BHS Students Nominated for Awards of Excellence

The Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) has announced nominees for the High School Awards of Excellence. These awards celebrate the most outstanding student productions from five Northwest states: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. Productions are nominated by NATAS industry professionals.

Students from the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program earned eleven nominations, more than any other school or organization in the five-state region. The winners will be announced next Saturday, June 6, at the 52nd Annual Regional Emmy Awards ceremony. Ballard’s nominations span six categories, reflecting the diverse skills students learn in the program. These are the nominations by category.

SHORT FORM FICTION:
Fly Me to the Moon by Miles Andersen, Jasper Cote, PJ Hase & Gideon Wolfe
Stolen by Coleman Andersen & Leo Pfeifer

SHORT FORM NON-FICTION:
Audio Input by Duncan Boszko, Jack O’Neal, Piper Phillips & Sho Schrock-Manabe
GeoFORCE: A Journey to Understanding by LeoPfeifer & Raven Two Feathers
Raven Rock by Rachel Cole, Jaya Flanary & Meagen Tajalle

LONG FORM NON-FICTION:
Clipped Wings by Coleman Andersen, Duncan Gowdy & Leo Pfeifer

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:
Food Lifeline by Duncan Gowdy, Leo Pfeifer & Zach Green
Membership by Ruby Anderson, PJ Hase & Cameron Miller

PHOTOGRAPHER/EDITOR:
Clipped Wings by Coleman Andersen, Duncan Gowdy & Leo Pfeifer

WRITER:
Clipped Wings by Coleman Andersen, Duncan Gowdy & Leo Pfeifer
Stolen by Coleman Andersen & Leo Pfeifer

This makes the ninth year in a row that Ballard High School film students have been nominated by the Academy. Last year they also received 11 nominations, and won the categories of Short Form Fiction and Photographer/Editor.

Meanwhile, Ballard students led the pack of winners at the Northwest High School Film Festival. Twenty-five high schools were in competition for awards in twelve different production categories. BHS film students won 15 awards and honors across seven categories. The awards were presented, and the winners screened, at the Cinerama Theater in downtown Seattle.

New productions by students in the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program will be screened at the Ballard Film Festival on Friday, June 5th at 7 pm in the BHS auditorium. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults.

For more information about the program, visit bhsvideo.blogspot.com.

Mark Your Calendars: The 23rd Portland Jewish Film Festival

PJFF

Explore the global diversity of the Jewish experience with an exciting roster of films that will delight, provoke, move, and inspire from June 14-28, 2015.

The 23rd Portland Jewish Film Festival will host 18 features at this year including: East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem, a riveting documentary about Israeli musician David Broza and his efforts to bridge Israeli and Palestinian tensions through music; The Mystery of Happiness, director Daniel Burman’s delightful hybridization of buddy movie, detective film, and romantic comedy tropes; the Opening Night selection Magic Men, a road trip comedy that pairs an aging atheist Holocaust survivor with his estranged Hasidic rapper son; and Dough, a comedy set in a failing bakery where intergenerational and cross cultural solutions just might save the day.

The 23rd Portland Jewish Film Festival is produced by the Northwest Film Center and co-presented with the Institute for Judaic Studies.  While the Festival specifically celebrates the diversity of Jewish history, culture, and identity, these films and the stories they tell also resonate beyond their settings and speak to experiences and issues that confront our common humanity.

For complete film listings and more information, click here.

The Innovation Lab: Shaping the Future of Film

By Andrew Espe Washington Filmworks

Washington Filmworks just completed the Spring 2015 cycle of the Innovation Lab, and is pleased to announce the recipients of funding assistance. 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. Funds have been allocated to two exceptional projects, Automata and Strowlers.

“I am so pleased with the decisions of both the jury and the Board of Directors,” said Washington Filmworks’ Executive Director Amy Lillard. “The projects selected for funding represent interesting and cutting-edge business models that will truly shape the future of film and the creative economy in Washington State. We look forward to partnering with these extraordinary storytellers as they make their projects over the next year.”

