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Oregon City gets ready for its close-up

When Steve Spielberg comes looking for a location, Oregon City is ready.

Prompted by Clackamas County’s film and media program, the City Commission unanimously passed an ordinance last Wednesday to create a film and video production policy.

Oregon City’s ready for its close-up, Mr. DeMille.

The county pitched the program to various cities in an attempt to make it easier for filming companies to pour money into various parts of the county by streamlining the approach.

“This is another step in the process to make this smoother,” said City Commissioner Rocky Smith.

Clackamas County identified film and media production as an emerging cluster generating 4,791 direct jobs and $212 million in the GDP. The industry brings business opportunities for restaurants, caterers and support services, and possible investment in Oregon City property.

Jamie Johnk, an economic development coordinator for the county, said that when the county did the study, they were a bit surprised.

“You have to remember, this isn’t limited to television and films, but also gaming, advertising, commercial production and other areas,” she said.

After meeting with area film, television and game producers, as well as graphic artists like Dark Horse Comics and independent filmmakers, the county asked what they could do to make the process in Clackamas County better.

The reply was to “provide a conduit for industry suppliers that made the process uniform,” Johnk said. “Before, if a film or television company wanted to film in several Clackamas County cities or areas, there were separate processes to go through to get the permits. We felt we could create a permanent, uniform application process and policy within the county. Each city may have different costs for things, but we will house the information and permit process in one place. This way we provide that one-stop shop for them.”

The program is unique, she said. There is nothing similar in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest or anywhere she and her team could find that brings the process to one location. She said that producers and location scouts she’s talked to already are providing positive feedback.

“We’re just asking the communities to adopt the ordinance that fits within the scope of what we’re doing to smooth the process,” Johnk said. “Clackamas County is a very popular place to film. It has tremendous diversity, is close to the Portland metro area and is now becoming easier to access.”

In the last two weeks, Johnk said, she has fielded two location site inquiries and some commercial production requests.

“Independent films are very interested in Clackamas County,” she added.