Trish and Harold's Weblog

News, information, and random thoughts from the busy lives of Trish Egan and Harold Phillips.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Big Film News, For Me and Portland In General!

Hi there folks!

I haven't been all that good at keeping touch of late - this weird economy has been doing some odd things to my schedule. I've been hustling (even more than usual) to try and find the work, and to use my "off-time" more effectively. This leaves precious little time for blogging (I have been pretty active on Twitter, though, so if you use that system feel free to follow me at

Anyway there's some big news to share this morning... good news for me, GREAT news for Portland, and really bad news (if we don't get in the way of the train now) for arts and film funding in the state of Oregon. Here's the low-down:

>>First off, Sum of the Parts is showing in Salem this weekend!
After two successful screenings of the Beloit International Film Festival in Wisconsin last weekend, with a lot of people roaming the snow covered streets wearing their ‘Agent 17’ buttons, Sum of the Parts is coming back to Oregon this weekend! We are screening Saturday, February 28th at 6 pm at The Northern Lights Theatre Pub in Salem (3893 Commercial St SE, Salem, OR 97302) as part of the 6th Annual Mid-Valley Video Festival.

By now you all know about SUM OF THE PARTS, the techno-thriller that I have a small but pivitol role in. Other actors from the film, including Melody Bates, Logan Creighton, Abigail Ray, and C.K. Lichenstein plan on joining Trish and I at the showing and would love to get a great Salem crowd - so please spread the word! Hope I see you there on Saturday!

>>Now, the bad news - as I mentioned above, the economy is tough all over. It's especially tough here in Oregon, where we just got the news that our unemployment rate is almost up to 10%(!!!!) Knowing this, we all expected the state legislature to make some cuts in the budget this year to try and stem the bleeding - and those of us in the arts and entertainment industry here in Oregon knew that we were going to have to bear some of the weight.

The numbers that came out yesterday, though, are a bit beyond the pale. In a nutshell, here's what's been proposed (courtesy of the Oregon Cultural Advocacy Coalition)

  • $211,384 cut to the Oregon Arts Commission

  • $350,000 cut to the Oregon Historical Society

  • $ 64,085 cut in lottery funds to the Office of Film and Television

  • The "recapture" of $1.8 million from the permanent fund of the Oregon Cultural Trust. The $1.8 million includes $1.3 million in cultural license plate revenue generated since 2003 - plus interest.

Now look, like I said, we all knew that cuts were coming - and that they're needed. Oregon is facing a 1 billion dollar budget shortfall this year - there's no way around it. Money has to be cut from the budget, and our industry has to take its lumps with the others in the state.

The thing that bothers me the most about this proposal (though not the only thing... more on that in a minute) is the "recapturing" of funds from the Cultural Trust. Dipping into the trust for other purposes goes against the trust's purpose - to echo a phrase from a by-gone presidential campaign, the Cultural Trust should be put in a "lock box" and only used for the purpose it was intended for. Look, The Cultural Trust was authorized by the Legislature in 1999 - ten years ago - to grow and stabilize funding for culture in good times and in bad!! It's meant to be a "rainy day fund" of sorts - it's funding that our museums, theaters, and symphonies can depend on (or it's supposed to be). To dip into the fund to pay for other state services simply violates the very purpose of the Trust, and the wishes of the Trust's thousands of donors: to protect and invest in Oregon's cultural resources.

The time to do something to stop this is now, while the state's legislators are still considering the proposal. They need to hear from YOU, their constituents. Please take a moment to click here and let your state legislator know how you feel about these proposed cuts. Even better, find out who your legislators are (if you don't already know) by clicking here and give them a call in Salem. If you don't like the proposed cuts, let them know - remember, they work for you, and if enough of us get on the phone to tell them our feelings, they'll have no choice but to listen to us. Don't sleep on this, folks - get 'hold of them straight away!

>>The other big thing I object to REALLY doesn't make sense in light of yesterday's news that TNT's Leverage is relocating production here, to Portland, OR! Obviously, everyone working in the Portland film and television industry is jumping up and down about this news - and what clinched the deal for the show to come to Portland? Governor Kulongoski said it all when he made the announcement yesterday:

"The decision to locate in Oregon is a clear indication that our incentive programs are working. State support for film and television creates jobs and brings a big return on investment for Oregon taxpayers," said Governor Kulongoski. "Our Office of Film and Television stands ready to provide the producers of Leverage the one- stop shop they need to make the second season of "Leverage" a success."
Please, allow me to direct your attention to cut #3 in the list above - removing funds from the film office. WHAT? With the state's unemployment rate so high, and industry and tax income down, it hardly makes sense to cut funding to a program that's actually bringing business to the state! Dean Devlin, the man behind the hit drama, says
"We're delighted to be bringing 'Leverage' to Oregon.
From our initial scouting of locations to making the final decision to move the production, we have found the cooperation and assistance from everyone at the Governor's Office of Film & Television to be extraordinary. The officials from the city of Portland and those at the state level have also been outstanding. We are so impressed by the wide variety of locations available to us and we look forward to bringing our 'Leverage' family to Oregon for our second season."
Look, guys, this is great news... but we have to keep the show here after their initial run. The only way we do that is to keep providing "cooperation and assistance" at the level that Devlin and the producing team received when they were initially scouting. You can't do this by cutting funds to the offices that are there to help them.

So, again, I'm asking you Oregonians to take a moment and contact your state legislators. Film and television production in Oregon is at a critical stage right now - the efforts of the film office and those in the industry who've been working so hard to bring production here to the state are starting to pay off. This is NOT the time to hamstring them.

So, anyway... that's what's been going on in my world. Well, some of what's been going on. There may well be more to report in the next week... keep your fingers crossed for me! In the mean time, I hope I see you down in Salem this weekend... and as always, I hope you're all doing well!