Van Alan

Van Alan

Automata is a comic property created by Penny Arcade, a Seattle–based web-comic conglomerate. It is a serialized science-fiction noir comic set in an alternate 1930s Prohibition-era New York City. In this alternate history, it is not alcohol that is illegal, but rather the continued manufacturing of highly intelligent robots known as automatons. Former police detective Sam Regal and his robot partner Carl Swangee tackle cases involving the seedy underbelly of New York City. While they work to solve the case, they also work to understand each other in this dystopian America. The project is to be written and directed by Van Alan, and produced by Will Lummus.

“It feels great to be supported by such a remarkable incentive program [that] will allow our production to recoup certain expenses to achieve the highest quality possible, while also creating and maintaining jobs in the state,” says Alan.

He adds that the Innovation Lab was a good fit with his project because of their inclination towards emerging technologies. “It’s a great fit because Automata is a known online comic with a built-in audience that should find lots of support in the digital world. Producing our project as an online web series is the only way that made sense to us.”

Up next for the project, says Alan, is creating a 1930s New York—with robots.

The jury was quite keen on the project, saying, “The filmmakers have scripted a pilot that has the potential to engage a global audience and achieve mainstream success by fully revealing the complex relationship between a human detective and his brilliant automaton, who seek only to help the helpless in a despairing world.”

Ben Dobyns

Ben Dobyns

Strowlers is a shared multi-platform world from Zombie Orpheus Entertainment. Set in the modern day, it tells the story of the misfits, outcasts, artists and activists who exist on the magical fringes of society. Released under a Creative Commons share alike attribution license—which allows any creator to make and sell works based in the Strowlerverse—ZOE is currently developing the first round of short films and webisodes that will introduce the fantastic, magical and unexpected world of the Strowlers. The project is to be directed by Ben Dobyns.

According to Dobyns, being approved by the Innovation Lab is “a fantastic vote of confidence in local innovation and risk-taking, a big financial boost, and a good incentive for us to stay on schedule!”

Dobyns insists Strowlers must engage constantly with technological innovation. “Our project requires a marriage of content and technology to create a seamless multimedia experience for an audience that won’t just be passively consuming what we create, but rather will be creating their own works within the world.”

Up next for the project is finding the right partnerships to bring it to the widest possible audiences.

The jury describes Strowlers as “defined by magic and rebellion,” saying that “this Strowlerverse is the blending of traditional storytelling and crowdsourced creativity. [It leaps] forward into an entirely new model of global engagement with viewers and creative collaborators.”

Washington Filmworks is especially grateful to the Innovation Lab jury for their hard work and dedication. The jury is composed of gifted film industry professionals, including Steve Edmiston, Line Sandsmark, Tracy Rector, and Chris White.

Applefield Named as Interim Helm at OMPA

By Mary Erickson Oregon Editor

With nearly two decades working at the intersection of Oregon media industries and government affairs, Nathaniel Applefield has helped to build economic and political support for filmmaking in the state. Now he’s taken on a new role as Interim Executive Director of the Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA), following the February 2015 departure of former Executive Director Tom McFadden.

Nathaniel Applefield

Nathaniel Applefield

Applefield’s career in the local film industry started with brief work on a short 8mm film in the late 1990s, but he moved into political campaigns for the next decade. In 2011, he became the Executive Director of Portland’s AFTRA branch (which soon became SAG-AFTRA). As the organization underwent successive downsizing, initiated by SAG-AFTRA’s head office, Applefield began to shift his focus over to the OMPA. He started working with the OMPA’s Government Affairs Committee and soon started on the Board of Directors.

As the industry in Oregon has grown, Applefield has worked to gain visibility for many of the industry’s workers. During his tenure on the OMPA Board, he grew the number of Source Oregon’s listings of performers from 120 to 1,200. He spearheaded organizing the Media Production Industry Day event in 2013, held in the Salem Capitol. This crucial, industry-wide lobbying effort brought over 120 industry professionals to the Capitol to meet with legislators. “When we got our stakeholders taking on an ownership role,” says Applefield, “we were able to do something amazing.”

Now Applefield is in the midst of steering the OMPA after McFadden’s departure. “Tom’s successful service saw many accomplishments,” confirms Applefield. “For one, he doubled the membership numbers of the OMPA” during his seven-year tenure. This growth means that the OMPA needs to start honing its long-term vision, starting with a Board strategic planning retreat in May to jumpstart the conversation.

