Growing the media production industry in Portland

By Blaine Palmer of Portland, Oregon. Blaine is a local activist, writer and actor. He appeared in the recent film "Gone," shot in Portland, with Amanda Seyfried.

On Thursday, Eileen Brady, Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith will discuss what they will do to foster local film, television, interactive, commercial, and mobile media ventures as Portland's next Mayor.

As the clock winds down on the Adams administration, many in the creative sector wonder how they'll fare under the next. As Mayor, Sam Adams has made the creative economy a priority. Sam gets it: media production is not a frill or a cultural nicety, it's an industry. As he wrote in his 2011 Arts and Culture Progress Report:

[Film and TV projects] brought hundreds of jobs to Portlanders and, in 2011 alone, over $110 million dollars of spending into Oregon’s economy, much of it here in our city. That is nearly double the previous record amount, set back in 2009. How’s that for a growth industry?

And let’s be clear, these productions call Portland home. Leverage puts over 450 locals on payroll each season and over 90% of the Portlandia crew consists of local hires. Consider on top of that the significant purchases and contracts being made with Portland businesses that support this industry such as hardware shops, restaurants and security firms.

As Harold Phillips writes at Oregon Film and TV Dollars:

It's no secret that Portland is the state's largest production center, and the city's leadership plays an important part in shaping the way Oregon's film and TV industry's continued growth.

With Leverage , Portlandia, and now Grimm shooting in the Portland area, and Gone, Jingle all the Way and Paranorman all produced in the past year, the next administration will face the question of how to build on our current success.

The candidates clearly get it too. Hales, Smith and Brady (as well as several City Council candidates) sat down with the OMPA's government affairs committee last week, both to talk about their vision for media production, and to find out more about what the industry does for the city, and the challenges it faces. Facing a larger audience this Thursday, the candidates will offer their ideas for how an administration they lead would respond to those challenges:

The Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA) and Portland Monthly Magazine host a "Portland Mayoral Forum on Creative Economy", with Portland Community Media, Women in Film, Oregon Creative Industries and KGW.

The forum is this Thursday, 6:30 pm at the KGW studios (1501 SW Jefferson St in Portland). Industry members will be there in force. This event is open to the public but seating is limited. R.S.V.P. here.

Moderated by Zach Dundas, senior editor of Portland Monthly Magazine. Location hosted by KGW NewsChannel 8, for later broadcast by Portland Community Media.

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    Thanks very much for spreading the word about tomorrow night's forum, Blaine. Portland's film and TV industry has grown substantially under the Adams administration, and we in the industry are hoping that mayor Adams' successor will be committed to building on that growth and integrating media production with his or her larger economic plan for the city. We're looking forward to hearing what the candidates have to say tomorrow night!

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