OMPA Interviews Producer Darren Demetre

An interview with OMPA member Darren Demetre.
| By Lisa Cicala

Thumbnail photo: Darren Demetre and Joe Hardesty, Co-Executive Producers of American Vandal Season 2, smile on set. Photo courtesy of Darren Demetre.

OMPA had a great time visiting the set of season 2 of Netflix’s American Vandal series. The CBS / Funny or Die production recently took over Mount Hood Community College, so we chatted with producer and OMPA member Darren Demetre, who was coyly tight-lipped about the new crime that this mockumentary will aim to solve, but did divulge that his crew was filming several styles of footage with multiple units shooting simultaneously.

“This show is particularly taxing because we’re off and running at least two units if not three units at a time,” Demetre explained. “We’re shooting on six different camera formats, all sorts of crazy special effects and things that are happening. It’s a very demanding show. And cell phones because of what the content is and how they want to deliver it. Since it’s supposed to be a documentary, content’s supposed to come from found footage to surveillance footage, to verite-style footage shot on the reds. When the show airs, I can tell you a little bit more, but there’s been some wacky, wacky moments to say the least.”

Juggling all those film formats and multi-unit work, Demetre praised the depth of talent in this community.

“I’ve really worked hard to encourage and push to hire locally, because I think not only do we have the people that are talented and justified into that, but they just know the town better, they know the people better,” Demetre said. “There’s a better shorthand when you do that and I’ve always found that no matter which city I go to. Even when I was doing Lean on Pete, and GRIMM was going on, and Portlandia was going on, and The Librarians was going on, we still managed to crew up Lean on Pete with a top-notch crew and made an amazing, beautiful, stunning film. I was so proud of that movie and everybody that was involved in that - just an incredible experience.”

Another reason Demetre loves filming here, aside from sleeping in his own bed every night? The almost unbelievable range of locations that the Portland area affords.

“I think that it has a lot of different looks that are available here. It can play Midwest, it can play East Coast. It’s film friendly, so you can still go to a neighborhood and people welcome you to film here. You can go downtown to shoot and the city is accommodating. You can go to other areas like Clackamas or Gresham, all sorts of places, and they want you here. A lot of cities tolerate you to be there. Beyond shooting in Portland, I’ve been out to Burns, La Pine, Fort Rock, Oregon City… [and] every area around in Oregon that I’ve been to, people just welcome you. They’re there to help. They’re interested and enthusiastic about what we do and how we do it."

Although his crew on American Vandal was 90% local - even the cast, which clocks in at a whopping 107 speaking roles! - he’s never had a hard time selling Portland to out-of-towners.

“Everything you would imagine in terms of resources are here, maybe not to the great degree like you have in Los Angeles or Atlanta or New York," Demetre explained. "But you can get everything you need to here to make a movie or a tv show from cameras, to grip electric, to camera cars, to cranes, to drones, nice hotels, great restaurants. And we have great crews. You have a world class group of professionals here that other smaller cities don’t have.”

Some of those world class professionals Demetre singled out include casting work by Lana Veenker, backgrounding by Adam Rosko, and drone footage by ATI.

Season 2 of American Vandal will hit Netflix this fall, but you can stream Season 1 now on Netflix, which is also where you’ll find another of Demetre’s local productions, Everything Sucks! Congratulations to the whole AVS2 cast and crew, who wrapped on March 29th!

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