Film Gets Glowing Reception From "Cast" and Crew at Private Screening

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“People let me know my story was very powerful”

Private screening for Priced Out participants brought out the community, stirred up emotions.

This June, residents and on-camera experts involved in the documentary production Priced Out got their first chance to see the film. Their reaction? They loved it.

Priced Out held a private screening on June 28 to a packed room of about 100 guests. The audience was composed of the individuals who appeared on camera in the production and those who worked behind the scenes.   

The screening also included the short film The Numbers about East Portland, produced by Priced Out assistant producer Donovan Smith and Priced Out videographer Sika Stanton [More on The Numbers in future posts]. 

[ABOVE: Slideshow of screening and reception. Click photos to advance.]

The screening was held at Billy Webb Elks Lodge, one of the oldest continually run black businesses in the Albina Community. The screening was sponsored in part by Northwest Documentary Arts & Media.

The film is a dramatic look at gentrification in Portland over the last 15 years. It features the story of Nikki Williams, a single black mother who struggles with the pain of losing her community to gentrification.  

The audience was engrossed throughout the film’s 59 minutes.  Viewers exploded into a thunderous round of applause as the lights came up. Some wiped away tears at the movie’s poignant conclusion.

“I was very moved by Nikki; it was extremely emotional,” said Fred Leeson of the Architectural Heritage Society. “I was wondering if this woman was ever going to find peace and happiness."

Leeson appeared in Priced Out as an on-camera expert. The June screening was the first time he’d seen the film.  He was stunned at how openly Nikki shared her struggles, for good and for ill, in the neighborhood over the last 15 years. 

“She was so forthcoming with the camera,” Leeson said. “What an amazing person.“ 

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Priced Out blends Nikki’s story with the history of the neighborhood and its fate at the hands of housing discrimination and institutional racism.

Amber Dennis, an event volunteer, was paying close attention to audience reaction during the film.

“I think people felt affirmed to see the history on the big screen,” said Dennis. “There are very few places where you see the history of this neighborhood all at once. You see how discrimination, urban renewal, and gentrification all fit together and how our daily lives play a role in that.”

After the screening guests were treated to a reception where they took selfie's with director Cornelius Swart and got a chance to mingle and share their impressions.

“People let me know my story was very powerful,” said Michelle Lewis said. "They got to see me at my most vulnerable.”

Lewis, featured in Priced Out, works at Oregon Health Sciences University, but describes herself as among “the working poor.” In 2008 her family lost their home in the subprime mortgage collapse.

“The film did a good job of getting at the big picture,” Lewis said. “I think it brought people together and made them want to do something.”

Lewis felt Priced Out inspired viewers take action against the downsides of gentrification.

 “People were talking, ‘OK, how can we get together as a community to hold public officials accountable!” Lewis said.

Representatives from local grassroots groups like Young Gifted and Black and city agencies like the Office of Neighborhood Involvement and Prosper Portland (formerly the Portland Development Commission) were also in attendance. The filmmakers intend to partner with organizations that want to use the film as a tool to engage their constituents, open dialogue, and bring people into campaigns aimed at combatting gentrification. 

Lewis for one thought white and minority residents in Portland and across the country would benefit from the film’s message.

“They should see the movie,” Lewis said. “Gentrification is happening all over. It can happen to you. The film is a wakeup call!

Sneak Peak Gets Big Reception, Passionate Debate

Over Memorial Day Weekend we had a really great sneak peak screening at the Vanport Mosaic Festival. We showed a few minutes of the finished film and had a lengthy discussion with the audience about housing, social justice and the meaning of the word “home.”

SEE THE KATU STORY: Priced Out and the Vanport Festival

It was amazing to see a packed theatre at 11am on a sunny Portland Sunday, during Memorial Day Weekend no less. Folks were enormously engaged and passionate both about the history of Vanport and the issue of gentrification.

Director Cornelius Swart was on hand. He answered questions ranging what can be done to halt the current housing crisis, to whether or not Swart was himself exploiting gentrification by making this film.

It was a very dramatic discussion, just the kind we like.

We think the screening was a good indicator of public appetite for this film.

NorthEast Passage Remastered, Now on Youtube

We're happy to announce that our first film, NorthEast Passage: The Inner City and the American Dream has been remastered and made available, in its entirety, on Youtube.

