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Friday, April 25, 2014

Portland casting director raising funds to finance Oregon-made films

by admin

A peek at what has been happening behind the scenes at Cast Iron Studios, thanks to the Portland Business Journal.

By Erik Siemers
Apr 24, 2014

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.

lana-veenker-cast-iron-studios-2*600xx5201-3467-0-5
Photo Credit: Cathy Cheney

“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.

Link to original article.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cast Iron Studios in Horizon’s in-flight magazine

by ranielle

In the June 2013 Horizon edition of the Alaska Airlines Magazine, Eric Gold explores the Portland locations and local businesses that play an important part in the film and television industry.

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.

Screen shot 2013-06-05 at 12.27.42 PM

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.

Danny Bruno

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.”

Portland's Attributes

Many thanks to Eric Gold for his thorough coverage of Oregon Film & TV!

Link to PDF of ‘Supporting Roles’ article.

Link to full magazine.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Oregon Actors: Urgent Call to Action

by admin

If you’re an actor in Oregon and you want more film and TV productions to shoot in our state, we need your help right now, so get out those headshots and resumes and a Sharpie!

Please follow the instructions below and share this with all the Oregon actors you know.

This is in support of our efforts to expand OPIF, the Oregon Production Incentive Fund, which is responsible for the huge increase in production in Oregon over the past few years. If our bill passes (HB2267), the fund will DOUBLE, meaning twice as much work for all of us. Time is of essence.

1. First, go to http://ompa.org/events and RSVP for our Industry Day on Thursday, May 2nd at the State Capitol.

Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 1.42.44 PM

This is the crux of our campaign to increase Oregon’s film incentive program and we need a HUGE turnout to demonstrate to legislators how badly we want it.

Clear your schedule and plan to stay the whole day, if you possibly can. If not, at least plan to be on the steps of the Capitol Building in Salem on May 2nd from 12:45-1:45 pm for our rally and photo op. We need the crowd to be MASSIVE.  Be there and bring friends, but be sure to RSVP first.

2. Get out TWO headshots and resumes and TWO manila envelopes.

3. Address one of the envelopes to:

Senator Richard Devlin
900 Court St. NE, S-211
Salem, OR 97301

4. Address the other to:

Representative Peter Buckley
900 Court St. NE, H-272
Salem, OR 97301

5. Make sure each of your headshots is stapled back-to-back to your resume.

6. Hand write a truthful personal note about how you have benefited from film & TV production in Oregon.

Write on the resumes themselves or on sticky notes attached to the resumes.

Examples:

  • “Thanks to Grimm, I got braces for my kid. Please support HB2267.”
  • “I’m still receiving residual checks from Twilight. Please support HB2267 and expand our incentive program.”
  • “I haven’t had to move to Hollywood, thanks to Oregon’s film incentive program. Please support HB2267.”
  • “I want to work more in my home state. Please support HB2267 and expand OPIF.”
  • “2012 was Oregon’s busiest year yet for film & TV production. Let’s keep building this clean, green, creative, high-tech industry.”
  • “Look at all the credits on my resume from projects that shot in Oregon! Help build the momentum and expand OPIF. Support HB2267.”

 

OPIF Resume

IMPORTANT: IF YOU LIVE OR WORK IN THE DISTRICTS OF SENATOR DEVLIN (Tualatin and surrounding areas) OR REPRESENTATIVE BUCKLEY (Ashland and surrounding areas), PLEASE SAY SO ON THE APPROPRIATE NOTE.

Devlin’s District Map:

Devlin Map

Buckley’s District Map:

Buckley Map

7. Put one headshot/resume in each envelope.

8. Put $1.12 in postage on each envelope and MAIL THEM NOW.

Senator Devlin and Representative Buckley are co-chairs of the Oregon Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee. Their support of the expansion is critical. We want to bombard their offices with hundreds of headshots and resumes prior to Industry Day on May 2nd.

9. Share this blog post with all of the Oregon actors you know, via social media, email and word of mouth.

Click the share button, copy and paste the URL, or get on the phone now.

THANKS FOR YOUR HELP. Together we can blow the lid off of Oregon production, creating more jobs for all.

PS: If you’re not an actor, but you work in the Oregon film & television industry, you can mail letters to the same effect to Devlin and Buckley. Include your production resume and a personal note. Be sure to mention if your home or business are in their districts.

Let’s do this!

