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The Portland Business Journal Interviews Juliana Lukasik: Setting The Scene On Several Fronts

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Digital Managing Editor – Portland Business Journal – Andy Giegerick

Juliana Lukasik on film, empowering women and the Central Eastside

The newest Oregon Film Board member realizes she’s assuming a role once held by a Hollywood legend.

Yet Juliana Lukasik remains undaunted. The principal and director of Portland’s @Large Films will replace Ed Asner (he of “Lou Grant” and “Up” fame) on the board that’s charged with enhancing the state’s media scene.

“Those are some big shoes to follow, but he’s done an outstanding job on the board and he’ll be very much missed,” said Lukasik, whose company produces commercial films and videos. “I can’t compete with the star power that ‘Lou Grant’ has. He’s been an amazing asset to the board.”

That said, Lukasik isn’t above taking on big projects. She’s served as president of the Central Eastside Industrial Council, which is fighting to both retain the inner Southeast Portland district’s character while expanding its commercial prospects.

She’s also working on several projects — including Girls Inc., ChickTech and an @Large effort that encourages job Portland Business Journal Juliana Lukasik Interviewshadowing — designed to help women navigate business mazes.

Is the Film Board appointment something you’d chased? Yeah, I pursued it. Part of what the board does, which is really important, is going after work like TV shows and series and movies. That’s important, but I’ve also noticed that there’s not enough attention paid to local companies like mine that are here 365 days a year and employ people year-round. My mission is to make sure we’re supporting Oregon-based companies. That’s why I wanted to get on the board.

Yet shows like “Leverage” and “Grimm” have probably upped the talent level among crews, right? There’s also a new Dean Devlin (the “Leverage” producer) series coming, called “The Librarians,” that’s in active production now. Shows like that have raised the quality of the crew people. That’s why companies like mine support the idea of having these features and series in town.

What do you hope to achieve on the Film Board? More workforce development. There’s currently not enough of a process for apprenticeships and teaching in our industry, having the key people teach the next group of people. They shouldn’t have to do that on the job and do that with no structure. For example, Benson (High School), which is in my district, is a trade school. We could have programs there that develop the technical side, such as for grips and electricians.

That’s a great idea, to do it at Benson. There’s a huge opportunity. We also recently met with (Portland City Commissioner) Nick Fish, who’s the arts commissioner. He’s interested in bringing film and video into the creative services sector (meaning it would receive more formal Portland Development Commission support). These would all be critical, because, with “The Librarians,” we’ll have three active shows at once, and that’ll make it difficult for companies like mine to get the crews.

You were on our Women of Influence panel last year (as the small and medium business Executive of the Year). That panel was fascinating in that it shined a lot of light on the struggles women face in corporate circles. The market numbers are staggering. In advertising, only 3 percent of creative directors are women. For feature films and commercial and TV directors like me, it’s only 5 percent. Yet women make the buying decisions 85 percent of the time.

Which explains why you’re working on the job shadow program. One of the things I feel like is a problem is that a lot of people talk about wanting to have more women in creative leadership roles, but they don’t do anything about it. The action I took is, every time I direct, I’m going to have a female film student there with me. The whole time I was coming up, not once did I see a woman direct. This is a way to show students what it means to direct and also, what it means to sometimes run an entire set of men, getting men to listen to you and be a part of your team. That’s a big call. A lot of women are intimidated by that.

It’s almost like that’s as much a part of the job as the actual creative work. There are subtleties with how we as a society communicate. A young girl who’s nine or 10 years old and is telling her classmates what to do is considered “bossy.” If a boy is doing it, he’s “showing leadership skills.”

You’re saying this, yet you’re not saying it in a way ­— your tone of voice, that is — that makes you seem like a crusader. I’m really passionate about it. I have an innate desire to give back to my community. I was born with that, and my dad really nurtured that. I’d like to do this full time, but I have a national company to run.

You’re no longer president of the Central Eastside Industrial Council, but I imagine you’re keeping pretty close tabs on activities within the district. Yes, the one to watch now is that the city is studying our district, how it is zoned and developed. I am staying very involved in that process. The Urban Land Institute studied the (business district, which sits immediately across the Willamette River from downtown Portland) and confirmed that we keep the area the way it is, as an industrial heartland. It was a great study and the city should be excited about it.

Is there any reason to believe they’re not? My concern is that the city won’t listen to us. It’s been suggested that they’re more interested in housing than we are. We do have (zones) that are primed and ready for housing, but residential doesn’t fit well in an industrial district.

So it should become more of a second central business district instead of a second Pearl District. Yes. We have the Pearl and South Waterfront. All around this district, there’s plenty of residential that’s close-in. This should be an employment district.

Juliana Lukasik

Title: Principal/director at @Large Films

Education: Bachelor of Arts degree, Oregon State University

Board work: Past president of the Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA), current past president of Central Eastside Industrial Council (CEIC), current board member for Oregon Film Board

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On March 7, 2014

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