Timothy Hutton, center, and the Leverage cast. Cast and crew were paid their per diems in $2 bills to make the show’s impact on Portland’s economy visible. There are 75,000 $2 bills now floating around the city.
© PHOTOGRAPHER MICHAEL MULLER, TM & TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION. A TIME WARNER COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
The TV show Leverage has brought Portland more than fame and the fun factor of having Timothy Hutton walking around downtown. It put $20 million into the local economy.
The show’s second season, which filmed in Portland in 2009, employed 397 Oregonians for 150,000 hours, and contracted for services with more than 400 vendors and agencies.
Leverage is filming and airing its third season now, and plans to stay in Portland as long as it’s signed for more episodes and state incentives are still available. The show’s producers filmed season one in Los Angeles and decided to move for season two. The production moved to Portland instead of Vancouver, B.C., because of Portland’s friendliness, local talent and great shooting sites.
Leverage got almost $4 million in rebates for the more than $20 million of goods, services and labor it purchased during its second season, according to the Governor’s Office of Film and Television. The state gives a 20% rebate on goods and services purchased, and a 16.2% rebate for salaries paid to Oregonians.
Leverage’s executive producer Dean Devlin says there’s also a “trickle-up” impact when businesses contracted with Leverage spend their cash. “It really is the ultimate stimulus program.”
David Besaw of 52nd Ave Hardware & Business Supply says he was looking at cutting staff and health insurance, but a Leverage contract for the third season saved his business. “We were able to hire two more full-time employees,” says Besaw.
“In some cities people are jaded with filming,” says Devlin. “In Portland, people bring us milk and cookies.”