 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

KINK FM on Oregon film & our workshops for kids

by admin

Tune into Sheila Hamilton‘s March 26th interview with Casting Director Lana Veenker on 101.9 KINK FM about Oregon’s film and TV industry, its film production incentive program, and Cast Iron Studios upcoming workshops for kids and parents:

To register for our “Acting Like a Pro” workshops featuring LA Kids’ Casting Director Christine Scowley, click here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Think Hollywood is the only place for an acting career? Think again.

by admin

Regional markets are booming, while production flees Los Angeles.

What does this mean for actors? Find out in Lana’s latest Backstage column!

Think Hollywood Is The Only Place For An Acting Career? Think Again.

By Lana Veenker, CSA | Posted Oct. 10, 2012, 3 p.m.

To the chagrin of many a Hollywood-based actor, production is booming in regional markets. Even with Governor Brown’s recent extension of California’s film tax credits, it’s likely that productions will continue to shoot in incentive states like Louisiana, Michigan and Oregon, as they can be easier on producers’ bottom lines and provide fresh new locations as a backdrop.

What does this mean for actors? Well, if you live in L.A. and you’re not a celebrity, good luck getting cast on a series based halfway across the country. Producers shooting on location often hire only the “name” guest stars out of L.A., with all the smaller guest and co-star roles going to regional actors.

If you’re a skilled actor in a regional production hub, however, your employability just might skyrocket.

Link to full article.

What do you think? Have you had better luck working in L.A. or in a smaller market? Let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

‘Leverage’ co-creator John Rogers on shooting in Oregon

by admin

John Rogers, the brilliant creator of Transformers and the hit series “Leverage” talks about his love of Portland and the reasons Oregon is perfectly suited to become Hollywood north (without the traffic jams and paparazzi.)

 

 

Interview with Sheila Hamilton on 101.9 KINK.FM.

Johnrogersleverage by kinkfm

*For a discussion of how OPIF (the Oregon Production Incentive Fund), is creating jobs and benefiting local businesses, jump to 09:43!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is MTV’s The Real World coming to Portland?

by admin

As the rumors continue to fly, Fox 12‘s Sophie Soong dropped in on Eryn Goodman of Cast Iron Studios to hear her thoughts on why the popular MTV series might be considering the Rose City for its home base next season.

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – It’s becoming more and more common to see Pacific Northwest landmarks in TV shows and movies — Portland’s list of silver and small screen credentials is growing: Untraceable, Gone, Leverage and Portlandia, just to name a few.

And let’s not forget Twilight.

“I think they help put us on the map a little bit, in the bigger picture in the future and what not. And ever since having television shows come here, it’s really picked up a lot,” Eryn Goodman of Cast Iron Studios said.

“We have so many kinds of locations. You can shoot ocean, you can shoot the desert, you can shoot the Gorge, you can shoot the city, we can look like a lot of different places which is fantastic,” she explained.

And that could be why MTV is possibly thinking of putting its next season of The Real World here.

Link to full article.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Another series to shoot in Portland?

by admin

Word on the street is that MTV’s “Real World” may be coming to Portland to shoot its next season here: yet another sign that Oregon is becoming a real player in the film and video industry, creating family-wage jobs and bringing much-needed revenue to the state.

KOIN‘s Ken Boddie stopped by Cast Iron Studios to get our take on the rumors.

(Note that contrary to the transcript, we do not cast Portlandia at our offices.)

PORTLAND, Ore. — MTV’s longest-running reality show could soon tape a season in Portland, according to a local entertainment blogger who has it “on good authority.”

If details are finalized, “The Real World Portland” would be the fourth network show being shot in the Rose City.

“Every time a production decides to shoot up here it’s great for the state because it means jobs,” said Lana Veenker, a casting director from Cast Iron Studios in Portland. “…We’ve got three TV series already shooting here, and hopefully some more movies and commercials and things coming throughout the summer.”

Link to full article.

Want more jobs like these to come to Oregon?  Write or call your legislators and let them know that you support the expansion of OPIF (Oregon Production Incentive Fund).  Film and video production means shutter-ready jobs across the state!

 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What’s New in Portland Film & TV? AM Northwest Finds Out.

by admin

Great to see KATU’s Dave Anderson again (after his star turn on Leverage episode 408, which will air in a few weeks!) on this morning’s AM Northwest.

Portland is buzzing with TV and Film productions. Casting Director Lana Veenker stopped by to tell us what’s happening now…and how we might get in on the action.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We all have jobs because of Oregon’s film incentives!

by admin

Check out this great video from the set of Leverage to see the broad range of people that a TV series or film employs on a day-to-day basis. People from all walks of life, from chefs and electricians to accountants, drivers and make-up artists.

