Golden leaves floating down to the ground, cool and chilly mornings, pumpkin spice lattes – these are things you might typically associate with fall. But, in our frenzy of a film world, this means that festival season has begun! Three particular film festivals – the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, the Tacoma Film Festival, and the Orcas Island Film Festival – are about to kick off their respective programs with stunning lineups and exciting events. Washington Filmworks interviewed the festival directors about the identity and state of their organization, as well as to get a glimpse of what audiences can expect this year.
2014 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (SLGFF): October 9-19
Executive Director: Jason Plourde; Festival Director: Kathleen Mullen
WF: The Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival is heading into its 19th year. How has the identity and brand of the festival changed from its inception to 2014?
Jason: Our organization, Three Dollar Bill Cinema, was founded to produce the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. And while it remains our largest program, it is just one of our year-round events. The size and scope of the festival has certainly evolved. In the first few years it was held in one cinema for seven days. Now we’re over 11 days at multiple venues and we’re able to show four times the amount of films. I think we’ve become a go-to festival for quality programming, fun guests, and great parties!
Kathleen: This festival has garnered national recognition for showcasing extraordinary and award-winning work, and it is a festival with a very loyal audience in a city that is excited about cinema. The LGBT community has really built the festival into THE event of the season. Many folks from all walks of life come out to attend and have a great time.
WF: In terms of programming, what can audiences anticipate and expect this year? What are your ‘must-sees’?
Kathleen: Audiences can anticipate 15 stellar shorts programs and an amazing collection of documentaries and features. Our Themes in Focus include World Watch, BFFS (Best Friends Forever), Local Connections, and Influential Women. We have a Thrive@5 series where all films are $5 at 5 PM. Some of these highlights include a transgendered love story, the documentary Off Road, and Alec Mapa: Baby Daddy. Alec Mapa will be in attendance. A major highlight of course is our Opening Night film Back on Board: Greg Louganis with Greg Louganis and Director Cheryl Furjanic in attendance. Our Centerpiece galas include the moving Blackbird starring the Academy Award® winner Mo’nique; the humorous and winsome Sundance hit Appropriate Behavior; and the intense and provocative Match, starring Patrick Stewart and Matthew Lillard. Lillard will be here along with director Stephen Belber for that screening. We close the festival with the comedy Life Partners about a gay woman and her best straight friend, played by Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) and Gillian Jacobs (Community). And our parties are definitely “Don’t Miss” events, particularly our Club King After Party at Re-bar, put on by the infamous club promoter (and Seattle native) Mario Diaz!
WF: How do you two specifically see SLGFF benefiting the community, and what’s your vision of the festival as it enters its third decade soon?
Kathleen: For LGBTQ people a film festival like ours gives an opportunity to feel that you are part of a larger community, and to be able to see yourself and your experiences onscreen—to have characters and narratives that you can relate to. And it gives everyone a chance to see LGBTQ films that open another world or make you think about the issues in our community and in the greater LGBTQ world. It’s a unique forum for queer artists and filmmakers to show and discuss their work as well.
Jason: I see us continuing that mission and building on the support we can give to filmmaking happening in our local community.
SLGFF runs from October 9-19, and more information is available on their website.
2014 Tacoma Film Festival (TFF), October 9-16
Festival Director: Laura Marshall; Marketing Director at Grand Cinema: Zach Powers
WF: How did the Tacoma Film Festival originate, and what factors promote Washington’s film culture?
TFF: TFF was started in 2006 by the Grand Cinema’s Executive Director at the time, Shawn Sylvian. They played 55 films within the course of a week including local films – one a documentary about Thea Foss who created the first maritime service to cross the Port of Tacoma. TFF is the leading programmer and presenter of new South Sound films and of the over 100 films selected annually for TFF, usually over a third of those are films by Pacific Northwest filmmakers.We make promoting Washington films one of our top priorities, programming them at prime hours in venues where we believe they will have the highest potential to draw great audiences. We also work very hard to pitch our Washington selections to the media who cover TFF.
WF: What is particularly exciting about this year’s lineup?