Another of the OMPA’s most immediate activities is its involvement in the current legislative session, where two House bills and one Senate bill are being debated. Instead of one big event like that of 2013, Applefield is organizing a more sustained effort that will take place over multiple days. It kicked off on May 18, with The Librarians star, Christian Kane, opening the legislative assembly with a song. Laika’s The Boxtrolls made an appearance, along with a virtual reality Wild experience and an evening reception.

Meetings between industry representatives and legislators will happen over multiple days. “This will give us sustained interest, keeping our industry in the minds of the legislators,” Applefield says. He acknowledges the challenge that legislators face in determining priorities for the limited available funding. In their talks with legislators, OMPA members will stress the positive economic impact that the media production industry makes in the state.

As the OMPA begins its search for a permanent Executive Director, Applefield will continue promoting the industry in the region at all levels of government and representing the diverse membership of the OMPA. “Oregon has lots of talent for onscreen roles and talent that’s needed behind the scenes. We’re continuing to build a healthy industry.”

Legislative Updates

The second season of 'Z Nation' was approved for incentive funding through Washington Filmworks. OLIVER IRWIN

The second season of ‘Z Nation’ was approved for incentive funding through Washington Filmworks. OLIVER IRWIN

What’s the latest from Salem and Olympia?

WASHINGTON UPDATE

In Washington State, Senate Bill 6027 (SB 6027) aims to increase the funding for the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program. The bill was introduced in the Washington State Senate on February 17, and was subsequently referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, where it remains.

On April 29, it was reported that Washington State is in for at least one 30-day special legislative session, where the House and Senate leadership will negotiate the final budget. According to Washington Filmworks, which oversees the state’s film production incentive program, SB 6027 will “likely remain in the Senate Ways and Means Committee until the major components of the budget have been negotiated (education funding, revenue, etc).”

With a cap of $3.5 million per year, Washington currently has the fifth smallest incentive program in the country. SB 6027 would double the size of the production incentive program over the next two years to $7 million and increase the fund incrementally each year until it reaches $10 million in 2019. The sunset date for the program would also be extended to 2022.

In 2015, the $3.5-million cap was met by mid-April. Washington Filmworks announced that it had approved funding for season two of Z Nation, which began filming this spring, and a feature from director Todd Rohal (The Catechism Cataclysm) called Sweet Cheeks, which will begin filming in June. Filmworks also awarded a portion of the funding to two Innovation Lab recipients, and is holding another portion in reserve to accommodate commercials for the Commercialize Seattle program.

“These commitments exhaust the 2015 fund, less than two months after opening the application window,” said Washington Filmworks Board Chair Don Jensen. “As the Board considered the applications, there were an additional four projects that were interested in filming in Washington State over the summer months. These projects would have generated an estimated $66 million of economic impact in our state, and it is maddening that we had to tell them not to apply.”

Currently, Washington Filmworks is working on getting the adaptation of the best-selling book Boys in the Boat to film in the state. Filmworks’ executive director Amy Lillard, along with several film-friendly senators, recently joined author Daniel James Brown for a book signing event in Olympia. Brown not only discussed his book—which tells the story of the University of Washington crew team and their path to gold—but also his thoughts on the importance of filming the upcoming motion picture at the University of Washington and in Seattle.

Filmworks is quick to point out that without the passage of SB 6027, Washington will “miss the boat” and the film, which is being produced by The Weinstein Company, will likely film in Vancouver, BC, instead.

A planned lobbying meeting at the capitol on May 27 was postponed, but Filmworks urges all members of the film production community to continue to reach out to key legislators—including Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, Rep. Pat Sullivan, Rep. Eric Pettigrew, and Rep. Larry Springer—in this final push before the budget is set.

For more information, visit www.washingtonfilmworks.org or www.keepfilminwa.com.

OREGON UPDATE
By Mary Erickson Oregon Editor

The Oregon State Legislature is currently reviewing three bills to increase economic support of the film and media industry in the state.

Senate Bill 872 proposes raising the amount of maximum total tax credits from $10 million to $14 million. It increases the limit on reimbursements for local film and media production companies, and limits the reimbursement amount for non-local filmmakers.

