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Chel White Talks: Why Portland?

December 6th, 2012 by Anne Richardson · No Comments · Interviews

Chel White was already a filmmaker when he arrived in Portland in 1985. Oregon Movies, A to Z asked him about what happened next.
Anne Richardson: I have read that you came to Portland specifically to work for Jim Blashfield. Is that correct?
Chel White: I moved to Portland in May of 1985 because of a girlfriend who was from here and wanted to move back.  Finding out that there was a thriving animation community in Portland was a happy accident.  It was a little before I arrived, but there had been this group called the Animation Collective that included Jim Blashfield, Joanna Priestley, Rose Bond, Laura DiTrapani, and possibly Joan Gratz and Will Vinton.  Within a couple months of moving here I went to a screening in which a few of these folks (Jim, Joanna, Rose and Roger Kukes) showed some new work and talked about their creative process.  I was especially taken with Jim’s SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES. It wasn’t until a year later that I actually met Jim, then within a few more months, was working for him on the Paul Simon music video.
Anne Richardson:  You came and you stayed. How important was your decision to relocate to Portland, in terms of the overall forward progress of your career?
Chel White:  As far as staying in Portland, within a couple years of being here I realized I had made a good choice.  I had lived in San Francisco before and I found I had more creative dream time in Portland because the cost of living was so much cheaper here.  I could eke by working just part time, at least until I had kids.  Then the jig was up and I had to buckle down.
Anne Richardson: Is there any one single Portland influence which has shaped you, more than any other?
Chel White: Jim Blashfield and Gus Van Sant (who I met in 1986 and started working with in the early ’90s) were the closest things I had to mentors.  I learned the most from them.  The other big thing that kept me here was Portland’s proximity to nature; all kinds and in every direction.
Anne Richardson: Thank you, Chel.
To see where Chel White fits into Portland film history, consult Portland Monthly’s handy Film Family Tree.
Check out his latest:
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