TFF: TFF is growing exponentially and we’re extremely excited to welcome one of the most accomplished and beloved film critics of our time, Leonard Maltin, to this year’s festival. Almost our entire staff has read at least one of his books and his reviews are read and watched widely by our patrons at The Grand Cinema. It will be the first time that TFF and The Grand have welcomed a film personality of this prestige to Tacoma and we’re hoping that Leonard will be the first of many. As not only a television personality, but also a critic, historian and scholar of film, Leonard very much embodies the culture of film dialogue, education and exploration that we try to cultivate at both TFF and The Grand.
WF: What is your vision for the future of the Tacoma Film Festival?
TFF: We see TFF as a celebration of independent film mirroring Tacoma’s diverse and eclectic sensibilities. Now in its ninth year, we see the festival as an established and highly valued regional arts event, but each year our staff pushes ourselves to expand programming, find even better films and try to promote the festival to even more cinephiles both in Tacoma/Pierce County and beyond. Bringing in a major special guest this year in Leonard Maltin is a major expansion in programming and we’re sure it’s something we will be doing more of. TFF will always prioritize celebrating local film, but part of how we do that is holding up the best of local film right alongside the best of national and international indie film. As we grow we’re able to be increasingly selective in the national and international films we program and we’re able to book increasingly prestigious filmmakers and personalize to headline our events. In that way TFF is very much a formally “local” film festival in the midst of transitioning to the much more exclusive rank and file of “regional/national” film festival.
WF: How do you see Tacoma benefiting from the festival?
TFF: Tacoma’s arts scene is extraordinarily vibrant, home to a cadre of award-winning major arts organizations as well as thriving DIY film, visual arts, and music communities. You’d truly be hard pressed to find a city of 200,000 residents anywhere in the world indulging in such a passionate love-affair with the visual and performance arts. That said, because we’re not an enormous city we don’t have a ton of overlap in terms of who does what for major arts programs and events. The Grand Cinema is the flagship for independent film programs and TFF is its biggest event of the year and is by far the largest film festival in Pierce County. Any city as arts-centric as Tacoma deserves to have a great film festival, so not only does Tacoma benefit by having one, we feel a great honor to deliver a film festival befitting of our city’s arts scene. TFF is also an event that unites multiple centers for arts and culture as in addition to The Grand Cinema, TFF screenings are also held at The Museum of Glass, University of Washington Tacoma, and Tacoma Community College.
TFF runs from October 9-16, and more information is available on their website.
2014 Orcas Island Film Festival (OIFF), October 10-13
Co-Producer and Creative Director: Jared Lovejoy; Artistic Director: Carl Spence
WF: This is the first annual Orcas Island Film Festival. What was the impetus and motivation behind it?
OIFF: The San Juan Island Archipelago and, in particular, Orcas Island is an incredible cinematic environment. The Islands are also known for being supportive of the arts and progressive issues. Most importantly, there is a longtime cinema – The Seaview – on the island along with other great vibrant venues such as the Orcas Center which provide a strong foundation for the community to come together and showcase culture from around the world.
WF: How would you describe the character of your festival?
OIFF: The festival is a community effort put together entirely by volunteers that are passionate about film. We want to highlight films that push the edge and promote ideas that can illuminate and provoke discussion, debate, and, at the same time, entertain.
WF: Besides it being the first year, what kind of exciting films and events can audiences expect?
OIFF: We’ve put together an extraordinary line-up of films from 17 countries in our first year including 4 Academy Award® Submissions for Best Foreign Language Film from three continents: Chile (To Kill a Man), Spain (Living is Easy with Eyes Closed), Canada (Mommy), and Belgium (Two Days, One Night). A definite must see highlight is the audience award-winner from the most recent Toronto International Film Festival – The Imitation Game – which many critics are already touting as one of the best pictures of the year with standout performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. The film will be released in Seattle on Christmas Day. [There are also] fantastic documentaries looking at a wide-range of topics from the Yogi that brought Yoga to the US in the 20s (Awake: The Life of Yogananda), to the music shaman who resides on Orcas Island (Song of the New Earth) to a magical and quirky look at garden obsessed lovers – literally and figuratively – in Finland (Garden Lovers), amongst other fascinating topics. Renowned filmmakers with films in the festival include Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Xavier Dolan, David Trueba, Lynn Shelton and Lucas Moodyson, amongst others.