A public hearing was held on April 1, with speakers coming from various corners of the state to submit statements in support of SB 872. Testimonies came from Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, the Oregon Film Office, Southern Oregon Film and Media, the City of Eugene, Klamath County Chamber of Commerce, as well as representatives from various production and post-production houses in the state.

The Senate Committee on Business and Transportation recommended the bill for approval on April 20, with committee members voting 4-1 in favor of the bill (Sen. Fred Girod voted against the bill). The bill is currently being reviewed by the Senate Joint Committee on Tax Credit.

House Bill 2072 requests an increase to the program tax credit cap, from $10 million to $20 million. It also proposes a reappropriation of the funds, shifting reserve funds for i-OPIF from 5 to 7.5 percent and creating a reserve of funds for projects outside the Portland Metro area. The bill includes a provision to establish a task force on Oregon film and media production, as well as a few other minor policy changes and clarifications. The bill would take effect in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

The main thrust of House Bill 2898 extends the sunset date of the tax incentive program from January 2018 to January 2024. As Nathaniel Applefield, Interim Executive Director of OMPA, notes, “As we get closer to 2018, TV production companies are getting worried. They can film Season 1 here, but what about Seasons 2 and 3?” The extended sunset will reassure productions that they can be rooted in Oregon for a longer duration. This bill also increases the amount of reimbursement allowed to a local filmmaker or production company from $1 million to $2 million. The bill would take effect in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

A public hearing for the two House bills was held on April 27, with numerous stakeholders submitting statements in support of the bills. These included Tim Williams of the Oregon Film Office, Lana Veenker of Cast Iron Studios, Gretchen Miller of HIVE-FX, Jose Behar of Electric Entertainment, and others.

Both House Bills 2072 and 2898 are currently awaiting action in the House Committee on Revenue.

For more information, visit www.oregonfilm.org.

 

Extras Only: An Interview with Lance Mitchell of Flannel Background

Flannel Background is a talent agency representing a deep roster of extras and background actors for Northwest-based productions.

The agency was formed last year when Triple L Talent, owned by Anne Lillian Mitchell, was restructured and separated into two entities: Mitchell Artist Management (MAM), which focuses on principal actors, and Flannel Background, which focuses on extras.

Lance Mitchell

Lance Mitchell

“An extras agency focuses on extras’ needs, assuring that production does not have to shoulder that responsibility,” explains Lance Mitchell, owner of Flannel Background, when asked about the importance of an extras-only agency. “Not only do we supply the ‘everyday’ real person, we prepare them to enter the work environment on set.”

He continues, “Whereas principal actors come on set with knowledge, training and procedure, we educate those who are breaking into the business or looking for their 15 minutes of fame. My first experience on set, I had no idea what to expect. An agent is there to walk you through the process, from what to expect to support on set to assuring those payments come in a timely manner. I’m just an ordinary guy who stepped on set one day. I ‘get’ what information an extra needs to be successful. We assist with not only bookings, but familiarizing our talent with film terminology, set etiquette, and the tools they need to be successful.”

Flannel Background operates on both sides of Washington state, building a roster in the Seattle and Spokane areas in order to “best service our clients’ needs,” says Mitchell. “We assure a reliable, confident, and prepared extra. We are a resource for those asking ‘Where to start?’ or ‘What’s it like to be on set?’”

The company recently provided extras to both seasons of the Spokane-based Syfy series Z Nation, ensuring that each scene teemed with terrifying zombies. Other recent projects include industrial and commercial bookings for WSU, AT&T, Rubbermaid, Best Buy and several others. “We have one extra who’s become our go-to gal for any industrials that include eyedrops,” says Mitchell.

And Flannel Background is always looking to add to its roster, aiming to have the widest range of talent possible.

“When it comes to extras, we need everything and anything,” he says. “You never know what production might ask for. We cover a variety of skills, body types, age ranges, and ethnicities. We cast a wide net in what we look for to anticipate productions’ needs.”

Since becoming the owner of Flannel Background, Mitchell has relished all of the experiences that come with building a new agency. What has he enjoyed most?