We all have our jobs, because Oregon’s successful film incentive program helps to attract productions like Leverage to our state.

Whereas the rest of the economy is flagging, 2011 is projected to be the busiest year ever for Oregon film, creating clean, green, high-paying jobs in all sectors, all across our state.

Let’s keep the momentum going and continue to fund OPIF (Oregon Film Investment Fund) at the levels needed to meet this increased demand!

We have a proven track record, and more productions banging on our doors than current incentive levels can accommodate, so we need our legislators to fully fund OPIF.

Say yes to JOBS!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Show business is ‘on a roll’ in Oregon

by admin

Ken Boddie talks to Vince Porter, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Film and Television, and Lana Veenker, about the state of the film industry in Oregon.

Show business is ‘on a roll’ in Oregon
KOIN 6 News
March 1, 2011
by Ken Boddie

Portlandia.

Leverage.

Twilight.

They’re just three of the television and film productions made right here in Oregon; and there’s more where that came from.

Film and television in Oregon is headed for a record year in 2011. A major network, NBC Universal, is committed to shooting a pilot in Oregon based on the Grimm’s fairy tales, and several more projects are coming that could put hundreds of Oregonians to work.

Leverage is into its third year–they just started shooting this week up on Mount Hood,” said Vince Porter, director of the Governor’s Office of Film and Television.

Portlandia caught the imagination of enough people that they’re coming back for a second season this summer,” said Porter.

“We can say that 2011 will be the biggest year we’ve ever had in the state.”

At any given time there are about 13,000 Oregonians working in the film and television industry.

Since 2007, producers have spent about $178 million in Oregon, with an overall economic impact of $350 million.

Those numbers are expected to grow to $275 million and about $500 million, respectively, by the end of the year.

Lana Veenker owns a Portland casting agency that hires for Leverage and is currently casting for the new NBC’s upcoming Grimm-based project.

She sees the growth in Oregon’s film industry, adding that Oregon is definitely on the map when it comes to film and the proof is in the jobs.

“We have fantastic film crews, we have a really strong base of actors, we have every kind of location you can imagine,” said Veenker.

Link to full article.

 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Portland Development Commission Hiring Mayor’s Office Film & Video Liaison

by admin

Do you want to have a meaningful impact in sustaining and growing the Portland film industry? Do you have the experience and skills it takes? Here’s your chance to answer that question and more by applying for the liaison position in the Mayor’s Office of Film and Video at the Portland Development Commission.

Check out the full listing here for more information and instructions on applying.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lana Veenker on OPB’s Think Out Loud Friday, August 13th

by admin

Lana will be on Oregon Public Broadcasting‘s Think Out Loud tomorrow, Friday, August 13th, from 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM to talk about the state of Oregon on screens both big and small.

Additional guests include Kearie Peak (co-executive producer of “Leverage”), Todd Freeman (independent filmmaker), Kevin Klowden (managing economist and director of the California Center), and Kristi Turnquist (pop culture reporter for The Oregonian).

You can submit your questions ahead of time in the comments section at OPB.

If you missed the show, here’s the link to download the MP3, or you can stream it on the OPB website. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Hollywood Reporter: Made in Oregon

by admin

The June 25-27, 2010 issue of The Hollywood Reporter put the spotlight on Oregon: its incentives, landscapes, and talent.

Read the article here on The Hollywood Reporter, or find a PDF version below.

Casting Director Lana Veenker was highlighted as one of “eight must-knows for an Oregon shoot”:

2010_06_25 – North by Northwest Made in Oregon – The Hollywood Reporter

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mayor’s office chimes in on Leverage Boot Camp & Oregon jobs

by admin

“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!

Link to article.

 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Interview with Rick Emerson on NW 32’s "Outlook Portland"

by admin

Watch as Lana discusses the casting biz, scams, the craft of acting and Oregon film production with Rick Emerson on NW32’s “Outlook Portland.”

This weekend’s Outlook Portland: Of Twilight, Leverage, and starry eyes.

She’s done the casting for Leverage, Twilight, The Road, and myriad other projects for the big and small screens. She’s Lana Veenker, and as head of Lana Veenker Casting, she helps to craft the products that entertain billions of people around the globe. She’s also a gatekeeper of sorts, one through which Portland’s aspiring actors must inevitably pass.

So…how does casting work? What is a casting director really looking for? And how far have Twilight Moms gone in an attempt to get their kids cast in a flick?

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