Earlier this year, our distributor, the National Film Network, closed for business. They released the rights back to SydHonda Media. We took the opportunity to go back in an correct the film for color and sound, something that our production did not have enough money to do when it was released in 2002.

Not having color and sound correction may have seriously held the film back in terms of its appeal to markets outside of Oregon.  Well, we are happy that after 15 years, we've truly finished the film.  

That's thanks in no small part to Jason Wells at AudioWells and Jonnathan Boone of Boone Productions, in association with out partners at Northwest Documentary.  They did a remarkable job of working on a film that a finished and mixed down project.  That meant they couldn't go back into the original editing files to work on the media, but had to work off a final mixed file with all the audio tracks mixed together and video transitions like dissolves in place.

Not everyone embraced gentrification in North/Northeast Portland in the late 1990s, but many did welcome the new investment. Scenes from NorthEast Passage (2002).

Not everyone embraced gentrification in North/Northeast Portland in the late 1990s, but many did welcome the new investment. Scenes from NorthEast Passage (2002).

The result is impressive from a behind the scenes technical point of view.  And the end product is much more pleasurable to view.

If you haven't already, we hope you can take 56 minutes to watch this compelling portrait of what Northeast Portland was like in the late 1990s when neighborhoods besieged by crime and disinvestment many embraced gentrification and others had a sinking feeling that trouble was just around the corner.

Sneak Peek at Scenes from Priced Out at Vanport Festival, May 28

We're very happy to announce that scenes from Priced Out will screen at the this May 28.  

As you know, we've been working on the project for two years now. Priced Out is a sequel to the 2002 documentary “NorthEast Passage: The Inner City and the American Dream,” about gentrification in the late 1990s.  

Priced Out returns to Nikki Williams, a single mother featured in the first film, to document her journey as a homeowner in Portland’s only African American neighborhood.  Angered by the displacement of the black population, Williams finds herself caught between the loss of her community and the economic opportunities created by gentrification.  

We're in the very final stages of post production. Next week we expect to make the last adjustments to motion graphics, color, and sound. Then, we will have to make a very significant strategic deciscion -- submit to national film festivals and keep the project under wraps until we hear from them, or move directly to DIY distribution.

What do you think? Send us your thoughts at pricedoutmovie@gmail.com

[Above] Scenes from Priced Out: Nikki Williams in 2013, when she realized that the black community in her neighborhood had been "obliterated" by gentrification.

[Above] Scenes from Priced Out: Nikki Williams in 2013, when she realized that the black community in her neighborhood had been "obliterated" by gentrification.

Until then, we are very honored that Priced Out will be debuting scenes at the Vanport Mosaic Festival. The history of the unique housing development is closely tied with the roots of Portland's black community. Priced Out features a section on Vanport in its extensive series of historical flashback scenes.

The screening will be followed by a facilitated dialogue on community and housing hosted by the film's producer/director Cornelius Swart and Oregon Humanities.

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017, is a four-day exploration of the history and legacy of Vanport, Oregon’s second largest city wiped out by a flood in 1948. Through theater, documentaries, historic exhibit, lectures, and tours the festival honors the experience of those who lived there.


Priced Out: Selected Scenes
Sunday, May 28, 2017, 11am- 12:30pm
The Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center 5340 N Interstate Ave
Box Office at IFCC open one hour before
curtain. Suggested admission $5, Tickets


Vanport Mosaic Events page Priced Out on Facebook and Instagram

Documentary Screening: When Gentrification Was a Good Thing?

NOTICE: Venue has changed for Nov 17 show. Screening will be at Billy Webb Elk's Lodge, 7 North Tillamook, 97212. 

Was there ever a time when some Portlanders thought gentrification was a good idea, when neighborhoods said there was too much affordable housing? 

The film NorthEast Passage documented life in North/Northeast Portland in the late 1990s when crime and abandoned buildings were the neighborhood's number one concern. Rising home prices and outside investors were welcomed by many. A lot has changed for the better and a lot of mistakes were made for the worse.

Come to a screening of NorthEast Passage: The Inner City and the American Dream and participate in a panel discussion about what the lessons learned in North/Northeast Portland can teach the rest of the city. 

Screenings of NorthEast Passage are part of a drive to raise funds to complete its sequel, Priced Out: Gentrification Beyond Black and White.

For the last six months Priced Out producers have been grinding hundreds of hours of footage into 65-minute rough draft. Once editing is complete, producers hope to take the project into finishing, where audio and color are refined into a production that's ready for primetime.

