East Portland selected for TV series show shots

We showed you the elaborate setup the TV show LEVERAGE had on the Sellwood Bridge last year. Find out why they came back to SE Portland to shoot major portions of their ‘Season 4’ episodes this year – and when you can see the shows …

On location in historic Oaks Amusement Park, Chris Downey, executive producer and writer consults with John Rogers, executive producer, writer and director of this episode, check out a “scene establishing shot” of the Oaks Roller Rink for an upcoming episode of TNT Network’s action-adventure series, LEVERAGE.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The producers of Leverage, a television show produced by Electric Television for the cable TNT Network, liked shooting a scene in inner SE Portland during their third production season so much, they came back 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 former insurance investigator, who use their skills to set right corporate and governmental wrongs inflicted on every-day people.

Dressed in period costumes, “atmosphere actors” from East Portland Mike Clarke from and Jill Connors of Portland rehearse hitting their marks.

The camera crew mounts a high-definition Red Digital Cinema video camera on a track dolly just outside Oaks Roller Rink entrance.

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 a high-definition Red Digital Cinema video camera on a track dolly and “atmosphere actors” 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 SE Portland was a “real find” for their production company, Olschan commented because of the variety of settings they could adapt located close by.

John Rogers, executive producer, writer and director of this episode, “The van Gogh Job”, explains the look of the scene he wants to a camera operator of the Oaks Roller Rink entrance, for an upcoming episode of TNT Network’s action-adventure series, LEVERAGE.

“For this particular episode, within about a 500 foot area, 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 roller rink, both present day and 1940s flashbacks.”

Even though their job is creating entertaining fictional fantasy, they are a business, Olschan pointed out, and “time and travel is expensive. “We’ve gotten so much out of this location. We’ve discovered so many great areas – photogenic nooks and crannies – this really helps increase the production value of the shows while reducing the costs.”

Portland actors prepare for their scene that will open an episode of TNT Network’s action-adventure series, LEVERAGE.

Before leaving Oaks Amusement Park to shoot up the bluff on SE Sellwood Blvd., Olschan said they had already planned out a series of shot 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 confided. “We’re really happy to be back here. We love shooting in Portland, because the neighbors are great to us; 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, production office staff – about 80% of the crew – are local folks she added.

As this episode is aired this summer, many Portlanders will recognize this location: the Oaks Roller Rink entrance.”

As we walk by the carousel and pass the Ferris wheel, Olschan requested, “Be sure to tell your readers that the premiere of Leverage season four is Sunday, June 26, 9 p.m. on the TNT Network.”

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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