News

PSU Students Create Promotional Films About St. Helens
Author: Nicole Thill, Pamplin Media
Posted: September 25, 2017

Read the original story here.

Students at Portland State University have been working with a Chapman-area film producer to create a series of promotional short videos geared towards marketing St. Helens as a weekend travel destination. 

Over the past year, film producer Brian Trenchard-Smith has been working with several students at PSU students to produce short films to be featured online, including several pieces that feature businesses, attractions and activities in St. Helens. 

Trenchard-Smith has an impressive cult following. A short list of his nearly five decades in the TV and movie industries include "BMX Bandits," starring a young Nicole Kidman, and "The Man from Hong Kong." His repertoire also includes films like "Drive Hard," "Dead End Drive-In," "Leprechaun 3," and has directed episodes of TV series "The Others," "Flipper" and "Silk Stalkings." 

He has been widely cited as one of the favorite filmmakers of Quentin Tarantino, the actor director popularly known for "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs." Tarantino named Trenchard-Smith his favorite "obscure director" in a 2004 Entertainment Weekly. 

The videos, which are roughly one-minute each in length, feature St. Helens as a welcoming destination for day-travelers from the Portland area to visit. 

Last week, the city of St. Helens released the first video, titled "Fall in Love with St. Helens," on its YouTube channel. The video features shops, restaurants, parks and other activities a couple could do on a first date. 

Christina Dodge, a Hillsboro resident and recent PSU graduate, produced the film and said she drew inspiration from things she would have done with her husband if they came to St. Helens for an afternoon. Dodge was most attracted to the abundance of outdoor recreation activities and the historic areas of town, like the Riverfront district. 

"I loved the charm of the old town and the theater, especially being a film student, and that old-town-theater feel — it was something that would anchor a downtown," Dodge said. "It looks like the city is trying to maintain that downtown vibe and I wanted to highlight that feeling." 

Next on the docket are two films created by Hannah Petersen, a Scappoose resident and senior at PSU. The films feature activities organized around Fourth of July and a general feature piece about unique new businesses in town, like a new arcade on Columbia Boulevard and a wine tasting shop on 1st Street a highway traveler might overlook. 

"When you just drive through the town on, you don't see all the stuff downtown," Peterson said. "And this shows that there is a lot to do here that you can't see."

The video series project was first conceptualized by Trenchard-Smith after a candid conversation with St. Helens Mayor Rick Scholl earlier this year. Several years ago, when Trenchard-Smith moved to the area, he recognized the charm and character of St. Helens, but could see how the closure of the Boise Inc. mill in 2008 caused economic trouble for the city. 

"It's picturesque and it's charming and I think it should be getting more tourist attention than it is," Trenchard-Smith said. 

In his opinion, something needed be done to support small businesses by attracting visitors to the city. By happenstance, Trenchard-Smith and Scholl ran into each other and struck up a conversation about ways to promote the city and began discussing the video project. 

Using his own connections with a professor PSU,  Trenchard-Smith began recruiting students willing to volunteer their time over the summer to shoot the videos for the city to use promotionally. 

"Hopefully, the loyal inhabitants of this district will see this as a benefit," Trenchard-Smith said. 

Petersen and Dodge said they not only enjoyed getting to work in St. Helens, but also enjoyed getting to work with Trenchard-Smith. 

"It's been really nice to get an actual professional opinion," Peterson said. "It's been a good learning process to know how to do it while you're filming. ... He's also told me some fun stories about working on the set." 

Dodge said working with a filmmaker who was dubbed a Tarantino-favorite was not an opportunity she could pass up. 

"That's something that you're not going to learn in film school," Dodge said. 

To see the films, check out the city of St. Helens' YouTube channel, "We Are St. Helens."