“The hunt!” he says. “There is a thrill in the tight timelines and finding the impossible. The enthusiasm when we call to book talent is contagious. There is no better feeling than fulfilling a dream.” MI

If you are looking for background actors, visit www.flannelbackground.com. Interested in becoming an extra? Visit the website and complete the instructions under the “JOIN” tab.

Eastern Oregon Film Festival Celebrates Sixth Annual Event

'Planetary' played opening night at the Eastern Oregon Film Festival. COURTESY OF PLANETARY COLLECTIVE

‘Planetary’ played opening night at the Eastern Oregon Film Festival. COURTESY OF PLANETARY COLLECTIVE

By Christopher Jennings Director, Eastern Oregon Film Festival

The sixth annual Eastern Oregon Film Festival brought Eastern Oregon to life May 7-9, 2015. The opening night of the festival, set in La Grande, featured Guy Reid’s stunning feature documentary, Planetary. It was accompanied by Danny Madden’s All Your Favorite Shows!, and a live Q&A with the filmmakers after the films. Additional selections included Scott Cummings’ hypnotic Buffalo Juggalos, Sara Dosa’s The Last Season, a meditative look at Oregon mushroom hunters, and Alison Bagnall’s closing-night comedy Funny Bunny.

From all directions, this year’s musical guests created the soundscape to the sixth annual event. On Thursday, May 7, the Art Center at the Old Library hosted a local kick-off show with Ham n Cheese and Pendleton’s JDK&EOPB. The following night, Benchwarmer’s parking lot saw Boise’s Hillfolk Noir and Old Death Whisper. Wrapping up the festival’s musical selections were Portland’s Yeah Great Fine and Astoria’s pop rock group Holiday Friends. Bijoux and Like a Villain also made an appearance as special guest solo performers.

Filmmaker Nandan Rao at EOFF 2014. CODY GITTINGS

Filmmaker Nandan Rao at EOFF 2014. CODY GITTINGS

Special screening events included a Secret Screening with Zach Weintraub and an Online Showcase hosted at FilmmakerMagazine.com, and a local showcase of works by Eastern Oregon University students and Eastern Oregon media makers.

Full program details and wrap-up are available at the Festival’s website, www.eofilmfest.com.

Ashland, Oregon: #1 Town to Live and Work as a Filmmaker

Banner over Main Street celebrates Ashland's achievement. GARY KOUT

Banner over Main Street celebrates Ashland’s achievement. GARY KOUT

By Leah Gibson Southern Oregon Film and Media (SOFaM)

Envision a special place that embraces green forests, snowcapped mountains, blue lakes and hastening rivers. This is an enchanted land where citizens enjoy the good life in a small quaint town. Located just 15 miles north of the California border in the Rogue Valley, right where the Siskiyou and Cascade Mountains intersect, is one such town: Ashland, Oregon. This dynamic hamlet of 20,000 souls boasts a vibrant and artsy community where natural spring water literally bubbles to the surface through fountains in the welcoming downtown hub the locals refer to simply as “The Plaza.”

Oz Rodriguez (director) and David Robert Jones (DP) on the set of 'Brother in Laws.' TYLER MADDOX

Oz Rodriguez (director) and David Robert Jones (DP) on the set of ‘Brother in Laws.’ TYLER MADDOX

Ashland is known for many things: world-class theater at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a top-notch liberal arts education at Southern Oregon University, and the beauty and solitude of Lithia Park, designed by John McLaren of Golden Gate Park fame. What Ashland hasn’t been known for is filmmaking. But that is starting to change.

After quietly producing quality productions of all types and sizes for years, Ashland was recognized in 2014 by MovieMaker magazine by being named the #2 town to live and work as a filmmaker in the nation. Then it was kicked up one more notch to #1 in January of 2015. To be sure, this esteemed position is partly due to its extraordinary locale, cultured atmosphere and high quality of life. These aspects of Ashland land the town atop many lists. The recognition for Ashland’s filmmaking is specifically thanks to the numerous letters of support from local businesses and community leaders. This town’s support runs deep, as evidenced by its film-focused economic development grant two years running.

