Word is out that #OregonMade “Zilla and Zoe“–winner of the Best Comedy Film at the Oregon Independent Film Festival–has received a distribution deal with Indican Pictures. We had a great time casting this film, and extend a huge congrats to filmmaker Jessica Scalise, and all of the local cast and crew. See below for all the ways to watch, support and share this gem of a movie.
Despite the productions of “Grimm,” “Portlandia” and “The Librarians” all coming to an end, show business is still booming in Oregon right now!
Casting Director Lana Veenker stopped by KATU’s AM Northwest on August 27, 2018 with a film and TV update.
Here’s the clip, in case you missed it:
On January 3, 2018, Lana shared her Oregon film and television production update with Helen Raptis on KATU’s AM Northwest.
Check it out! Looks like we’re in for a busy year.
PS: Happy anniversary to Helen, celebrating 20 years with AM Northwest this year!
This week, the first season of Oregon-produced Life After First Failure launches on the CW’s web platform, CW Seed.
The series was executive produced and directed by Tripp Reed (Significant Mother, Pretty Little Liars), and stars more than a dozen Northwest actors, several in recurring roles.
We had a blast working on this project, and hope it gets picked up for another season by the CW!
Check out the trailer, and watch Season 1 at the link below.
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.
Stephanie Kralevich of More Good Day Oregon recently covered the passage of SB 1507, which included an increase to the Oregon Production Investment Fund! Many thanks to all the legislators who voted in favor of this jobs-creating bill, and to all the volunteers who helped make it happen.
Sheila Hamilton talks with Lana Veenker of Cast Iron Studios about Oregon film and television, and casting for an increasing number of commercials and major motion pictures.
It will also be part of the morning news cycle on KINK on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 at 7:30 and 8:30 AM.
Over the last few months, I’ve interviewed several people connected to Portland’s film industry who said — appropriately, as if from a script — that the state must expand or lift its cap on production tax credits in order for the industry here to grow.
The Oregon Production Investment Fund offers film productions a 20 percent tax credit on all goods and services purchased in the state and 10 percent tax credit on labor costs. But it’s capped at $10 million in credits per year. Between recurring series’ like “Portlandia,” “Grimm” and “The Librarians,” the fund is tapped pretty quickly.
“Grimm” casting director Lana Veenker and “Librarians” producer Dean Devlin have each told me this year why it’s a no-brainer to expand the program. Veenker said the state has lost productions written specifically for Portland because of the cap. Devlin told me he’d “be the first guy to break ground and build a studio if that limit ever got raised.”
When I had the chance to sit down with Travis Knight, CEO of Hillsboro-based stop-motion animation studio Laika Inc., I wanted to ask the same thing.
Lana dropped by the KATU studios this morning to give Dave Anderson and Helen Raptis an update on all the film and television activity in Oregon in recent months.
Hear all about it:
Our own Lana Veenker is the recipient of the Oregon Media Production Association‘s 2014 Award of Excellence.
The award “recognizes an individual who has reached the highest level of excellence, craftsmanship and integrity and has helped set the bar for professionalism in Oregon’s industry.”
Read all about it in the February 2014 issue of The Callsheet:
Many thanks to the OMPA and the Oregon film and television community for this honor!
From “Portlandia” to a new show starring Geena Davis, Portland is buzzing with TV and Film productions. Casting Director Lana Veenker stopped by KATU’s AM Northwest with an update.
Psst!! A little birdie told me about a way to get the PICA member discount price on THREE of its upcoming TBA (Time-Based Art) Festival shows!
The Method Gun
Fri, Sept 9 8:30-10:00pm
Sat, Sept 10 8:30-10:00pm
Sun, Sept 11 8:30-10:00pm
Mon, Sept 12 6:30-8:00pm
Tue, Sept 13 6:30-8:00pm
The Method Gun explores the life and techniques of Stella Burden, the actor-training guru of the 60s and 70s and creator of “The Approach” (referred to as “the most dangerous acting technique in the world”), which fused Western acting methods with risk-based rituals to infuse even the smallest role with sex, death, and violence. Using found text from the journals and performance reports of Burden’s company, The Method Gun reenacts the final months of her company’s rehearsals for their nine-years-in-the-making production of A Streetcar Named Desire. The Method Gun addresses the ecstasy and excesses of performing, the dangers of public intimacy, and the incompatibility of truth on stage and sanity in real life.
