“In France Michelle is a Man’s Name,” the short film by Em Weinstein that we recently cast, has been awarded the 2020 Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Narrative Short at Outfest, the largest and oldest film festival–of any kind–in Los Angeles, and the preeminent and most widely-recognized LGBTQ film festival in the world.
Here’s what the Programming Coordinator said: “I am absolutely delighted to tell you that our U.S. Narrative Shorts jury fell in love with the film and has awarded IN FRANCE MICHELLE IS A MAN’S NAME with the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Narrative Short. Congratulations!! In addition to the honor itself, this prize officially designates the film as an Academy Award-qualifying title for the category of Best Live Action Short Film.”
A HUGE CONGRATS to the filmmakers, cast and crew!
A full article about Outfest’s 2020 award winners appears in The Advocate. Free The Work also published a great piece about the project.
For more information and updates, please visit the film’s website and follow it on Instagram at @infrancefilm.
“In France Michelle is a Man’s Name” shot in Portland, The Dalles, and surrounding areas last fall. The mostly-Northwest cast included–among others–the talented actors below, who were all hired by our office. BRAVO!
Portland’s own Lana Veenker is celebrating 20 years as a casting director! In that time, she’s made a name for herself both here and abroad — having just returned from the Rome Film Festival where she rubbed elbows with Italian film royalty. Lana joined us to look back at the last 20 years of film and TV productions in Oregon. For more information about Lana Veenker, check her out on IMDb.
Many thanks to the team at AM Northwest for helping us celebrate this milestone! We’re so grateful for our community.
Kicking off the summer season with new connections and old friends
Cast Iron Studios hosted an intimate happy hour this week, celebrating a few new members of the Oregon Media and Production Association. This select group was joined by the Cast Iron team, along with a handful of studio friends, to connect, discuss the latest up-and-coming production buzz, and enjoy some delicious bites and bevs!
Thanks to everyone who joined in on the fun and conversation. Cheers to a new season with plenty of exciting, fresh projects barrelling down, or shall we say ‘shooting’ down the local production pipeline!
Z&Z will have a one-week theatrical run in Los Angeles, opening May 17th. Join some of the cast and crew for opening night, or any time that week. The film will run four times a day at the Laemmle Noho Theater, times TBA.
WATCH THE FILM ON VOD, PPV or DVD
Can’t make it to LA? Z&Z comes out on DVD and VOD/PPV in mid-May. Like the project’s Facebook page for updates.
Thanks to TV series like “Portlandia” and “The Librarians,” show business is still booming in Oregon and there are still new projects in our future. Casting Director Lana Veenker stopped by KATU’s Afternoon Live on March 28th to fill in Tra’Rénee on the latest.
While we might not see another Grimm for a while, there are lots of productions coming down the pike in Oregon, from cable series (including The Librarians Season 4), to projects for newer digital platforms (think Hulu, YouTube Red, Amazon and the like), to independent features and commercials.
That’s not even counting the magic happening over at LAIKA and other animation companies, our thriving video game production scene, nor the forays into virtual reality and augmented reality, all taking place right here in Oregon.
In all, we’d say that in terms of the entertainment industry, the future is bright for Portland and the whole state!
‘The Librarians’ will soon be the only series being filmed in Portland.
A mystery worthy of Grimm hung over a discussion of the Oregon film and video industry last Wednesday morning.
To be solved, what is the next major TV series to be shot in Portland after the popular supernatural thriller on NBC wraps up its sixth and final season this year?
Lobbyist Janice Shokrian, executive director of the Oregon Media Production Association, said she has some clues but is sworn to secrecy. Although Shokrian said some new shows are in the works, the next Portland-based one might not be a conventional seasonal network show like Grimm or Portlandia, the cult comedy nearing the end of its run on IFC.
“Traditional series are not something that many companies want to invest in anymore,” said Shokrian, explaining that one-time and short-run series on such subscription-based media platforms as Hulu and YouTube Red are becoming more and more popular.
The question of what follows Grimm and Portlandia in Portland is not merely one about entertainment options. As the Portland Business Alliance learned at its monthly breakfast forum, such productions pump millions of dollars into the state, regional and local economies every year. Film and TV production companies have spent over $350 million on wages, supplies and services in Oregon over the past year and a half, said Shokrian, whose organization was formed in 1982 to advocate for more such productions in the state.
Lana Veenker and Oregon Film Commissioner Tim Williams recently sat down with Mary Loos from KATU to talk about Oregon’s growing film industry. Grimm and Portlandia have ended, but their success, along with Oregon’s reputation and film incentive, make the possibility of higher quality productions in the future probable.
The film centers on two young car valets (Robert Sheehan and Carlito Olivero) who use their business as a front to burglarize the houses of their unsuspecting patrons. Life is good for the petty thieves until they target the wrong house, changing their lives forever.
Cast Iron Studios was responsible for casting around 20 of the supporting roles, and Director Dean Devlin, a longtime fan of shooting in Oregon, couldn’t stop raving to us about the quality of his Northwest cast.
Kudos to all of our actors! We can’t wait to see the finished product.
Thanks to TV shows like “The Librarians” and “Portlandia,” show business is booming in Oregon. Casting Director Lana Veenker stopped by AM Northwest on March 30th to talk to Helen Raptis about what types of productions could be coming to the state soon.
Lana visited Carl Wolfson of XRAY FM’s Carl in the Morning on 11/20 to talk about the Oregon Actor Awards, scheduled for November 23rd, 2015 at Portland Center Stage, and about Oregon’s vibrant film and television production scene. Have a listen:
When TV and film productions come to town, job openings come too! Casting Director Lana Veenker stopped by AM Northwest on Wednesday, June 10, 2015, to fill us in on what’s going on now, and possible job opportunities too!