“Our first film, NorthEast Passage, was very successful locally but never made it to the finishing phase,” said producer Cornelius Swart. “Taking Priced Out into finishing will allow us to get into festivals and reach a much larger audience.”

The film launched successful Kickstarter last summer that funded the start of production. Producers hope to raise new funds through a series of micro-screenings of NorthEast Passage held on the first three Thursdays in November. The event is co-sponsored by Northwest Documentary and Ignorant/Reflections's Gentrification Is Weird project.

Nikki Williams is featured in both NorthEast Passage and Priced Out.

Nikki Williams is featured in both NorthEast Passage and Priced Out.

NorthEast Passage documents gentrification long before the issue became a household word in Portland. The documentary was released in 2002 at a time when much of North/Northeast Portland was plagued by crime and abandoned buildings. Some saw the influx of new white residents and businesses as a boon for the neighborhood while others cautioned that residents could get displaced as the area's revitalization turned into gentrification.

Since that time, the black population in the core of North/Northeast has fallen by 60 percent and gentrification has swept across the city, prompting Portland’s City Hall to declare a “housing state of emergency” in the fall of 2015.

Screenings of NorthEast Passage will be followed by a panel discussion on gentrification with producers, advocates and individuals featured in the film

Proceeds from Ignorant/Reflections and Priced Out items will go to fund the completion of project.

Proceeds from Ignorant/Reflections and Priced Out items will go to fund the completion of project.

Refreshments will be on sale along with Priced Out and Gentrification Is Weird collectible items. Other donations to the project are encouraged.

“We’re considerably behind schedule,” said Swart. “But the idea that we might be able to raise money to make the project something that will really shine will make it all worthwhile.”

Priced Out, the follow-up to NorthEast Passage, began production in September of 2015 and its subject has become increasingly relevant. Producers anticipate release of the film in the winter of 2016/17.

Doors open at 6:15 pm, discussion at 8pm. Seating capacity is limited to 60 per showing; advanced ticket purchase is encouraged.

Thursday Nov 3 tickets
Thursday Nov 10 tickets
Thursday Nov 17 tickets- Change of venue: Billy Webb Elk's Lodge 7 North Tillamook St, 97212,  across the street from Northwest Doc.

Tickets $10-$20 sliding scale. Screenings at Northwest Documentary, 6 NE Tillamook St., Portland, 97212. For more information, email pricedoutmovie@gmail.com

Priced Out Screens Work-in-Progress for Elemental Technologies

Producer Cornelius Swart and Liz Scott right before screening Priced Out to approximately 150 employees of Elemental Technologies.

Producer Cornelius Swart and Liz Scott right before screening Priced Out to approximately 150 employees of Elemental Technologies.

I presented a portion of Priced Out for a lunch time gathering of about 150 employees of Elemental Technologies in downtown Portland today, Friday Sept. 29th.

I was there at the invitation of Liz Scott, an Elemental Technologies executive assistant and former intern at the newspaper, The Sentinel, that I ran in North Portland back in the day.

Scott said she was impressed with the turn out. 

“We usually don’t see so many people come out for serious social topics like this,” she said. Scott is in charge of arranging lunch time presentations for employees that can range from professional to social issues

The audience was definitely engaged. The group threw out question after question on the issue of gentrification and the housing crisis in a 15-minute question and answer session.

“I feel like I’m a part of this story,” one viewer said. “I’m glad someone is talking about this.”

It was good news for the production, in that it’s the first market test for the film and it appears that there is an audience of concerned citizens out there that want to see a film on this topic.

The painful process of storyboarding/assemble editing is now complete.

The painful process of storyboarding/assemble editing is now complete.

Elemental Technologies builds video streaming software. The company has grown from a small Portland start up to an operation with offices in eight countries. In 2012 Forbe’s ranked it among the most promising companies in America. Last year, Amazon acquired the company for almost $300 million. They continue to grow and next year they will move into the Oregonian’s old office building on Southwest Broadway.

I was impressed with how socially conscious and astute the employees were.  Not everyone can make it through a project in its rough form.

The work-in-progress was a 20-minute sample of Priced Out’s assemble edit.  The assemble edit is a raw form of a film, in which clips are assembled into the basic story shape of the project.

The assemble edit was just completed yesterday. We’ll be doing a lot more test screenings in the coming weeks as the rough cut, the next phase of editing, begins to take shape.

