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TVs Leverage returns to Sellwood for more filming

by: David F. Ashton The camera crew mounts a high-definition Red Digital Cinema video camera on a track dolly, for a moving-camera shot, just outside of the Oaks Roller Rink entrance.

The producers of 'Leverage', a television show produced by Electric Television Inc. for the cable/satellite 'TNT Network', liked their experience filming a scene on the Sellwood Bridge for their third production season so much, they came back a year later to record entire episodes here for season four.

If you haven't yet seen it, 'Leverage' is about a team of professional con artists, thieves, computer hackers, and strong-arm men, headed up by a former insurance investigator, who use their skills to set right corporate and governmental wrongs that are inflicted on everyday people.

Rachel Olschan, 'Leverage' fourth season co-producer, greeted us with a big smile outside the historic Oaks Amusement Park Roller Rink, while the camera crew operated a high-definition Red Digital Cinema video camera on a track dolly, and 'atmosphere actors' ('extras') were given their direction.

'This will be the fifth episode of the season,' Olschan said. 'It's called 'The van Gogh Job', and the action takes place in two time periods - the 1940s, and the present day.'

Inner Southeast Portland was a 'real find' for the production company, Olschan commented, because of the variety of settings they are able to adapt that are located close by.

'For this particular episode, within about a 500 foot area here, we've shot scenes that double for Nazi-occupied France; the train and tracks [Dick Samuels' Oregon Pacific Railroad Company]; a modern-day bank, just up the street; and the inside and exterior of the Oaks' roller rink, both present-day and as 1940s flashbacks.'

Even though their job is creating entertaining fictional fantasy, this is a business, Olschan pointed out, and 'time and travel are expensive. We've gotten so much out of this location! We've discovered so many great areas - photogenic nooks and crannies - that really help increase the production value of our shows, while reducing costs.'

Before leaving Oaks Amusement Park to film on top of the bluff, on the curve at the end of S.E. Sellwood Boulevard, Olschan confided that the producers had already planned out a series of shots for their sixth show of the season. 'It's a carnival-themed episode. There couldn't be a better place to shoot this than here, at Oaks Park.'

Coming back to shoot in Portland was an easy choice, Olschan added. 'We're really happy to be back here. We love shooting in Portland, because the neighbors are great to us, and the local crew and actors are terrific. Actually, most of our 150-person crew is local; only a few key department heads aren't from the area.'

This means that the grip, lighting, electric construction, hair and makeup artists, production office staff - about 80% of the crew - are local folks, she added.

As we walked by the carousel, and passed the Ferris Wheel, Olschan asked, 'Be sure to tell your readers that the premiere of 'Leverage' season four is Sunday, June 26, 9 pm, on the TNT Network.'