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Seattle’s Creative Community Constructs Conversation

Washington Filmworks participates in the Seattle Film Summit and relaunches Pulling Focus.

Lacey Leavitt and Ron Leamon speak on behalf of the WA Film PAC at the Seattle Film Summit.

Lacey Leavitt and Ron Leamon speak on behalf of the WA Film PAC at the Seattle Film Summit.

Washington Filmworks has had a busy week with the Seattle film community. The Northwest Film Forum set the stage for two great events that explored the business of film and the changes occurring within the industry.

The Seattle Film Summit launched the first of the two events. The Seattle Film Summit’s mission is to empower and inspire Washington state media producers, especially filmmakers, to discover and develop innovative methods of storytelling, funding, and distribution.  In its third year the Summit partnered with the Local Sightings Film Festival to bring the community a series of non-nonsense panels about the business of film.

Washington Filmworks Executive Director Amy Lillard participated in a panel on Saturday focusing on film and television production on the west coast, “From LA To Vancouver: Competition or Collaboration.” Joining Aaron Wolf (Filmmaker and CEO Howling Wolf Productions), Daniel Sol (Co-Founder and Co-Director of HollyShorts Film Festival), Rosalie Miller (Filmmaker), and moderator Stefan Hajek (Filmmaker, Wanderhouse Productions), Lillard was able to briefly discuss the production incentive program. She also detailed the Innovation Lab, a program designed to support Washington based filmmakers. Also interesting was the perspective LA filmmaker Wolf had on Washington’s filmmaking community, noticing that it promotes collaboration and positive experiences rather than fierce competition. Wolf effused how exciting and refreshing the filmmaking community is here, and how it espouses support over betrayal. Finally, the panel wrapped discussing whether Washington should promote their filmmakers across the country, or bring new talents into the state.

Following “From LA To Vancouver: Competition or Collaboration,” was a panel dedicated to the efforts of the Washington Film Political Action Committee (PAC). The group advocates for the growing film, television, and commercial industry in Washington and strives to educate the community and legislatures about the industry’s state and needs. WA Film PAC leaders Ron Leamon and Lacey Leavitt, and longtime film advocate James Keblas, were on hand to explain how the group promotes Washington State as a diverse and ideal environment for production and how important it is to have the industry advocated on its own behalf. Senator Jeanne-Kohl-Welles also participated in the conversation to give some Olympia insight and important information on how to approach elected officials about the film industry. WA Film PAC is doing very important work on behalf of the statewide film industry. Check out their website for more information.

Amy Lillard moderates a panel full of marketing expertise.

Amy Lillard moderates a panel full of marketing expertise.

Last night, Washington Filmworks re-launced “Pulling Focus” in Seattle, a series about the business of film with a discussion entitled “The Brave New World of Content and Commercials.” Lillard moderated a panel of advertising personalities – Paul Mattheaus (Chairman and Founder of Digital Kitchen), Lara Johannsen (Creative Manager at Wong Doody), Matt Peterson (CEO of Creature), and Norma Jean Straw (Director of Content Development, B47 Studios). The discussion explored the shifts caused by digital pipelines in the marketing world, and how the traditional model of 15 and 30-second commercials is now deemed antiquated in favor of bold and boundary-breaking content-marketing. Mattheaus noted the challenge today is how to engage audiences with a brand by not interrupting them, as commercials often do. He explains that artists (filmmakers, designers, etc.) are now at work with agencies, trying to create content with relevant meaning to not hook or catch consumers, but create genuine interest. Johannsen agreed, saying that companies hire highly creative individuals to think flexibly for each client and brand, and highlighted the interactivity at play in content-marketing. Citing Starbucks™’s YouTube channel in which several stories were told in several countries, Johannsen argued that branded entertainment models often change based on consumer habits – the more involved and active watchers get, the more interactive and dynamic the content becomes. Straw added to Johannsen’s perspective, saying that a prominent goal that pops up in this new environment is to balance the paying brand’s values with a key, original, and striking ways to reach audiences. Peterson thinks this new system comes down to one word: content. Agreeing with his peers, he sees branded entertainment as an opportunity to move out of the old format and tell deeper and fuller stories, assuring his client and consumers that it’s quality rather than interrupting noise. Altogether, the panelists concluded this new world of content and commercials is full of mutual opportunity – brands learn how to publicize and promote their products in a bold new way, while agencies employ gifted artists to make it happen.

