Saturday, October 1, 2011

On The Set

Oregon's film and television industry contemplates a post-Kesey breakout

By Lucy Burningham

Lee Remick (left) in Newport during the shooting of Sometimes a Great Notion, a 1970 Paul Newman-directed adaption of Ken Kesey's novel by the same name. / 
Photo by Gerry Lewin
Lee Remick (left) in Newport during the shooting of Sometimes a Great Notion, a 1970 Paul Newman-directed adaption of Ken Kesey's novel by the same name. / Photo by Gerry Lewin
Fred Armisen, center, leads a merry band of cast members of 'Portlandia,' and IFC show that some call an illumination of the Portland scene. / 
Photo by Scott Green / IFC
Fred Armisen, center, leads a merry band of cast members of "Portlandia," and IFC show that some call an illumination of the Portland scene. / Photo by Scott Green / IFC
On set in Portland in NBC's 'Grimm.' Sasha Roiz, left, as Captain Renard, with David Guintoli, center, as detective Nick Burckhardt and his partner, Hank Griffin played by Russell Hornsby. / 
Photo by Scott Green/IFC
On set in Portland in NBC's "Grimm." Sasha Roiz, left, as Captain Renard, with David Guintoli, center, as detective Nick Burckhardt and his partner, Hank Griffin played by Russell Hornsby. / Photo by Scott Green/IFC
While on the set of his newest film, Restless, Gus Van Sant directs actors (left to right) Henry Hopper and Mia Wasikowska. /
Photo by Scott Green / Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
While on the set of his newest film, Restless, Gus Van Sant directs actors (left to right) Henry Hopper and Mia Wasikowska. / Photo by Scott Green / Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
At the premiere of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in Salem, Katherine Wilson, governor's liaison to the set, and director Milos Forman. /
Photo courtesy of Katherine Wilson
At the premiere of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in Salem, Katherine Wilson, governor's liaison to the set, and director Milos Forman. / Photo courtesy of Katherine Wilson
Director Martin Vavra gives instructions on the set of 'Rise Again,' a zombie-themed music video for the band Cold Metal, in Banks, Oregon. / 
Photo by Dominik Kruger
Director Martin Vavra gives instructions on the set of "Rise Again," a zombie-themed music video for the band Cold Metal, in Banks, Oregon. / Photo by Dominik Kruger
Paul Newman, in Newport, tried his hand at film directing for the second time in Sometimes a Great Notion. /
Photo by Gerry Lewin
Paul Newman, in Newport, tried his hand at film directing for the second time in Sometimes a Great Notion. / Photo by Gerry Lewin
< Prev Introduction The Industry A Brief History Fred Armisen Sasha Roiz Notable Writers Notable Actors Next >

In the colorful landscape of Oregon's film industry, a place connected with such names as Gus Van Sant and Carrie Brownstein, Martin Vavra struggles for recognition. Portland-based Vavra does film and video production through his company, Galaxy Sailor Productions, which came to life after the 40-year-old lost his middle school science teaching job in 2008.

From the outside, Vavra's new gig appears successful. His website is posted with accomplishments. He has directed, edited and shot short films, produced commercials and shot music videos. He directed Patrick’s Story, a short documentary film about one man struggling for same-sex couples’ rights that won Best Short Documentary at the 2011 Breckenridge Film Festival. In some circles, Vavra is best known for writing, directing and producing "The Last Stand," an online post-apocalyptic zombie series knotted with suspense and oozing with blood—a project he calls, “a whim that went further than I imagined.” Still creating ripples in the small pond of Oregon’s film industry has its perks, he admits. “I’m not part of an assembly line,” he says. “I learn at my own rate.”

Even though paying projects are hard fought in a state known more for logging and salmon, the fledgling film and TV industry that began on sets graced by Ken Kesey adaptations and Jack Nicholson performances is expected to jump to a $110 million enterprise by the end of this year with hundreds of locals on its payroll.

< Prev Introduction The Industry A Brief History Fred Armisen Sasha Roiz Notable Writers Notable Actors Next >

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