Crane shot of the Ashland Springs Hotel. BEN LIPSEY

Crane shot of the Ashland Springs Hotel. BEN LIPSEY

Wondering if you’ve seen Ashland on the big screen? In 2014, it was hard to miss. The picturesque town was featured as one of the stops along the Pacific Crest Trail in the acclaimed Reese Witherspoon film, Wild. The town was prominently featured in Night Moves, the indie eco-terrorism thriller starring Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning. And Ashland was where Shirley Knight took her first steps towards the Oregon coast in Redwood Highway.

It’s important to note that it’s a rare production that only takes place in Ashland and relies solely on Ashland resources. In truth, another thing Ashland has going for it is the robust and varied region of which it is a part. The Southern Oregon coast and the high desert to the east, along with many small towns, have all hosted productions. These are where many of the region’s crews and cast call home. Located 13 miles north of Ashland, Medford is the area’s biggest town and the location for many of its productions. Medford also supports the industry with economic development money. When taken as a whole, the MovieMaker designation of Ashland as #1 really applies to all of Southern Oregon.

On the set of 'Redwood Highway.' GARY KOUT

On the set of ‘Redwood Highway.’ GARY KOUT

Making and watching movies overlap at the region’s many film festivals, including the Siskiyou FilmFest (focused on environmentally themed films), the Klamath Independent Film Festival (focused on locally shot films and films by local filmmakers), the Killer Valley Horror Film Festival, and the Southern Oregon University Student Film Festival. Of course, the Ashland Independent Film Festival is a highly regarded and nationally known festival that MovieMaker magazine also recognized as a festival “worth the entry fee.”

Enthusiastic crowds pack the Varsity Theatre during AIFF. AL CASE, ASHLAND DAILY PHOTO (courtesy AIFF)

Enthusiastic crowds pack the Varsity Theatre during AIFF. AL CASE, ASHLAND DAILY PHOTO (courtesy AIFF)

The festival, known as AIFF, attracts top-quality long and short narrative and documentary films from all over the world. Recent keynote participants have included Morgan Spurlock, Julie Taymor, Barbara Kopple and Ty Burrell (who attended college in Ashland). In a nod to the robust local film and media industry, AIFF has a Locals program and a student film competition that lets local filmmakers, both budding and veteran, experience the excitement and energy of having audiences watch and comment on their films. These individuals also get the invaluable opportunity to connect to the wider community of award-winning filmmakers.

Writer/director Gary Lundgren watches the shot on the set of 'Black Road.' ANNE LUNDGREN

Writer/director Gary Lundgren watches the shot on the set of ‘Black Road.’ ANNE LUNDGREN

Shepherding and supporting the local industry is Southern Oregon Film and Media (SOFaM). With its office in Ashland, SOFaM is a membership-based non-profit that promotes the region to both local and out-of-area producers and works to connect productions with local film professionals, actors, equipment and resources via its online directory. Open to industry participants, businesses, students and general supporters, SOFaM membership offers access to digital newsletters, networking opportunities, job postings, free and discounted admission to special SOFaM events, and reciprocal benefits with sister organizations across Oregon. With its large database and deep reach across the entire region, SOFaM is the starting point for any film or media need. SOFaM has been instrumental in bringing high-profile projects to the area in its eight-year history, such as a recent Budweiser commercial filmed in Jacksonville and the upcoming feature comedy Brother In Laws from producer Lorne Michaels, which shot in and near Klamath Falls.

Commercial shoot for Grange Co-Op. TYLER MADDOX

Commercial shoot for Grange Co-Op. TYLER MADDOX

But it’s not just these and the previously mentioned productions that define the Southern Oregon film and media industry and keep its members busy. The area sees a great number of local, regional and national commercials and corporate videos, television projects, short films, music videos and many independent features, all taking advantage of what earned Ashland and Southern Oregon the top spot on the list of places to live and work as a moviemaker.

Leah Gibson is a freelance special effects makeup artist and the Executive Assistant to Southern Oregon Film and Media. For information on filming in Southern Oregon, visit www.filmsouthernoregon.org.

Water Buffalo’s Owner Reflects On Nearly Two Decades in Business

Water Buffalo's water trucks on the set of 'Murder in Law.'

Water Buffalo’s water trucks on the set of ‘Murder in Law.’

By Phyllis Bown Guest Columnist

I started Water Buffalo in 1996 with one cute little 1,500-gallon water truck. It was my goal to be the most diverse water truck company in the area and provide our customers with great service with fully equipped trucks.

