Notes from the road: a guest post from Portland

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

As Portland, OR gears up for yet another screening of Revenge, local EV'er and filmmaker J Bills recounts the scene at the Portland premiere back in November: 

Here in Portland, we still talk about the last time Chris Paine rolled through town with a movie; an early screening of 2006’s seminal “Who Killed the Electric Car?” that rallied the local electric army and provided a slingshot of momentum as the film hit the circuit. So you can imagine the buzz around town as we braced for the next installment. We were good & ready for REVENGE!

Long recognized as an EV hotbed alongside our brethren Seattle and San Francisco, Portland never disappoints when it’s time to round up and roll out. Members of the EV scene here were out in full force to support the November 4th premiere of “Revenge of the Electric Car” at the historic Hollywood Theater.

As Paine arrived to the theater, he was greeted by a parade of EVs. Local enthusiast Steve “LEAF” Erickson led the charge of electric conversions and the trail of early-adopter factory EVs across town and down Sandy Boulevard, finishing in front of the theater as Paine looked on. A proper road rally!

Local electric utility PGE generously sponsored parking for the event and rented out the rooftop parking deck next to the theatre. Free parking for any EV. As you can imagine, this was an impressive “lot” to say the least! A parking garage full of EVs couldn’t help but give people walking from their cars a new level of the famous “EV grin.”

As expected, both screenings with Paine presenting were completely sold out, and it was a mob scene of EV-ers and “civilians” alike with the admission lines snaking around the building.

Under the marquee, local EV manufacturers Arcimoto and Green Lite Motors lined up their production prototype “trikes” as eye candy for the anxious ticket holders. Arcimoto’s and Green Lite Motors’ Presidents, Mark Frohnmayer and Tim Miller respectively, joined industry heavyweights like Otmar Ebenhoech (Zilla Controllers) in attendance. Everyone who’s anyone in the Oregon sustainable business sector was there to catch the film and the post-film Q&A.

Speaking of the prototypes, several high school students and passersby were ogling over the Arcimoto, and I overheard one of them say it looked “wicked” and “like something out of Tron.”

As if that weren’t enough to get pulses racing with anticipation, also on display out front were a bevy of Tesla Roadsters, the PGE Nissan Leaf, and to round things out, Chris Paine & brother Nels arrived in a cherry Chevy Volt.

Organizers and city officials closed off the street adjacent the theater and held a veritable EV street fair including many of Portland’s own “EV Celebrities” and their exotic creations. Hometown hero John Wayland and the one and only White Zombie - the world’s quickest street legal electric drag racing car - headlined the display.

E-bikes from the Alberta E-bike store joined flawless MG, Porsche and Fiat convertible EV conversions among the Teslas, Volts and LEAFs that offered a taste of things to come in the film. The EV wagon train encircled andlassoed their extension cords into the Oregon State University Solar Charger, which had made its way up from Corvallis, OR earlier in the day.

Soon the crowd made its way in. The lights dimmed, the curtains parted, and Paine gave us all a show.

What a fantastic ride! No spoilers here, but not only is this film a snapshot of the EV’s triumph and history in the making, but an introspective look into the mind of a CEO and exactly what goes on behind closed doors at the world’s most forward thinking automotive manufacturers. We laughed, we cried… but most importantly, we got REVENGE! Given what some of the conversion folks especially have been through over the years to create and keep their cars on the road, this film serves as a “finish line” landmark for many of us. Sweet vindication!

Afterwards Paine took questions and spoke at length about the state of the industry as well as the challenges of production.

The next morning, Paine and his film were off to the next destination... another day, another stop on the whirlwind Revenge Premiere Tour. But the evening and the film undoubtedly left its mark on Portland and has given us another epic night to talk about for years to come.


We thank you for the continued inspiration, ingenuity, and courage. On behalf of all of us in the EV scene here in Oregon: Chris Paine, you make us proud!

Portland area residents can attend the annual upcoming EV Celebration Day (formerly EV Awareness Day) Saturday, July 14th, 2012 9am-5pm at Pioneer Courthouse Square, followed by an EV car show and free screening of Revenge of the Electric Car, Sunday July 15th at the Bagdad Theater (Car show at 6pm, film at 7pm)

*photos courtesy of Benjamin Reed

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