Tickets to Rude Mechs
Discount Code: timetotba
Comparison Is Violence or The Ziggy Stardust Meets Tiny Tim Songbook
Fri, Sept 9 8:30-10:00pm
Sat, Sept 10 8:30-10:00pm
Sun, Sept 11 8:30-10:00pm
Gloriously larger than life, the fabulous performer, writer, and director Taylor Mac draws from the traditions of drag and performance art to create a style all his own. Combining dramatic flair, searing satire, poignant honesty, and—of course—plenty of glitter, Mac presents his newest show, in which he dissects the darker side of comparison while singing Tiny Tim songs and selections from David Bowie’s glam-rock classic, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. It promises to be a concert unlike any other.
Tickets to Taylor Mac
Discount Code: timetotba
Get Mad at Sin
Tue, Sept 13 6:30-7:30pm
Wed, Sept 14 6:30-7:30pm
Thu, Sept 15 6:30-7:30pm
Fri, Sept 16 6:30-7:30pm
Sat, Sept 17 6:30-7:30pm
Get Mad at Sin! is a one-man performance reanimating a historical document: an out-of-print vinyl record of a sermon by the evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, recorded live at the First Assembly of God in Van Buren, Arkansas, circa 1971. Conceived and performed by Andrew Dinwiddie under the direction of Jeff Larson, Get Mad at Sin ! strives to achieve perfect audio fidelity to the original record while reincarnating Swaggart’s carpetpacing, pulpit-pounding performance. The result is a complicated portrait of Swaggart in his prime—legendary Pentecostal preacher, pioneer of radio and televangelism, fiery rhetorician, best-selling gospel artist of all time, and first cousin of rock-and-roller Jerry Lee Lewis—before he reached the height of his fame and imploded in 1988.
Tickets to Andrew Dinwiddie
Discount Code: timetotba
Enjoy the great discount and be inspired! If you hit any of these shows, leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
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!
KGW’s Joe Smith spoke to Vince Porter from the Governor’s Office of Film and Television, Mayor Sam Adams, Doug Boss, owner of Pacific Grip and Lighting, and Lana Veenker about the new NBC series “Grimm” that the Film Office has confirmed will begin shooting in Portland in July.
NBC picks ‘Grimm’ pilot filmed in Portland for series
by Joe Smith
KGW News Channel 8
May 24, 2011
PORTLAND, Ore. — Once upon a time in a place not too far away, the producers of a new NBC show chose the Rose City to bring its production. It’s not a fairy tale, but a true story.
The show “Grimm” is a cop drama based on the Grimm fairy tales. It’s also is a showcase for Oregon’s growing film industry, with hundreds of jobs in the starring role.
Producers spent weeks in Portland filming the pilot for the show, then waited. Would the network like it? They did.
The next question: Where would the series itself be filmed?
“NBC let us know they’re committed,” said Vince Porter, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Oregon Film & TV.
Porter says the network’s decision to film the series in Portland is having a ripple effect though Oregon’s film community.
“To have a big broadcast show that’s set in Portland is a real step up for us.”
But, as much as the producers love Portland, they also love the tax credits Oregon is offering. A percentage in cash rebates goes to the production company for spending at least $750,000 in Oregon on wages and service. That’s an easy reach for Grimm.
“It can really tip over $2 million an episode,” said Porter.
There are also other incentives: no sales tax, and built-in crews and services, from cameras, to lights to action with northwest actors.
“The minute Grimm starts up they’re going to hire 150 people and by July there will be 250,” says Lana Veenker, a local casting director who cast eight local actors for the pilot.