The next of the Pulling Focus series will be in Spokane on Thursday, November 6th, with independent film producer Lacey Leavitt (Laggies, Lucky Them) on how to get your story from page to screen. Preceding the event will be a Town Hall meeting focused on lobbying and supporting elected officials.

Innovation Lab: Meet the Jury

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 hs

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.


Petter_11052011_0025-Redigera-2-2Tracy 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.

Lab_LineS_HeadshotLine 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.

Announcing the Innovation Lab Results


Contact: Andrew Espe / 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.


Celebrate the Premiere of Series Z NATION with a Glimpse of its Local Cast

Photo courtesy of Oliver Irwin

Photo courtesy of Oliver Irwin

Z Nation, a project incentivized and supported by Washington Filmworks (WF), is set to premiere on the Syfy Channel tonight at 10/9c. The zombie-thriller series has garnered national buzz and quite a bit of local interest, given the project’s funding assistance by WF and its summer shoot in Spokane. In anticipation of its premiere, George Riddell over at Media Inc. has an article featured about the assemblage of its cast – although the show includes Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do!) and Harold Perrineau (Zero Dark Thirty, Lost), it also stars a trio of Washington-based actors in lead roles. Pisay Pao, Nat Zang, and Russell Hodgkinson are the series regulars representing the Evergreen State. Take a look at Riddell’s piece to become familiar with these local actors and see how Washington continues to breed some serious onscreen talent.

Also, here’s a peak at the filmed-in-WA sci-fi series:

Seattle Film Community Discusses the Future of Film with Mayor Murray

This May film industry professionals representing the Seattle film community met with Mayor Ed Murray to discuss the future of the film in Seattle. Mayor Murray was thanked for his two decades of support for our industry as a State Representative and Senator in Olympia. The group asked for the Mayor’s continued commitment to advancing the industry in Seattle and Washington State.

Seattle film community representatives meet with Mayor Ed Murray.

Seattle film community representatives meet with Mayor Ed Murray.

The meeting was an important step in setting a prioritized agenda for film in the city. Mayor Murray was engaged and committed to helping create a long-term sustainable film industry in Seattle and Washington State. The group discussed a wide range of issues including statewide film incentives, Commercialize Seattle, and the need to expand the film permitting capacity at the Seattle Office of Film + Music to help keep the film production process nimble and responsive. Representatives who met with Mayor Murray encouraged his office to focus on the following action items: Read More…

Production Incentive Feature Film ONE SQUARE MILE Wraps Principal Photography

Drama about reluctant mentor and his troubled protégé stars Kelly Blatz, Richard Jenkins and Kim Basinger. 

Seattle, WA – September 5, 2012– Washington Filmworks’ production incentive project One Square Mile, starring Kelly Blatz (Prom Night), Academy-Award® nominee Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, Burn After Reading) and Academy-Award® winner Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential, 8 Mile) just wrapped principal photography in Seattle this past week.  The feature film was written by Josh Campbell and Jeff Van Wie and directed by award-winner Charles-Olivier Michaud (Snow and Ashes, 2010 Slamdance Film Festival Grand Prize).  The film shot for 25 days at locations throughout Seattle such as Fishermen’s Terminal, the Ballard Locks, Rainier Beach and Garfield High School. Read More…

Breaking News: House Passes Film Bill – 92 to 6

The House of Representatives passed E2SSB 5539, the bill to renew the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program, with a vote of 92 to 6.  Governor Gregoire has 20 days to sign the bill in to law.  We will let you know as soon as the bill signing is scheduled.

Tonight’s victory in the House is a tribute to the passion and dedication of our industry.  Thanks for all of your effort and here is to the future!