PORTLAND, OR 2003-06-20 (Oregon Considered) - Next month, a small movie crew and a few Hollywood stars--will be in Beaverton to shoot the new movie "Thumbsucker." The independent film--which stars Keanu Reeves and Mathew McConnaughey--follows the story of an insecure high schooler who still sucks his thumb. By Hollywood standards, it's a small-scale project coming in with a budget of only $3 million. But it's just the kind of economic development project the state is eager to get. On a brightly lit sound stage in Northwest Portland, Governor Ted Kulongoski sits in a director's chair, surrounded by movie types. He casually jokes about how he nabbed "Thumbsucker" and its star Keanu Reeves.
Governor Kulongoski: Beaverton! (laughs)
Mike Mills: Keanu Reeves often mentions Beaverton! (group laughs)
Beaverton will serve as the backdrop for this light comedy about a high schooler who struggles to gain confidence in himself and his family.
The story is based on the novel "Thumbsucker," by Walter Kirn.
Director Mike Mills says when he was scouting sites, Beaverton and northwest Oregon grabbed his attention immediately.
Mike Mills: We're going everywhere from Trillium Lake up by Mt. Hood to Vernonia to Beaverton is kind of the heart of the shoot. And that's all two and half hours away. So for us production-wise it's an amazing number of places.
Mills says production will be low-key and neighbors won't even know they're there. But he and producer Anthony Bergman says Beaverton will have a clear presence in the film.
Mike Mills: We even wrote in hall street Restaurant into the script the other day and there may be a shot of the Beaverton sign in the beginning.
Anthony Bergman: and if you're walking in downtown Beaverton while we're shooting, we'll enlist you as an extra (laughs).
This kind of exposure is exactly what Governor Kulongoski wants. He's made recruiting movie and TV projects a significant part of his economic development plans for the state. In the case of "Thumbsucker," the governor authorized spending $100,000 from his Strategic Reserve Fund to entice the filmmakers to come to Oregon. Kulongoski says it's the kind of investment that pays for itself.
Governor Kulongoski: This production will have about 75 actors both out and within the state and there's about 300 extras. That puts a substantial amount of money in the local economies here, so it's a great return for us.
In the case of last year's movie "The Hunted"--which was shot in Portland and the Willamette Valley--there was a $30 million return to the state. Part of the terms of the "Thumbsucker" deal is that the filmmakers must prove they've spent a substantial amount of money in Oregon. A similar you-pay/we'll pay proposal is making it's way through the legislature. Senate Bill 313 would offer movie and TV productions a 10% rebate on their spending in Oregon up to $25,000. In return, the filmmakers must spend at least a million dollars in the state. Governor Kulongoski says it's the kind of incentive necessary to stem the tide of moviemakers going to Canada, where there are special tax incentives and a favorable exchange rate.
Governor Kulongoski: What we want to do is be much more competitive and get them to stop here in Oregon.
The crew of "Thumbsucker" will arrive in Beaverton on July 9th. In addition to Keanu Reeves, the film will also star Matthew McConnaughey, Vincent D'Onofrio and newcomer Lou Taylor [Pucci]. Filming is expected to take several weeks.cinema | from inside the mind of krix at June 20, 2003 05:32 PM .