Paid Internship Position: Assistant Producer/Reporter

Documentary production seeks rigorous producer/reporter candidate for paid internship.

Priced Out is a documentary production about gentrification in Portland, Ore. The film is a sequel to the 2002 film NorthEast Passage: The Inner City and the American Dream.

Producers are seeking a strong candidate with documentary or journalism training to do in-depth research that includes public records requests and searches.  The position will also work closely with senior producers to manage multiple simultaneous projects, while helping to line up interviews, hunt down and acquire archival material, secure rights and other production and post production tasks.

Ideal candidate will have strong research skills and a history that demonstrates rigor, attention to detail, the capacity to work independently and the ability to drive projects to completion despite obstacles.

Term starts in early June and last through the end of August.  Full time position with a $3,000 stipend. Those earning college credit are preferred.  This internship is offered through Priced Out, in partnership with Northwest Documentary Arts & Media, a 501c3 corporation.

Contact Cornelius Swart with resume, links to past work and cover letter at cornelius.rex@gmail.com

Portland Activist Demand Higher Pay, Lower Rents, Amid Minimum Wage Vote

Cornelius Swart, producer- Protesters from Portland Tenants United, #BlackLivesMatter and other groups disrupted the Oregon Legislature on Thursday and demanded a higher minimum wage and more protections against no cause evictions and rent hikes.

After the short interruption, the Oregon House of Representatives resumed it's discussion and pasted Senate Bill 1532. The bill will raise the state minimum wage to $14.75 an hour by the year 2022, according to The Oregonian. SB 1532 now heads to the Governor Kate Brown's desk for her signature.

Protestors blocked the entrance to the Governor Kate Brown's office during demonstration at the state capitol Thursday.  The legislators voted hours later on a historic hike in the state's minimum wage. 

Protestors blocked the entrance to the Governor Kate Brown's office during demonstration at the state capitol Thursday.  The legislators voted hours later on a historic hike in the state's minimum wage. 

The legislature is still wrestling with a new set of proposals that advocates say would protect renters and provide more affordable housing in Portland and other parts of the state.

A new bill would forbid rent hikes for the first year of month-to-month leases and require a 90-day notice for rent hikes after that.  The bill would also repeal the state’s ban on Inclusionary Zoning. Such zoning would allow Portland and other cities to require developers to include affordable units in new housing developments.

The legislature has tried to repeal the state's ban on Inclusionary Zoning several times in the past and some advocates worry that the bill will be gutted to make it more acceptable to landlords and lobbyists. One proposed amendment currently circulating would significantly change how the word "affordable" is defined. 

The legislature is not expected to vote on the housing bill for at least another week. 

Video above produced by Cornelius Swart and Parker Shoaff

 

Priced Out launches IndieGoGo Campaign

"Fabled corner of North Russell Street and Williams Avenue when it was heart of a thriving black community"

We’ve launched a new IndieGoGo fundraising account for people who want to continue to contribute to "Priced Out: Gentrification Beyond Black and White."

After a successful Kickstarter campaign we’ve had multiple people reach out wanting to know how they can contribute or continue contributing to our project. 

As we’ve said before, our Kickstarter campaign was not designed to fund the entire project.  On a community-based project like this everyone is working for free or below scale. Our Kickstarter was meant to just cover some of our hard costs, equipment purchases or rentals, travel, office space, web and promotion and field-producing expenses, etc.  We continue to look for grants and we do a lot of partnering with organizations like Northwest Documentary and HackOregon to help acquire in-kind donations and other assets.

While costs continue to mount, we are trucking along just fine.  But we wanted the ability to direct people to a bucketwhere they could make a contribution now that the Kickstarter campaign is done.

We’ve set up a campaign with IndieGoGo here. You can also get it from our homepage. The IndieGoGo campaign lasts 30 days, but if we don’t reach the goal, we can still keep the funds that have been raised, unlike Kickstarter.  After that, the campaign will just turn into a bucket for contributions with no time constraints at all.

"Mississippi Avenue circa 1999, before high end shops and condos filled the street."

"Mississippi Avenue circa 1999, before high end shops and condos filled the street."

We understand this conversation on gentrification impacts large parts of our community and we want to provide a platform for those stories to be heard. All contributions go strictly toward project-related costs.  Producers Spencer Wolf and Cornelius Swart continue to donate their time to the project at no cost.