I rarely bother with this side of the biz. What side is that, you ask? I am referring to film production outside of Los Angeles. I live in Portland now. However I'm a California fella, except for that stint in Chicago and later on London. I'm here to tell ya that Portland is an amazing town.
I can say this having been in a lot of cities and towns around this planet. In comparison to other US cities it really can't be beat. I can hear the howls of protest right now. It isn't New York or LA or Chicago. It doesn't have the slightly exotic appeal of a Miami or New Orleans of yesteryear.
But then this is a false dichotomy. Those cities generally only have that certain something if you have that certain no-limit Visa or MasterCard. For someone stuck in South Chicago, the Bronx, Liberty City or South Central that "certain something" is as far away from them as they are from Portland.
Portland is generally adored by film crews out coming out of LA. Even though Oregon's legislature still hasn't made filming here as financially friendly as Vancouver, B.C., or even Louisiana, the state in general and Portland in particular sees a fair amount on major motion picture and even television shows shot here each year. Why, just last month it was announced that TNT's Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton, Beth Riesgraf, and Christian Kane will be filming in the Portland environs in April, I believe. Harrison Ford is getting ready to shoot a film here during the summer.
So it was with some bemusement that I read in yesterday's Oregonian, the major rag up here, that the cast and crew of Twilight (specifically director Catherine Hardwicke as well as the film's two principal stars, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart) complained bitterly on the newly released DVD about the “inhuman” conditions they had to endure while shooting up here. Read "inhuman" for winter.
Stewart, you might get a pass here. You're a true LA-ite. And Hardwicke, both in places lived and even film locations, you seem forever (with the exception of Portland) to be a desert dweller. But Pattinson… come on, fella! You're a Brit! A Londoner, for God's sake! It snowed there this winter! Not to mention you've worked in some reasonably inhospitable locations while on the set of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — hell, you were up in the Highlands of Scotland, son! Buck up!
I bring all this up because such wimpy-assed complaining is unbecoming to the fine tradition of Hollywood types being hardy souls! Think Bogart and Hepburn in the Congo doing The African Queen. Think of David Lean and Peter O'Toole out in the hellish North African deserts during the filming of Lawrence of Arabia. That you could characterize as "inhuman." No craft services tables within a thousand miles in any direction. Let's go a bit further. You want inhuman, not to mention inhumane? How about the horror of Apocalypse Now? Jungle. A slightly obsessed director. And a completely possessed Marlon "No, I did not just eat that water buffalo" Brando.
And who can forget the insurmountable odds facing our true American hero John Wayne while shooting The Oregon Trail in Lone Pine, California when the average night time temperature can plummet to near 65 degrees!
In all seriousness, Oregon offers more types of extremely varied climate and terrain within two hours of Portland than any other city on the West Coast — including Vancouver, B.C.
Add to this Portland itself. Because of some smart Oregonians, who, unlike their Cali-Cousins don't regularly bulldoze over every building on its 20th anniversary, Portland has some amazing, unique, and very old architecture. This is why large sections of Portland neighborhoods can look like any number of European cities not to mention bear strong resemblances to San Francisco, Seattle, LA, or even some of the finer neighborhoods of Oklahoma City, not to mention some of the worse neighborhoods of old rust belt mill towns in the Midwest or on the East Coast.
Add to this that there is – by law – a Starbucks that is always within arm's length of all citizens. (As I'm typing this at my kitchen table I… hang on… yeah, I had the grande latte! …Am giving a nod to an amazing barista, say hello, Sammy! Huh? Oh… he's shy. Okay. Yeah, just put that in the tip jar…)
So there are a lot of reasons to shoot in Oregon. Don't listen to the wimps. I happen to know that on the days the crew of Twilight was shooting in the Columbia Gorge the temperature never dipped below 34 degrees! Even with windchill that's only 17 degrees. Hell! T-shirt weather is what that is!
So shut yer yap, zip up and call for QUIET on the set. Time is money!
Where the HELL is my latte?