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Homer Groening, Oregon filmmaker

February 12th, 2010 by Anne Richardson · 5 Comments · Oregon director, Oregon filmmaker, Oregon producer

One name kept coming up. Ellen Thomas said “Homer Groening”. Will Vinton said “Homer Groening”.Bill Plympton said “Homer Groening”. What was the question?  Dennis and I were asking them who we should know about in Portland film history.

From the Seattle Times obituary for Groening, in 1996.

Homer P. Groening was born Dec. 30, 1919, a U.S. citizen in Main Centre, Saskatchewan, the son of Mennonite farmers. He spent his youth in Oregon.

He earned the rank of Eagle Scout and was a co-founder in 1936 of Camp Pioneer at the base of Mount Jefferson. He graduated from Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., in 1941.

He met his wife, Margaret, at Linfield. They married in 1942.

Mr. Groening flew a B-17 over Europe during World War II and participated in the D-Day invasion, winning a Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the war, he returned to Portland and joined the Botsford, Constantine and Gardner ad agency as a production assistant.

He was called up again to fly transport planes in Korea.

Upon his return, he became a vice president at the ad agency, working on accounts such as Jantzen, Pendleton, Olympia beer, Idaho potatoes and Western Hotels. He started his own agency in 1958.

“He was an absolute creative genius,” said former Advertising Federation President Mick Scott, who worked with Mr. Groening to found the American Advertising Museum in Portland.

When film caught his interest, he taught himself the craft.

“He was a one-man show,” said his daughter, Lisa. “He did the producing, writing, shooting, sound recording, editing, directing and narrating.”

Among his film clients were Jantzen, Timberline Lodge, Johnson Motors, Eastman Kodak and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

He won numerous Golden Eagles, given by the Council on International Non-Theatrical Events (CINE), and awards from the Advertising Association of the West and the American Film Festival.

He produced a string of films about water in all its forms, including “Get Wet,” “Getting Wetter,” “Psychedelic Wet” and “Study in Wet.”

Mr. Groening’s son, Matt, said he received creative encouragement at home, in part because his father was a cartoonist himself. Mr. Groening took colored pencils and sketch pads home to his five children. He would make up the beginning of a story and his children would finish it.

When young Will Vinton stood in Portland with his brand new Oscar in 1975, wondering if he should stick around, he took a page from Homer Groening, and decided to stay.

One consequence of that decision…..

Travis Knight and Mark Gustafson next month will be in LA nervously waiting for the moment they open the envelope for Best Animated Feature. Both artists are former Will Vinton Studio employees, mentored by Will, who was in turn inspired by Homer.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Barbara Drake, Homer Groening, 1959 | Oregon Movies, A to Z // Feb 12, 2010 at 11:43 am

    [...] ← Happy Valentine's Day/Not an Oregon film Homer Groening, Oregon filmmaker [...]

  • 2 Tim Smith // Jun 10, 2010 at 12:22 am

    Get a copy of the film Homer Groening did for Timberline lodge. A really weird piece about the lodge but includes my father Lendon Smith diving backwards in the pool at Timberline. I forget the name of the film, but people still remember it. Shot in color and shows Timberline as it was in the late 50s.

    Homer G. also shot the promo trailer for the film with Tony Curtis: “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.”

    He had an amazing collection of 35mm and 16mm cameras, lenses and sound recorders (Nagra) and anything a young filmmaker would need to produce a film.

  • 3 Dan Fiebiger // Nov 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    And if course, Homer Groening is the namesake for Homer Simpson, now famously co-created by Homer Groening’s equally accomplished son, Matt Groening.

  • 4 A Student’s View Of Linfield College (1973) | Oregon Movies, A to Z // Apr 15, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    [...] Homer Groening’s success as an independent commercial filmmaker made it possible for him to moonlight as an independent experimental filmmaker.  This 1973 promotional film for Linfield College, his own alma mater,  is one of his commercial jobs. [...]

  • 5 Will Vinton Talks | Oregon Movies, A to Z // Dec 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    [...] and industrials, but with the intention of growing to do entertainment. . Anne Richardson: Homer Groening set up his own advertising agency in 1958. Were you aware of him? . Will Vinton: Oh yeah. In fact I [...]

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