Cultivating a World-Class Talent Pool 1000 Miles from Hollywood
Lana Veenker’s POV: Portland Casting
The Actors’ Voice – POV
May 1, 2011
This fantastic contribution from Portland casting director Lana Veenker is not one meant to warm the hearts of Los Angeles-based actors, hoping production is headed back to Hollywood. It’s a column about how local talent has stepped up its collective game to attract–and retain–major productions in the past few years. “Come for the tax breaks; stay for the talent,” could be the new minor-market motto, you might say.
Cultivating a World-Class Talent Pool 1000 Miles from Hollywood
In November 2008, I found myself in the Los Angeles offices of Electric Entertainment, meeting with the executive producers of TNT’s Leverage. They were considering moving their entire production to Oregon, but they had one big concern:
Was the local talent pool deep enough to fill the needs of their show, episode after episode, season after season?
Sure, my Portland-based company had provided casting on some big movies (including Twilight, Extraordinary Measures, and Feast of Love, to name a few) and some smaller ones (such as Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park), but it had been at least 15 years since a television series had set foot in the state.
Film and television production had just begun hitting its stride in Oregon when British Columbia implemented its film incentive program in the 1990s. This move–combined with a favorable exchange rate on the Canadian dollar–all but killed the momentum in the Northwest. Hollywood began to look past the forests, mountains, and lakes of Oregon, to the forests, mountains, and lakes of Vancouver BC and surrounding areas.
Many Northwest actors and crew who had been earning a decent living in their hometowns were suddenly faced with the decision to either uproot their families and move to Los Angeles (where there was still work to be found), or leave the industry altogether.
The creation of film tax incentives in Oregon in 2003–along with a more equitable exchange rate–has brought many of the jobs back to the Northwest, and we’ve been rebuilding our industry ever since. So when executive producer Dean Devlin threw down the gauntlet that November afternoon, I told him (a tad boldly, in retrospect): “Absolutely. We have enough actors to cast that for you in Oregon. No problem.”
Based in part on that assertion, Leverage announced a few months later that it was coming to Oregon.
Panic set in.
I knew what this meant to our film office, to the hundreds of crewmembers counting on these jobs, to Northwest actors searching for a reason to stay here, and to my own bottom line. I understood the financial commitment that Electric Entertainment was making–and the damage my career would sustain–if I failed to live up to my word.
I thought we had a strong enough base of actors to meet the demands of the show, but I had no idea whether or not our talent pool would truly meet their expectations, nor for how long.
My office organized a “town hall” meeting, which was attended by hundreds of Northwest actors. This time, it was my turn to throw down the gauntlet. An entire production company was moving its TV show to Portland, partly on my word. To prepare for it, I told actors, we were expanding our offices and staff, and upgrading to a new online casting system.
Now, I needed them to deliver the goods.
We challenged our talent pool to do everything in their power to up their game, whether that meant getting new headshots, assembling more professional demo reels, improving their online presence (website, IMDb, etc.), or recommitting themselves to ongoing training. I knew we had a number of actors who could compete in any market, but I was concerned that we might use them all up in our first season. I needed the next generation to step up and meet the challenge. And man, have they done so!
I can’t keep up with the number of weekly industry nights, script readings, and screening events going on in Portland, much less the countless independent films and webseries shooting around town. Our top acting coaches’ classes are filled to capacity, workshops are selling out, and it seems like every actor I encounter is in a show, penning a script, producing a short film or feature, volunteering as a reader in casting sessions, or simply focused wholeheartedly on training.
Talent agency rosters are filling out with new actors we never knew about before, and highly professional on-camera talent are hoofing it from as far away as Bend, Eugene, Ashland, and Medford to attend our casting sessions in Portland, never complaining about the commute. In my 11 years of casting in Oregon, I’ve never seen actors this motivated. And their determination is paying off.
Homegrown filmmaker James Westby–whose film Rid of Me features a cast made up almost entirely of Northwest actors–has captured the attention of the prestigious TriBeCa Film Festival (his previous made-in-Oregon feature, The Auteur, was hailed by TriBeCa organizers as “the funniest film in the festival”).
