“Chance favors the well-prepared.”
By Jennifer Yocom
Tue, February 9, 2010 1:32pm
When John Rogers, writer and creator of TNT’s Leverage, talked to Portlanders at this weekend’s Leverage Boot Camp, one quote especially stuck out to me. Borrowed from great scientist, Louis Pasteur, he said, “Chance favors the well-prepared.” I can’t remember whether John was referring to the perspective auditioners should keep when trying out for minor roles or to be an extra in Leverage, or if he was attributing it to what I’m thinking of: how do we build a film industry in Portland?
Either way, he’s right.
When I worked in direct marketing, we auditioned actors for photo shoots and infomercials (yes, I worked on infomercials). And when we found the right person, it wasn’t always because he or she met all the criteria we were considering, but possessed that X factor–an element or aspect of his or her personality or “look” that would connect with the relevant audience or acting team. Translated, even if you fit the profile on paper, you might not get the job. The purpose of the Leverage Boot Camp was to get folks as familiar with the TV series as possible, increasing their chances of getting a job with the production. And who’s needed? Athletic or burly men to play cops, security guards and thugs.
“I look at all these strong guys who have lost their manufacturing or construction jobs and think ‘If we could just teach them how to say a line or two and maybe how to do an easy fight scene, they could probably audition for the show,’” says Leverage casting director and local business owner Lana Veenker. “It may be very sporadic work, but nobody’s going to sneeze at a thousand bucks for a day’s salary. That could make the difference between a family covering its mortgage payment or not.”
“Background performers only make minimum wage,” she acknowledges, “but with overtime, a day’s work could help someone who is job hunting pay their cell phone bill or buy a few tanks of gas.”
The Oregonian reported, “In Oregon, which has an 11 percent unemployment rate, the recession has been particularly hard on male workers in traditionally male-dominated industries. At his State of the City speech last week, for example, Portland Mayor Sam Adams said ‘one in three Portlanders’ in the construction industry is currently out of work.”
While Veenker is trying to get the word out to unemployed construction workers that they may have additional options in a tough economy and helping them have the tools they need to succeed at the auditions, she’s also doing a significant service to our City as a whole. In order to continue to attract television series like Leverage to Portland, we’ve got to have a solid pipeline of talent for them to hire.
The state offers fantastic incentives to film production through the Governor’s Office of Film and Television and the City of Portland provides a one-stop resource for permitting through the Mayor’s Office of Film and Video, but Lana’s efforts are a also a key piece to the overall film and tv production ecology in Portland.
So, we’ll continue to work to recruit productions to town with incentive packages but remember, “Chance favors the well-prepared,” so thank you to all those that attended the Boot Camp and thank you, Lana Veenker.
And thank you, Arts & Culture Policy Director Jennifer Yokum, Mayor Adams and the City of Portland, for helping us build this green, clean, high-tech industry of the future!