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.

JASON SHUFFLER


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Editor's Letter: Power Play

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There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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