WF: What are your hopes and vision for the Orcas Island Film Festival in the future?
OIFF: Our hopes are for audiences to discover this magical place and setting and to see films that can also provide an equally rewarding experience. [We’d love] to expand the filmmaking opportunities as well as support film culture – the free exchange of ideas [that] build a stronger community on and off the island.
WF: What do you hope to achieve, this year at least, with the new festival?
OIFF: To provide the foundation for an annual event that will bring people to Orcas and provide filmmakers with an opportunity to share their work with audiences and each other.
OIFF runs October 10-13, and more information is available on their website.
Make sure to check out these three distinct and rousing film festivals, in addition to many more happening this time of year – Ellensburg Film Festival, Renton Film Frenzy, Seattle Latino Film Festival (SLFF), Seattle South Asian Film Festival (SSAFF), Maelstrom International Fantastic Film Festival, North Bend Mountain Film Festival, Seattle Polish Film Festival (SPFF), Seattle Social Justice Film Festival, Quick Shot Film Festival, Tri-Cities International Film Festival (TCIF3), Gig Harbor Film Festival (GHFF), Irish Reels Film Festival, Bleedingham Film Festival, Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival, Friday Harbor Film Festival, Olympia Film Festival, 48 Hour Horror Film Project: Seattle, and Seattle Shorts Film Festival!
Washington Filmworks recently announced the recipients of funding assistance from the Filmworks Innovation Lab. In case you missed it, here is the press release detailing the recipients and their outstanding projects. But we omitted one crucial aspect of this year’s lab purposefully – because we believe they deserve a post for themselves.
Washington Filmworks could not have had another edition of the Innovation Lab without the help from our amazing, hardworking, patient, and passionate jury. Composed of a group of industry experts that represent all aspects of motion picture production, multi-platform storytelling, and emerging entertainment models, our jury was committed and invested each step of the way. It’s with our deepest gratitude that we acknowledge and thank these brilliant members of the film industry who remind us of the drive, intellect, and heart of Washington’s production community.
Steve Edmiston – Steve is an intellectual property, entertainment, and business attorney, and was named one of “Seattle’s Best Lawyers” by Seattle Met Magazine. He was the co-founder of Front Porch Classics, a Seattle game company, and StoryBox Studios, a toy and game industry consulting firm. Steve is the creator of numerous award-winning board game titles, including the FamilyFun Magazine’s 2003 Toy of the Year, Dread Pirate. He created the game Master and Commander in conjunction with the 20th Century Fox film release. Steve is also an independent film veteran, as an artist and producer. He wrote and co-produced the feature Crimes of the Past (2010) (starring David Rasche, Elizabeth Rohm, and Eric Roberts, which premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network and was distributed by MarVista Entertainment and Osiris Entertainment), wrote and co-produced the multiple award-winning feature A Relative Thing (2005) (Sedona Film Festival Audience Award, Official Best of Fest, Audience Award, Gig Harbor Film Festival, distributed by Spiritual Cinema Circle, Filmgo, and Official Best of Fest), and co-wrote the award-winning feature Farewell to Harry (distributed by Porchlight Entertainment and Questar). He has two current feature films as a writer, director, and producer, in post-production: The Periphery Project, Volume I, in post-production and set for release in late 2014, and The Periphery Project, Volume II, scheduled for release in 2015. He has also written and directed numerous award short films including The Maury Island Incident (Washington State Innovation Lab Recipient; Opening Night Gala, 2014 Big Island Film Festival; N.Am. premiere Seattle Int’l Film Festival; launched as IndieFlix Original Series coming 2014), The Day My Parents Became Cool (Best Short Comedy, 2009 International Family Film Festival, 2010 Best Film, KidsFirst! Film Festival, KCTS 9 broadcast premiere), Thr33 (Best Film, 2008 New York Diesel Grand Prix Film Race), and Look Listen Live (2010 John and Jane Q. Public Communication Award). Steve teaches screenwriting for short films at the University of Washington, and is a faculty member at the Seattle Film Institute, teaching in the Master’s program (MAPF 553 – Marketing and Distribution, and MAPF 557 – The Business of Producing). He serves as an advisor to several film festivals, including the Port Townsend Film Festival and Gig Harbor Film Festival. He has served as a juror for both documentary and narrative short films. Steve has presented film industry related programs to the Seattle International Film Festival, Women in Film, Northwest Film Forum, Gig Harbor Film Festival, 253 Film Collective, and many others.