We are now in our third season of casting on Leverage, with over 38 episodes under our belts. Its producers and directors are still as thrilled as they were their first year in town, when they realized that–although they had budgeted to fly up four or five actors per episode from LA–the average (not including name actors hired to satisfy the network) was closer to one per episode. At times, none are flown in at all, local actors having snagged all the guest star and co-star roles themselves.
Since then, other pilots, films, and series have hit the Oregon Trail:
- The IFC series Portlandia (starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein) shot six episodes in Portland last year, and just got picked up for another ten.
- TNT has increased its order for Leverage from 15 episodes in season two, to 16 in season three, to 18 this year.
- NBC chose Oregon for its made-for-TV-movie A Walk in My Shoes in 2010, while Brain Trust (the TBS pilot we cast in December) may go to series this fall.
- 2011 is projected to be the busiest year for film and video production in the state’s history. So far this year, in addition to the first few episodes of Leverage season four, we have cast Grimm for NBC (the highly anticipated pilot by the producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), and Gone, a Lakeshore Entertainment thriller starring Amanda Seyfried.
If Leverage and Portlandia continue to be successful, and Grimm and Brain Trust both get picked up, we will have four television series shooting concurrently in and around Portland.
I’ve heard the rumblings of more Hollywood films joining this wagon train in months to come, and local actors continue to lend their talents to dozens of indie projects, plays, commercials, industrials, infomercials, and voiceover gigs. In fact, more and more Northwest actors are now piecing together a fulltime living from their acting endeavors. This would have been almost unheard of just a few years back.
There’s never been a better time to be an actor in Oregon, and our actors have never impressed me as much as they have of late. Sean Hayes–one of the producers of Grimm–raved about the quality of our talent base after we had completed casting on the pilot. Gone producer André Lamal and director Heitor Dhalia did the same after our first round of callbacks. Leverage directors keep asking, “Where are you finding these people?!? How come we haven’t run out yet?”
Is there an endless pool of actors in the Northwest? Of course not. Are there categories in which I wish we had more options? Umm, yes. (Hint: if you’re a strong, non-Caucasian actor of any type–especially over 30–or a strong actor who fits the thug/bad guy or cop/security guard type, now might be a good time to hitch up your wagon and head west… or north, as the case may be). But what our actors, coaches, acting schools, independent producers, and directors have managed to accomplish over the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable:
They have created an environment that supports and cultivates a world-class talent pool a thousand miles from Los Angeles, and three thousand miles from New York City.
As long as we keep endeavoring to raise the bar professionally–each generation of artists helping to groom and inspire the next–the momentum will continue and the pool will be replenished. In fact, I’ve already made it a habit to tell producers: “Give us a shot at the lead roles. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
Kudos to you, Lana, and to all the local talent keeping so many major productions so well cast and well acted! Let’s hope all actors with the opportunity to work under local hire status in other markets see this as a great time to take advantage of all the great stuff going on. Congratulations, Portland, on getting better and better! Very exciting!
About Lana Veenker
Lana Veenker began her career in London as a casting assistant on international co-productions for major studios and networks. When the Portland native returned to her roots in 1999, she launched what is now the Northwest’s most successful casting company, helping to raise the bar on what producers can expect from a regional talent pool. She is a member of the Casting Society of America and the International Casting Directors Network.
In case you missed this the other day, Oregon filmmakers visited the State Capitol in Salem last week to testify before the Joint Tax Credit Committee on HB 2167, the bill that would extend and expand our state film incentive program.
Committee members later said that this hearing was a model for how legislative hearings should go, as Oregon film industry members painted a very clear picture of the value of our incentive program from every possible angle.
Legislators first heard testimony from Dean Devlin, Executive Producer of TNT’s Leverage, Vince Porter, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Film and Television, Steve Oster, Producer of the NBC pilot Grimm and former Executive Director of the Film Office.
They were followed by producers, crew members and vendors from around the state, a talent agent and casting director (moi!), and two representatives from educational institutions offering Film Studies programs.
As Co-Chair Berger summed it up: “This has been a real revelation of an industry that some of us, we only see what’s up in front, we don’t see all the things that are going on behind. Fascinating.”
You can listen to the audio of the hearing here:
RealPlayer required (free download here).