Mr. Schpak, The Next Generation

How Andrew Schpak is helping save Hollywood … the theater

Published in 2009 Oregon Rising Stars Magazine

Andrew Schpak, a 29-year-old employment law associate at Barran Liebman, grew up in Los Angeles, where his father is a teacher and his mother designs and manufactures props and jewelry for movies and television. If you’ve been to the movies in the last 30 years, you’ve probably seen her work. She made the championship belt for Rocky, the tiaras in The Princess Diaries, and the pirate coins for Pirates of the Caribbean.

Her talent meant one thing to young Andrew: “There were only two years during my entire, you know, kindergarten-through-eighth-grade period, where I didn’t win best [Halloween] costume.” One year, he dressed as Mr. Spock from Star Trek, “with the red, button-up jacket, white around the collar, phaser on the belt and weird-looking dress pants. … Yes, I did have the pointy ears.”

That particular costume choice had less to do with fandom than with an unfortunate coincidence in names. “Schpak,” he says. “You basically take away the ‘h” and it’s [Mr. Spock’s] name. My rationale at the time was: If I just dress up as Spock, that might let people get it out of their system so they don’t call me that as a nickname anymore.”

Sounding almost Vulcanish, he adds, “Obviously that was faulty logic.”

Schpak joined the board of Film Action Oregon, a local nonprofit arts organization, in 2006, partly because of this connection with the movie industry. He’s now its president. “I like the fact that they support local filmmakers,” he says. “They also have the education side for kids getting into making films. And then they have a local movie house.”

The Hollywood Theater, built in 1926, is a landmark in Portland’s Hollywood District—named for the theater—where independent films and second-run features are shown for roughly half the price of multiplex tickets. It’s a neighborhood theater, a dying breed, and in need of refurbishment.

The group received a grant from American Express, mainly to refurbish the iconic red-and-white “Hollywood” sign that towers over the neighborhood. The inside was delayed, he says, “because the economy took this big, ugly downturn.”

In February, the Hollywood Theater is the site of Oscar Night America, a fund-raiser with live feed. It’s sanctioned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Schpak adds, so “we get the actual programs that are given to the people who are there at the Kodak Theater in L.A.” A red carpet is rolled out and local drag queen Darcelle interviews attendees.

And how does this young lawyer, who is co-chair of the ABA-Young Lawyers Division and president of the Multnomah Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, handle the Oscar pool? “I’ve been one or two [guesses] off from prize contention both times,” he says. This year he has no early predictions, but he was speaking during the summer. He also pleaded marriage: “My wife likes to make sure we see all the romantic comedies.”

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