Michael Pickering – Michael Pickering, a partner at Comrade Studios in Spokane, has been a Producer, DP, and Director in commercial advertising for over 20 years. In his spare time, Michael shoots stills with a decidedly low-tech Polaroid camera and produces documentaries and narrative shorts.
Tracy Rector – Tracy Rector is the Executive Director and Co-founder of Longhouse Media and an independent filmmaker. After having worked with over 2,500 youth, since January of 2005, Longhouse Media has seen the artistic and community growth of many young native filmmakers. Tracy is a Sundance Institute Lab Fellow, is the recipient of the Horace Mann Award for her work in utilizing media for social justice, and is currently an Arts Commissioner for the City of Seattle.
Line Sandsmark – Line Sandsmark is Development Director at Northwest Film Forum, and brings 15 years of film industry experience with her from Scandinavia, where she produced and/or executive produced a long list of short and documentary films in her roles as CEO of her own production company, Kaliber, and Executive Director of the Western Norway Film Centre. She produced for the pan-Scandinavian Svensk Filmindustri (SF), then headed European Documentary Network (EDN) prior to her return to Seattle in 2010. Other experience includes festival and film school selection committees, jurying for both grants and festivals, including Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival. Her short films have competed in festivals all over the world, including Cannes, Mannheim-Heidelberg, Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, and have been broadcast internationally. Sandsmark earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Literature at University of Washington, completed a second Bachelor’s through post-graduate studies in Critical Theory and Film Analysis at the University of Paris – Sorbonne, and has studied screenplay development with USC teaching staff, under the auspices of the Binger Institute in Amsterdam.
Returning tonight is the Local Sightings Film Festival, hosted every year by the Northwest Film Forum (NWFF) in Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Local Sightings gathers together and showcases new films from talents all over the Northwest (from Alaska to Oregon) for audiences, allowing them to experience the wonder of homegrown and emerging artists. NWFF Program Director Courtney Sheehan has worked hard to produce this year’s festival, which includes a number of screenings from the region’s most distinct artists. In addition, Sheehan has assembled artist talks, performances, networking events, and parties for this year’s festival, as well as the expanded and week-long Seattle Film Summit with panels on topics ranging from filming all across the West Coast to the strategy of the Washington Film Political Action Committee (PAC).
Even with so much excitement and activity going on, Sheehan kindly took the time to sit down with Washington Filmworks and discuss Local Sightings 2014’s lineup, events, and conferences.
Washington Filmworks: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat about Local Sightings 2014. This is the 17th year of Local Sightings – what does that mean for the Northwest Film Forum and the filmmaking community of the Northwest?
Courtney Sheehan: Seventeen years ago, NWFF was known as Wiggly World – a group of filmmakers who ran the Grand Illusion and supported local film production in whatever ways they could. The internet had not yet radicalized how people make and watch movies, and films were still shot and shown on film. Ten years ago, 16 of the films in Local Sightings were projected on 16mm film! The program for this year’s festival reflects what has changed and what has stayed the same both for Northwest filmmakers and at NWFF. While very few movies today are shot on film, more movies are being made – this year we’re showing twice as many feature films as we did ten years ago. NWFF remains a hub for community gatherings, but the content of conversation has transformed. This year’s Seattle Film Summit includes topics on the gaming industry, DIY distribution and publicity strategies for the startup era. This is also the first year Local Sightings includes a program and discussion on interactive and multi-platform work. Boundaries between media forms are blurring, opening up new opportunities for filmmakers in other fields – and new ways for organizations like NWFF to support independent film and media makers.
WF: In addition to the screenings, what exciting talks and panels can audiences anticipate this year?
