. The annual fund is a pool of money that offers cash rebates to producers who spend at least $750,000 in the state.

Porter expected the fund to be tapped out as of mid-December, just six months into the agency’s fiscal year. When the fund dries up, so does his ability to secure productions in Oregon, he says. Already four cable companies wanting to shoot pilot programs in Oregon this year decided against doing buisiness here because of a lack of incentive money. “We have to say, ‘Can it wait until next year?’” he says.

Winning a production often comes down to which state offers the sweetest incentives, a game that has attracted some national criticism recently for being abused by producers and states at taxpayers’ expense.

An economic impact report commissioned by the office concluded out-of-state productions directly contributed $41 million to Oregon’s economy, and $22 million in wages for 669 jobs in 2007.

Asking for more money in this economy might be a tough sell, but Porter believes the economic benefits are on his side. “The efforts we put forth bring jobs to Oregon,” he says. “That’s not something every agency can say.”

Maybe if the state offers juicier incentives, a film like Mr. Brooks (2007), which in script takes place in Portland, would have been shot in Portland instead of Louisiana. Louisiana offers up to 35% in tax credit incentives.  

Oregon also is attractive because of its gloom and rain. The 2008 vampire flick Twilight was shot in St. Helens and Carver. “That’s an easy sell for us,” Porter says.


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