Reel World

Why Portland seems to have as many movie sets as strip clubs.

By Anna Hirsh May 19, 2009 Published in the April 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

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WHEN THE FILMING of Morgan Freeman’s Feast of Love locked us out of the Fresh Pot on N Mississippi Avenue for a week back in 2006, we didn’t mind looking elsewhere for our caffeine kick start. After all, how often does Portland make the silver screen? But by last spring, when Untraceable’s filming tied up traffic by closing the Broadway Bridge for a few hours each day, we’d begun to lose patience. It seemed like every other month some production company shut down our favorite restaurant or most-used street. Turns out our city has played host to eight major movies over the last two years. That’s partly because, five years ago, Governor Kulongoski introduced incentives to attract them, like a state-sponsored 16.2-percent subsidy of production crews’ wages and a 20-percent rebate on goods and services purchased in Oregon. As a result, in 2007 the state raked in over $1 billion from the film industry. Which, we suppose, gives us good reason to quell any Hollywood hatred that boils up the next time we find ourselves snaking 10 blocks out of our way to avoid a movie set. Here are some recent examples of how Tinseltown is gilding our city.

THE FILM: Untraceable filmed in 2007, released in 2008
THE FACES: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks
THE PLACES: Portland’s FBI headquarters; Con-way Truckload; Broadway Bridge; Washington Park Inn; private homes on NE Wasco St and in Irvington
THE CASH: Generally, homeowners make $700 a day for farming out their homes to film productions. But Untraceable paid the owners of a prime private home in Irvington $40,000 for letting them film in their pad for a week.

THE FILM: Into the Wild filmed in 2006, released in 2007
THE FACES: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn
THE PLACES: The Glisan Street Shelter in Old Town; Reed College; Old Town Lofts; McCormick’s Fish House and Bar in Beaverton; private home in Raleigh Hills
THE CASH: For the scenes shot in the Glisan Street Shelter, director Sean Penn purchased enough bedding for 90 beds and then donated it to the shelter. Instead of using extras for the shelter scenes, he also paid 60 real homeless people and fed them prime rib during production.

THE FILM: Management filmed in 2007, to be released in 2008
THE FACES: Jennifer Aniston, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn
THE PLACES: Oaks Amusement Park; Lone Fir Cemetery; Tualatin Indoor Soccer; 19-acre property in West Linn; George Rogers Park
THE CASH: No matter where he was filming, green-leaning Woody Harrelson pedaled his rented bike—or caught a ride from the driver of his rented hybrid—to Northwest’s Blossoming Lotus for a raw, organic, vegan meal twice a day. Every day.

THE FILM:The Burning Plain filmed in 2008, to be released in 2009
THE FACES:Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger, Joaquim de Almeida, Jennifer Lawrence
THE PLACES:The Palms Motel on N Interstate Ave; Portland Pensione on NE San Rafael St; McCormick Pier Condominiums
THE CASH:This Guillermo Arriaga film paid the Palms Motel $3,000 for a mere day and a half of filming. That’s more than this flophouse would make, even at full capacity, in a single day.

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