North by Northwest: 13 Films & TV Shows Produced in Oregon
March 02, 2012
If you’re a video production professional in the state of Oregon, you’ve probably already picked up your OMPA SourceOregon Directory for 2012. We read with interest the history of filmmaking in Oregon, and decided to get into the mix with a list of our own.
You may recognize several titles from the SourceOregon article, but all the rest come from our own research [i.e., an afternoon spent on Wikipedia and IMDB]. And now, for your edification, here is the Funnelblog List of Northwest Films:
Have you heard about the horse that was the only surviving member of Custer’s regiment at the Battle of Little Big Horn? Well, neither had we until this writing! This 1958 Disney film is mostly fiction, filmed entirely in the very real beauty of Bend, OR.
Twenty years after learning how an angel gets its wings, and nearly thirty years after going to Washington as Mr. Smith, James Stewart spent time near Eugene, OR during the production of this film.
SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION & ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST
A two-for one, we have the film adaptations of counter-culture icon Ken Kesey. There’s a lot of Oregon in this equation, beginning with Kesey himself, who graduated from the University of Oregon [go Ducks!] before attending Stanford and being introduced to LSD by the CIA [that’s a lot of acronyms]. SGN and OFOCN were produced almost entirely in Oregon, with most of Cuckoo’s Nest filmed at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem.
Perhaps we’re dating ourselves a bit here, but a good percentage of the FunnelCrew became familiar with this cult classic in our early to late childhoods. Fittingly, the Oregon Film Museum resides in the Clatsop County jail house in Astoria, OR; the same jail house used in the film’s opening scenes.
Between Terminator and Governator, Arnold starred in a slew of comedies, including this ‘90s favorite. Nearly all exteriors were filmed in Astoria, where the bulk of the action is set.
DRUGSTORE COWBOY, MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO & ELEPHANT
Perhaps it’s cheating, but all three of these films deserve to be on this list representing a fraction of the work of Oregon writer/director Gus Van Sant. A poster-child for independent filmmaking, Van Sant’s filmography includes nearly a dozen films produced in Oregon.
Mel Gibson’s current standing in the public eye aside, Maverick was a box office success and continues to be greatly liked by critics and audiences alike. While production took place in several of America’s most beautiful settings [including the Grand Canyon & Yosemite], the memorable sternwheeler scenes were all filmed in the Columbia River Gorge. Bonus trivia: the sternwheeler portraying the Lauren Belle in the film's final scenes spends most it's days as the historic steamer Portland, moored on the Willamette river in downtown Portland as the floating home of the Oregon Maritime Musuem.
INTO THE WILD
This award-winning film adaptation of the actual life of Chris McCandless was shot at many of the locations visited by ‘Alexander Supertramp’. While filming at several locations in Oregon, the city of Portland and it’s environs provided the backdrop for many of the ‘incidental’ locations in the film.
Although this wildly popular young adult book was set in the small town of Forks, Washington, film producers selected Portland as their base of operations; all locations, including Cannon Beach and the Columbia River Gorge, were within relatively easy driving distance of downtown. A vast majority of the crew and all the film's extras were sourced from Portland's thriving film industry.
Filmmakers have long had reason to bring their productions to Oregon, but director and executive producer Dean Devlin and his team were among the first to choose Portland as the home of a television series. Now in it’s fifth season, Leverage storylines will finally take place in the City of Roses.*
What do Nike, Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick have in common? An award-winning stop-motion animated feature produced by Oregon company Laika. Extra-credit trivia: the trademarked term ‘claymation’ was coined by Oregon native Will Vinton, creator of the California Raisins and co-founder of Laika.
The primeval forests and gloomy weather of Portland set the stage for this clash of fairy tales and police procedural. Quickly picked up for a second season by broadcaster NBC, the show’s popularity has done much to ‘Keep Portland Weird’.**
*The majority of settings for the show have been in and around Boston, Massachusetts, though production has taken place almost entirely in Portland since season two.
**A long-standing, unofficial ‘motto’ of the city, adorning bumper stickers, t-shirts and other chotskis; rivaled by another motto, ‘Keep Portland Beered’.