CS: The opening night puts the emphasis on the people that make up this community by introducing the filmmakers before we screen their films. Attendees will get to hear from director and producer of Bella Vista, the opening film, before it screens the following night. Speakers from the Seattle Film Summit will give a glimpse of what’s in store during their panel discussions. Director, teacher, and choreographer Dayna Hanson will share highlights from the dance film class she’s teaching this season. Then, DJ Sharlese Metcalf from KEXP’s Audioasis will be spinning on the staircase in the lobby, and the new local brewery Outer Planet will make sure everyone’s thirst is slaked.
We are also hosting a free education open house and showcase of student work recently made in classes at NWFF. People can come and talk to instructors about their upcoming classes, and even sign up on the spot. There’s also a fantastic workshop being offered during the festival with Caryn Cline. Students will learn the ‘botanicollage’ technique used by filmmakers like Stan Brakhage, which entails creating handmade film frames using local botanicals – another fun local connection. The final product from that workshop will be screened the next day alongside a program of other experimental work, including Brakhage’s – and multiple films will be shown on 16mm.
Before the closing film and party, folks can gather for a Town Hall discussion hosted by the Seattle Film Industry Caucus. It’s a great opportunity for filmmakers to recap everything that was seen and discussed during the Seattle Film Summit and festival, and to let us know how we can best support their work. Then our last big party is right around the corner at Vermillion. Vermillion owner Diana Adams’s commitment to supporting local artists has truly set the standard on Capitol Hill. Naturally, her spot is one of the last bastions of bonafide cool in the Pike/Pine corridor.
WF: What are the largest benefits of hosting this festival every year – what impact does it have on the film culture of Washington, specifically?
CS: I recently looked back at the festival lineup from ten years ago and noticed many familiar names: Megan Griffiths, Drew Christie, Lynn Shelton, Web Crowell, Bret Fetzer. As a platform for discovery, Local Sightings actively cultivates new film culture. You can look at the programs from year to year and track the development of new filmmaking voices in the region.
Here’s a story that quite directly illustrates the impacts the role that the fest has on the production of new work in WA state. Two years ago at Local Sightings, Brian Perkins won best short for his film The Heavens. He began developing a feature and when he needed a leading man, former program director Adam Sekuler connected him with Zach Weintraub (Local Sightings was the first festival in the US to screen Weintraub’s films). Together they made a feature that is premiering in Local Sightings this year.
Another example – local filmmaker Zeek Earl was on this year’s Filmmaker Magazine list of 25 New Faces of Independent Film. I met him at a party in his honor, where he told me he used to be a Local Sightings intern! Now we’re the Seattle premiere of his latest short, Prospect.
And it’s about more than discovering individual voices. It’s also about discovering opportunities for connection within and across communities. As the only festival in Seattle dedicated entirely to local and regional film, Local Sightings is the meeting grounds for film artists and professionals to connect with their neighbors – from across I-5, and even across state and national borders. Ideally, a screenwriter learns about a new area of opportunity in the city’s thriving gaming industry. A director-writer-producer-editor at a crossroads gains some insight from hearing Megan Griffiths and Tony Fulgham share their take and experiences with balancing artistic practice with commercial work (an idea that will be explored in-depth on a panel in the Film Summit). An audience member’s heart is moved or her mind is bent or her worldview is broadened. It all starts with coming to the movie theater to discover a new film, a new experience, a new friend.
WF: Are there any exciting Washington-based filmmakers emerging this year?
CS: Kara Schoonmaker and Anna Conser’s 30-minute Maureen is a pure surrealist magic, with exquisite set design. Andrew Finnigan’s debut Koinonia creates an effective dystopian atmosphere with a tiny budget – it’s a true accomplishment. High schooler Abbey Sacks is definitely one to watch – her short Connie shows a grace few filmmakers strike upon so young. Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell are on Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and their work has been strongly supported by SXSW. Arts scene fixture Greg Lundgren has made his first film, a one-take feature carried wonderfully by the performance of one non-actor.
WF: Finally, this year’s fest is going on in conjunction with the Seattle Film Summit – what can the filmmaking community expect from combination?
CS: Each edition of the Seattle Film Summit has been held at NWFF as a partnership during Local Sightings, and this year we have deepened and expanded upon that collaboration. In addition to the main day of the Summit on Saturday the 27th, panels will be hosted throughout the festival. We have an all-star lineup of speakers and we can’t wait to unleash their expertise. We have reached farther into area media companies to bring in professionals from the design, tech, and gaming industries so filmmakers can get an even wider shot glimpse of developments in the creative industries.
