‘Wild’ in Oregon: the story behind the red carpet
December 29, 2014
Last week, I was pleased to join Tim Williams, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Film and Television, in writing My View: Oregon is the real star of the ‘Wild’ movie, an op-ed printed in Tuesday’s Portland Tribune.
Jan Hoag and Will Cuddy might not have their names in bright lights just yet, but these talented actors were part of the team that helped bring Oregon writer Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, “Wild,” to life on the big screen. They also happen to be part of another important team: the homegrown professionals at the heart of the so-called “creative economy.
Oregon is justifiably proud of its reputation for creativity. Our identity is defined by art and culture, as well as by our love of the outdoors and our commitment to “keeping it local.” All of these values were on display at Cinema 21 for the Dec. 8 premiere of “Wild.
The Governor’s Office of Film and Television has been helping productions find the perfect Oregon location since 1968. The state Legislature is a key partner in attracting companies to Oregon. Locally, the Film Office at the Portland Development Commission provides concierge services to help with permits, logistics and more.
Our collective efforts have successfully lured TV shows like “Leverage,” “Grimm,” “Portlandia,” and “The Librarians” to Oregon. At the same time, great Oregon companies like Laika and Julianna Lukasik’s @Large Films are growing, nurturing local talent, and bolstering our credentials as a creative capital.
As Oregon arts leaders, we believe that film, television, animation and digital storytelling are critical to the future of our city and state. They contribute to our quality of life, create thousands of jobs, and put millions of dollars right back into our local communities.
“Wild” is a great example. The film’s producers employed 175 local crew members, 37 local actors, and 630 local background actors. They engaged more than 250 vendors and spent more than $600,000 in hotel and travel expenses. When you tally up the dollars spent on labor, goods and services in Oregon, the impact is nearly $10 million.
Then there are the intangibles. Reese Witherspoon called “Wild” a “love letter to the Pacific Northwest — particularly Oregon.” The film showcases the beauty of Portland, Ashland, Bend, Mount Hood, Crater Lake, and the Bridge of the Gods — not to mention the star of the show, the Pacific Crest Trail. Our state has never looked better — and the film will serve as a major boost to cultural tourism, beckoning visitors from across the globe.
To remain competitive, there is more work to be done. In the next legislative session, state lawmakers will be asked to increase tax credits for film and TV projects. In Portland, we need to focus on strengthening the pipelines from our high schools and colleges to the creative professions — ensuring that Oregonians can compete for good family-wage jobs. And we must continue to invest in the arts and culture statewide.
Before Gus Van Sant, Cheryl Strayed, or the Decemberists became famous, they were artists, writers and musicians chasing a dream. Now our challenge is to support the next generation of creative people who want to follow their trail.
Back to the Dec. 8 premiere of “Wild.” Before the screening, Director Jean-Marc Vallée invited the Oregon cast and crew to stand up and take a bow. They received the loudest cheer of the night.
When the next film shot in Oregon opens in a local theater, we hope to fill it with homegrown talent. And we would be thrilled if local actors like Jan Hoag and Will Cuddy had starring roles.
Thanks to the Tribune for printing our article!
My View: Oregon is the real star of 'Wild' movie
Nick Fish and Tim Williams in the Portland Tribune