The end of the road is in sight for Oregon’s best known TV show. NBC says “Grimm” will come to an end after its sixth season, which premieres in early January.
Tim Williams, the executive director of Oregon Film says the show has contributed more than $250 million to Oregon’s economy. He said he had heard hints that “Grimm” was facing the sunset before the network’s official announcement.
“When I read [the announcement] it confirmed something I’d feared but something I knew was coming eventually,” Williams said. “‘Grimm’ has been a really great thing for what has become a creative family in Portland.”
He notes there are other projects still in production in Oregon, like IFC’s “Portlandia” and TNT’s “The Librarians,” as well as the feature film adaptation of Willy Vlautin’s novel “Lean on Pete.”
Williams says he hopes to continue marketing the state as a destination close to Hollywood with great natural settings and a high quality of life for production teams, as well as an increasingly skilled labor force, thanks to shows like “Grimm.”
Here’s more from Williams about what “Grimm” leaves behind. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Q&A with Tim Williams, Executive Director of Oregon Film
April Baer: It’s been a relatively long run, but we’d heard some rumors the show was wrapping up.
Tim Williams: I’d agree. You don’t get 22-episode hour-long dramas as good as that one in your town for six years. And yes, as the end of last season there were definitely indications that discussions were going on about how to end it, though no confirmation came ‘till [Monday].
Baer: What has “Grimm” meant to the film community in Oregon?
Williams: Well, last November we celebrated the 100th episode out on the [sound] stages in Northwest Portland. The Governor acknowledged, up to that point, they had left about $250 million of economic activity here in the state. And it’s gone up from there.
I like to say what we’ve got here is a wonderfully balanced system with things like “Grimm” and (the Washington County animation studio) LAIKA — very big movies and TV shows, down to small indie movies being produced for five figures. They all feed on each other — the crew, the talent, the creativity. “Grimm” has been a big part of that engine for six years, making us a sort of destination. The crew has gotten more and more local and better trained, because of that series.
Baer: What’s realistic to expect, going forward? We still have “Portlandia” in production …
Williams: And “The Librarians.”
Baer: Right. How are you guys trying to figure out what the next big project might be?
Williams: It’s a changing landscape. You don’t get major networks doing these kind of TV series as much. We’re now in a terrain where Netflix, Hulu, Amazon are making large and small series — eight episodes, 10 episodes, 13 episodes, anthology series that aren’t set in the same place from year to year. I want to make sure we continue to have a balanced system.
What’s worked for us is we have everything shooting here as Oregon for Oregon: “Wild,” “Grimm,” “Portlandia.” They’re all shooting our place as our place. We’re not doubling as something else. That has an impact on the economy as well.
Baer: So Oregon needs to have a strong enough brand identity to carry interest?
Williams: It does. One of the things we started doing this summer is a thing called “Oregon Made”. It’s a red stamp. We want to recognize the creative media produced here. It is an export commodity. Look at the reviews [LAIKA’s latest animated feature] “Kubo and the Two Strings” got: 97-98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. You don’t get that often.
Baer: Are you worried about migration — that folks who work on “Grimm” will have to pack up and move to another production in another state?
Williams: Always, just as our counterparts in Washington, Louisiana, Georgia and California are worried about that.
We live in a world where over 30 states have different incentive programs. Producers chase that money. Where we exist is people want to work here and people want to be here. We use that, along with [the state’s lack of a] sales tax, and great locations, to find our own niche. We’re really easy to get to from the production hub of L.A. But we also have a huge amount of production generated here at the same time.