We are extremely grateful to Courtney Sheehan for taking the time to share some incredible information and insight into Local Sightings 2014. The festival runs September 25th – October 4th at the Northwest Film Forum, and more information on the 10 day event is available on the festival’s website.
About Courtney Sheehan, Northwest Film Forum Program Director: Courtney Sheehan is program director for Northwest Film Forum. She has curated film programs and produced events for theaters and festivals on three continents. On a year-long Watson Fellowship, Courtney investigated the organizational structures, community roles, and programming strategies of twenty film festivals and media centers in India, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia. As a journalist, Courtney has covered film events ranging from the world’s largest documentary festival (IDFA in Amsterdam) to South America’s largest animation festival (Anima Mundi in Rio de Janeiro) and her publications include Bitch Magazine, Senses of Cinema, The Independent, and NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies.
Paul Matthaeus (Digital Kitchen, Chairman and Founder), Lara Johannsen (Wong Doody, Creative Manager), and Norma Jean Straw (B47 Studios, Director of Content Development) lead the panel and guide us all into this fresh and shifting world.
Wednesday October 1st marks the return of Pulling Focus in Seattle, an exciting and informative series exploring the business of film. This particular event, set to take place during the 17th annual Local Sightings Film Festival at the the Northwest Film Forum, is an insightful look into the changing world of commercial production and their clients.
We used to take commercials for granted. Fifteen to thirty seconds, pushing a product with minimal dialogue and lots of visuals it was common, normal, and routine. But here we are, in 2014, and commercials are breaking boundaries. Clients are changing their needs, and so are consumers. Welcome to the world of redesign and branded entertainment, we will help you speak its language. Join us for a panel exploring content-marketing and how businesses are joining up with production companies and agencies to engage consumers through fresh, bold, and sexy ways of storytelling. You’ll hear from fascinating professionals on what client demands entail, why Commercialize Seattle is leading the charge, and how large businesses, local crews, and everyday consumers are affected.
The panel will be moderated by Warren Etheredge, host of “Reel NW” and Editor-At-Large of Media, Inc.
We encourage guests to continue the conversation after the panel at a cocktail reception hosted on site.
Tickets are available at http://pullingfocus.brownpapertickets.com/
They are $15, or $10 if you are a member of or affiliated with any of the organizations listed below.
This edition of Pulling Focus is hosted by:
This panel in partnership with:
It is produced by:
Mark your calendars for Wednesday, October 1st, to receive first-hand insight and expertise from the industry’s finest on this fascinating new world of content and commercials.
New Latest Work
Congratulations to Mike Folden Productions, a production company based in Seattle. They are now featured in the Latest Work section of Commercialize Seattle. This business development campaign is designed to drive production and advertising to the region and the Latest Work section of the Commercialize Seattle website showcases some of the very best commercial work coming out of Seattle and Washington State.
Explain yourself, Mike Folden Productions: I think of what I do as creative consulting. Ultimately, people come to me with a problem and I help them figure out how to solve it using creativity. The product happens to be video but often I see stories that the client doesn’t even know exist within their own organization. I help bring out those stories and bring them to life.
Why Should You Submit New Work?
When we’re out selling the region as one of the best places in the world to make commercials, we point people to the Latest Work section on the Commercialize Seattle website to show them what we can do here! The campaign highlights locally made commercials and is a hub where brands and agencies look to find great talent. Local production companies and ad agencies should register and learn more.
We frequently showcase new work, so get registered and submit. Then we can show you off to the world. Remember, advertising is the best thing any of us can do!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Andrew Espe
Andrew@WashingtonFilmworks.org / 206.264.0667
Washington Filmworks Announces Funding Assistance Recipients
For 2014 Innovation Lab
Program designed to support Washington filmmakers using new forms of production and emerging technologies
Seattle, WA – September 23, 2014 – Washington Filmworks is pleased to announce the recipients of funding assistance from the third cycle of the Filmworks Innovation Lab. The program, which is part of a long term economic development strategy, invests in the future of film by capitalizing on Washington’s creative community and artists while encouraging original storytelling that uses new forms of production and technology. Following a “Pitch Session” of the program in which finalists presented new business and revenue models that leverage Washington’s film infrastructure in the digital era, the jury made their official recommendations and the Board has approved their decisions. Washington Filmworks is pleased to announce that $75,000 has been allocated to three exceptional projects.