If you attended Portland’s Wild cast and crew screening on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at the Hollywood Theatre, or just want to see fabulous photos from the event, this is the blog post for you! This is just a sampling of photos taken on the night. You can find the full gallery of photos here.
Photo Credits: Nathan Coltrane & amber smith with SpokenRAD
Portland Film Festival
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
5:30 pm-7:00 pm
1624 NW Glisan St
Portland, OR 97209
Panel moderated by Alexandra Blatt and Amy Conway. This is the monthly meetup for the Women In Film non-profit in Portland, OR. Anyone interested in film should attend and learn from the over 50 years of experience from the panelists. Space is limited. RSVP today.
Lana Veenker has played a role in some of the biggest film and TV productions to work their way through Oregon.
As president of Portland-based Cast Iron Studios, Veenker served as casting director to NBC’s “Grimm” and TNT Network’s “Leverage,” as well as feature films including “Twilight” and “The Road.” More recently she’s working on the film version of the Cheryl Strayed book, “Wild,” that recently wrapped up filming around Oregon and starring Reese Witherspoon, and “The Librarians,” the latest TNT series by “Leverage” producer Dean Devlin.
Now she’s hoping to attract investors to finance projects featuring Oregon writers, actors, crew and locations.
“I’d like a slate of projects to take advantage of all the benefits that Oregon has: good crews, a good talent base, amazing locations, lower prices,” she said. “I’m trying to find some great, socially progressive stories that we could turn into movies and keep people busy here.”
Veenker spent much of the past year vetting potential screenplays, fielding as many as 150 scripts and coming away impressed at the writing talent in Oregon.
She’s taken strategy meetings in Los Angeles. As one of the only U.S.-based members of the International Casting Directors Network, she’s also hoping to lean on her global contacts.
“To be able to draw on all those things to do projects in Oregon hasn’t been done before,” she said.
Many of those calls have been to assess the types of projects that might spur interest in Oregon.
How much she’ll raise and where it will come from remains an open question.
“Some of the funding will come from Oregon, some from overseas and bigger markets,” she said. “We want to keep as much of it local as possible because that gives us the leverage to keep the projects local.”
Veenker is the subject of the Business Journal’s PBJ Interview, which will appear in this week’s print edition, available to subscribers on Friday.
The 10-page article features Oregon location scout Roger Faires, Portlandia producer David Cress, the Oscar-nominated animation company LAIKA, prominent animation-industry players Will Vinton, Jim Blashfield, Joan Gratz, Joanna Priestley and Bill Plympton, directors Gus Van Sant and Todd Haynes, Shelly Midthun of the City of Portland, Ray DiCarlo, Chel White and David Daniels of Bent Image Lab, actors Carrie Brownstein, Fred Armisen, Danny Bruno, Robert Blanche, Diego Velazquez and Gabe Nevins, and Vince Porter of the Governor’s Office of Film and Television, among others.
His segment on Cast Iron Studios is excerpted below.
Cast Iron Studios
For live-action needs, many filmmakers and TV producers call Lana Veenker, founder and owner of Cast Iron Studios. The onetime stage actor, originally from Portland, learned casting in Europe, where her employers included a London casting office. When she returned to Portland in 1999, she thought it would be just a pit stop on the way to a bigger city, but “people found out I had done casting and started hiring me,” she says. “Next thing you know, I’ve got a company.”
As casting directors, Veenker and her associates find actors who fit specified parts, then represent producers in contract negotiations with the talent agents who represent the performers. “We’re like the buffer between the creative artists and the money people,” Veenker says. Her firm draws primarily from talent-agency rosters and from its own database of unrepresented local actors, but occasionally uses other methods, such as when it turned to social media to find cast members for Van Sant’s Paranoid Park. Van Sant wanted “real kids,” not movie stars, for his film focused on a high school skateboarder, Veenker says. A post on MySpace invited teenagers ranging from skaters to honor roll students, from shy kids to class clowns, to attend cattle call auditions. The posting drew 2,971 Portland-area teens. One of them, skateboarder Gabe Nevins, landed the lead role.
Generally, out-of-town productions will come to Portland with a few celebrities attached, then hire everyone else locally, Veenker says. The requirements for each role are different and go beyond acting. A director’s preferences, the physical stature of the stars the other actors will play alongside, and stunt ability can all be considerations.
A typical episode of a TV series such as Grimm, which Cast Iron Studios handles, could involve five to 20 roles. A feature film could involve 30 or more roles. In recent years, Veenker’s company has cast the gothic phenomenon Twilight; the Harrison Ford film Extraordinary Measures (including casting Portland’s Diego Velazquez in the role of a son); and the romantic comedy Management, starring Jennifer Aniston. Two Portland actors her company cast for Grimm—Danny Bruno (as a beaverlike refrigerator repairman) and Robert Blanche (as a Portland police officer)—have seen their roles evolve into recurring parts. Television commercials for companies such as Nike, Intel, Apple and Facebook keep her staff busy between film and television work.
When not casting, Veenker travels internationally to speak about the industry, and locally, she lobbies legislators in Oregon’s capital of Salem. The industry generally has strong bipartisan support, she says, especially when legislators are able to visit a set. “It’s not just these Hollywood types drinking lattes,” she says. “It’s a lot of local carpenters and electricians. Good jobs.”
Many thanks to Eric Gold for his thorough coverage of Oregon Film & TV!