An Oral History of How Pigs, Sublime Films Shot and Set in Portland

The making of one of the year’s best films, Pig Streaming, is a tale of taking big risks to tell a humble story. The film stars Nicolas Cage, in a role where his character isn’t built on the foundation of a boisterous performance, but of smaller, quiet scenes that are no less impactful. The director didn’t know Cage would be a part of it, or that it would catch on how it did. Yet it has done just that, resonating with audiences who have connected with how Pig handles grief and the idea of whether you can find a new life for yourself after losing everything.

Set in Portland, it follows Cage as Robin “Rob” Feld, an acclaimed chef returning to the city where he used to work. It is a heartfelt, delicately paced film that traces the path of Rob’s old life in order to recover the one thing he still cares about: his beloved truffle pig. The film’s use of Portland is a rarity: city in the northwest actually plays itself, as opposed to just being Vancouver in disguise. The location, with the past it represents for the character, is a crucial part of the narrative— the area’s culinary history which Rob has defected from is actually baked into the meaning of the film. Note: Le loup et le lion 2021 Streaming 1080p

So how did this unexpected film come to be such a profound piece of art? This is the oral history of how Pig, a film told in three parts that resemble the course of a meal, was created and shared by the people that crafted it: writer-director Michael Sarnoski, writer-producer Vanessa Block, editor Brett W. Bachman, as well as composers Alexis Grapsas and Philip Klein. Note: Le Dernier duel 2021 Streaming 1080p

Part 1: It all started in search of a truffle pig
The decision to set the film in Portland was one that originally stemmed from practical considerations. After being inspired by a photo of a man he had seen on a porch with his truffle pig, Sarnoski had to consider where there would be someone working with a porcine friend to gather the edible fungi. Note: Eiffel 2021 Streaming 1080p

“There was a brief moment early in coming up with the movie, where I was wondering ‘Should this be in France? Should this be in Spain?’ But it felt very important that it take place in the states,” Sarnoski said. “The Pacific Northwest is one of the few areas where there actually is a truffle industry, where the truffles grow naturally.”

In Oregon, truffles are an entire industry where the expensive delicacy can cost up to $800 a pound. It was that reason that Sarnoski initially looked to the area, though he soon found himself drawn in even beyond that.

“The more I researched Portland and the culture and the places there, it just became a character of its own,” Sarnoski said. “Vanessa Block and I started taking some trips up there to scout spots and to write certain specific places into the script.” Read More: Freda 2021 Streaming 1080p

For Block, the connection between the texture of the city and the brokenness of a character wandering through the echoes of his past was critical to creating a feeling of a larger-than-life myth.

“Portland really represented this amazing collision between commerce, city, food, but then also the scenic beauty of wilderness and a way to exist on the fringes of society,” Block said. “We wanted the film to be this marriage between something very grounded and naturalistic, always knowing that we wanted to give it this heightened, not quite full magical realism quality, but just this mythic fable-like quality.”

Block said the film was crafted so that it felt like Rob is passing through various “realms” after emerging from the wilderness outside the city to return to his old haunts. Note: Julie (en 12 chapitres) 2021 Streaming 1080p

That’s where editor Brett W. Bachman came in. Bachman grew up just outside of Seattle, which contributed to him coming up with the idea to have Cage’s character say “Fuck Seattle” at a key moment.

He is no stranger to working on a project in which Cage starred, having edited the visually striking films Mandy and Color Out of Space. He also worked on the outstanding character-driven horror The Vigil from last year.

Bachman’s work guides our journey from the outside world surrounding Portland into the “realm” of Rob’s old life, fading across shots of the connecting struts of the Broadway Bridge into the landmarks of the city. The famous “Portland” sign that is displayed outside the historic Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall makes an appearance as Rob looks at how the city has changed, just as he has too, since he has been away.

“The approach came from a desire to put us in Rob’s subjective state, what he would be feeling at that moment,” Bachman said. “We had quite a bit of coverage of driving through downtown at night and the lights and the bridges. We could have taken an approach of straight cuts, but we were thinking we wanted something different, something that would have a bit more of an impact. Something that was a bit more subjective and oddly terrifying and hallucinogenic in a way.”

The realms of the films are also established in the film’s musical composition by Alexis Grapsas and Philip Klein. The duo worked to create a differentiation in the score between the natural wilderness and the man-made world of the city.

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