The following is a list of projects that have been approved for funding assistance and the teams associated with each production. Also included are a brief synopsis and jury statement for each project:
This Brute Land Virginia – Neil Ferron (Writer/Director) and Ali el-Gasseir (Producer)
Synopsis: This Brute Land Virginia is a genre-blending short film set in a 17th-century pilgrim colony. An erotic thriller, a period piece, and a sci-fi-horror film, this short film fuses the elegance and tension of these genres into an original and engaging story. The short will be the flagship project of a larger franchise of art projects and digital content that includes work connected to the original story (such as a smartphone game) as well as content that moves beyond the film (minimalist fashion accessories, a comic series, and other forms of visual art).
Jury Comments: “Director Neil Ferron and Producer Ali el-Gasseir are part of an emerging collaborative art movement that characterizes the creative essence of Seattle. All of the artists working on the short film This Brute Land Virginia bring a wealth of experience in their own discipline into a new constellation, each of them representing a key element of great cinema. Their version of history is mutated and allows the audience to explore a universal story through an irreverent, queer point of view, all done with a pilgrim minimalist aesthetic.”
Wallflower – Jagger Gravning (Writer/Director) and John W. Comerford (Producer)
Synopsis: Wallflower is a harrowing drama based on actual events. The film tracks the journey of young people pursuing catharsis and joy confronted by a force of evil who has been invited into their midst. The story unfolds through a survivor coming to terms with her life in the wake of tragedy. Wallflower is a feature-length film that will tie into a non-fiction book written by Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Richard Adler and a documentary web series on the roots of America’s ongoing rampage-shootings.
Jury Comments: “With a script based on the true story of the 2006 Capitol Hill Massacre, the written support of a survivor for the feature film Wallflower is just one reason to tell this compelling story. First time Filmmaker Jagger Gravning has assembled a strong team of producers including John W. Comerford and Robinson Devor, both of whom are industry veterans who provide a solid foundation for success. The compelling visual style of Cinematographer Joriah Goad will undoubtedly bring a lush, visual artistry to the production.”
War Room – Peter Adkison (Director/Executive Producer) and Kim Voynar (Producer/Art Director)
Synopsis: War Room is a short film set in Chaldea, a unique fantasy world that borrows heavily on real-world mythology and history. Legatus Reiswitz Gustavus, commander of an Imperial Legion, seeks out the help of a toy maker to create exquisite toy soldiers for use in war games designed to train officers and save lives in a bloody world conflict that looms on the horizon. The Chaldea series will tell an epic fantasy story in multiple platforms (including digital graphic novels) with its tableau of memorable characters, dramatic through-lines, and high fantasy.
Jury Statement: “A short film that intersects seamlessly with a digital graphic novel, War Room will treat audiences to a fantasy world filled with dragons, orcs, swordsmen and powerful female knights. Executive Producer and Director Peter Adkison brings a strong business plan and years of industry experience and success in gaming to this project. With universal themes that touch on loyalty, friendship, truth and consequences, fans can look forward to many years of storytelling from this dedicated and passionate team. This piece serves as the introduction to a grander vision to be produced on a digital platform that will appeal to the geek in all of us.”
Washington Filmworks worked with a dedicated jury to evaluate projects and select funding assistance recipients from a pool of applicants. The jury is comprised of industry experts, representing all aspects of motion picture production, multi-platform storytelling, and emerging entertainment models. Final decisions were based on the merits of each project and its investment in Washington State, and each finalist pushed the boundaries of motion picture production and proposed creative revenue models and multi-platform options. Washington Filmworks is especially grateful for the dedication and guidance of our jury.
“We are passionate about this program because it represents the future of filmmaking in Washington State,” said Amy Lillard, Executive Director of Washington Filmworks. “These three projects are exciting and captivating, full of stunning originality and integrity. They think outside of the box with fascinating multi-platform variety and lead the digital revolution in the entertainment industry. Utilizing and applying exciting business models and technological advancements, these three projects are economically stimulating and assert film as the cornerstone of Washington’s Creative Economy.”
About the Innovation Lab: The Filmworks Innovation Lab is designed to invest in our local creative community and to encourage the development of original storytelling that capitalizes on new forms of production and technology. By leveraging our existing film infrastructure and the diversity of our in-state technology resources, Washington is uniquely positioned to incubate a groundbreaking digital entertainment platform that fosters a new Creative Economy for Washington State. More information on the Innovation Lab here.
About Washington Filmworks: Washington Filmworks’ is the non-profit 501 (c)(6) organization that manages the state film office and production incentive programs. Our mission is to create economic development opportunities by building and enhancing the competitiveness, profile and sustainability of Washington’s film industry. We do this by creating possibilities for local and national filmmakers and offering comprehensive production support as well as financial incentives.
The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) welcomes back their annual mini-festival, Women in Cinema! The program kicks off tonight at the newly renovated SIFF Cinema Egyptian on Capitol Hill. Audiences are thrilled, curious, and excited about this year’s lineup – especially Beth Barrett, SIFF’s Programming Director who helped select the films.
“I’m excited about all the films, but of course Lynn Shelton’s new film Laggies is a high point,” Barrett says. Shelton’s new film, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and just screened again at the Toronto International Film Festival, tells the story of a young woman (Keira Knightley, in a rare non-period piece role) whose life becomes complicated after deflecting her boyfriend’s proposal and opting to hang out with a group of teenagers (led by Chloë Grace Moretz) instead. The film, which shot in and around the Seattle area last summer, received funding assistance from Washington Filmworks. Tonight will be the official Seattle premiere for this local gem, which is sure to kick the festival off with emerald pride.
Although Laggies is a slice of Seattle life, Barrett adds that Women in Cinema “is a really international festival,” noting that the lineup includes films from the Philippines, Norway, Argentina, Germany, and Denmark. In addition, the program has a selection of strong documentaries like The Last Hunt, Misconception, and Stray Dogs (from Debra Granik, the filmmaker behind Winter’s Bone), and audiences can expect an outstanding four days. “Seattle audiences are very smart about the films they watch,” Barrett notes, “and the Women in Cinema films will entertain, challenge and inform. They’re slices of what is happening right now in cinema around the world, that happen to be made by women.”
However celebratory the festival is, there seems to be the underlying reminder that there’s still a ways to go regarding female representation behind the camera.
“I wish that there was not a need to put on a festival specifically of films made by women – instead it would be great if there were gender equity in film,” adds Barrett, “The truth is that women filmmakers are still very much in the minority, and by bringing this festival to Seattle, we are given both a chance to celebrate great films and to support women working in the field. It is always a pleasure to engage with great film and with eight filmmakers here for the weekend, [it’s] a great chance to meet a diverse group of filmmakers.”
And in order to make it happen, Barrett is pleased to have two solid partnerships by her side.
“Once again, we are working with Women in Film Seattle to present a panel about making great film on Sunday (9/21) morning, and this year, we’re working with NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented youth) to spotlight young women filmmakers – the next generation!”
Celebrating the work and women of film today and tomorrow, SIFF’s Women in Cinema Festival is sure to be an enjoyable and enlightening four days of cinematic bliss.
SIFF’s Women in Cinema Festival runs from September 18th-21st. It kicks off with Lynn Shelton’s Laggies at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian tonight, and runs all weekend long with screenings at the SIFF Cinema Uptown. To see the schedule and find out more information, visit the festival’s page.
Check out the official festival trailer:
About Beth Barrett, SIFF Director of Programming: Beth has worked for SIFF in the Publications and Programming Departments since 2003. She is responsible for managing all aspects of film programming, the staff of film programmers, and securing films and guests for the Festival. Beth is also instrumental in the programming and management of SIFF Cinema and SIFF’s other year-round programs. An aficionado of short films, she secured SIFF’s status as an Academy Award® qualifying festival in 2008. Beth has been in Seattle for over 20 years and holds an MA in Northern Renaissance Art History.