This year will mark 19 years in business. We have grown to six water trucks and two water trailers. We have been involved with the film industry for over 10 years. We have done many car commercials and still shoots, as the Northwest has so many beautiful locations. We’ve helped make rain and get the wet look on productions like The Road, Battle in Seattle, Waste Management, and most recently a Washington State Lottery commercial and Carhartt’s farm series.

'Murder in Law' filmed several scenes at Water Buffalo's shop in Bonney Lake.

‘Murder in Law’ filmed several scenes at Water Buffalo’s shop in Bonney Lake.

I love working with the film industry, as the work that you do lives on in print. The people that we get to work with are always great and there are so many good memories and good food.

By far my best experience was working with Screaming Flea Productions on their pilot for Murder In Law. They were casing the Bonney Lake plateau area, where we are located, to find a spot to shoot their “desert” scenes. They needed a rocky area without too many trees, as the segment was set in the California desert and about a family that owned a water trucking company.

Bown's 1976 Dodge Dart gets a cameo in the production.

Bown’s 1976 Dodge Dart gets a cameo in the production.

They stopped by my shop to look over the water trucks, which this time were needed not to make rain but to be part of the scenes. I have a large area of gravel parking around the shop and with nothing working out for them at other hopeful shooting locations, they asked if they could film at my place. I couldn’t turn them down; what a unique opportunity. Not only did my truck get a starring role, but my truck driver got in on the action, my kids and I were extras in the jail and party scenes, and my shop, office and living room were also used. My 1976 Dodge Dart also got to be a getaway car for the bad guy. I always joked that I wanted to be “craft services” in a movie and I also got that wish, helping make iced tea and opening up my kitchen and dining area for the cast and crew. It felt like a holiday with lots of people coming in and out and having a great time filming. I’m not sure anything can top that.

Bown and her daughter get in on the action.

Bown and her daughter get in on the action.

Water Buffalo has also helped out on many Mud Obstacle Runs here in the Northwest, such as Dirty Dash, Warrior Dash and Tuff Mudder, and provides potable water service for Hempfest, Festival of The River and many other events. We’ve even sprayed down the hot crowds at a Kenny Chesney Pre-Concert Party.

Whatever you can think of doing with bulk water, we can help.

For more information, visit www.waterbuffaloinc.com.

50 Hour Slam: Showcasing Spokane Filmmakers

By Peyton Scheller Communications Manager, Visit Spokane

The secret criteria: a food dish, a Spokane business and a “Slam Video.” The task: 50 hours to create a three- to six-minute film. The result: an epic film fest showcasing the Spokane region’s creative talent.

Created by organizers from Vexing Media, Purple Crayon Pictures, Community Minded Television, The Magic Lantern Theater, Robert Foote and Saranac Public House, 50 Hour Slam was designed to encourage and develop filmmakers throughout the region. We sat down with one of the co-organizers, Juan Mas, to find out a little bit more about the event:

Juan Mas

Juan Mas

For those not aware of the event, how would you describe it to them?
Juan Mas: It’s a timed film event, where competitors have just 50 hours to complete a three- to six-minute movie. Each year, there’s a secret criteria that involves a theme and a location element. This year, the theme was culinary and the location element incorporated several historic Spokane businesses.
There’s also an educational component to the event. Every entry must include all of the proper paperwork, releases, etc. that would normally go along with the process of shooting a real film. Teams have the opportunity to work with us and learn how to take the correct steps throughout the filmmaking process.

What inspired you to start the 50 Hour Slam?
JM: We wanted to create an event that was a little different and a little more edgy… something with more freedom compared to the other film festivals which were generically more family friendly.

How many people compete?
JM: On average, we have about 32 to 35 teams compete, with about 5 to 10 people on each team. This year we have 37 teams with about 300 total participants.

With so many teams, how does the judging process work?
JM: First, the organizers watch every film to make sure it meets all of the criteria before passing it on to the judges. The judges then review all of the films and narrow it down to their top 15. The organizers choose a favorite film that wasn’t in the judges’ top 15 and that’s included as the sixteenth film. All 16 films were shown at the audience screening on May 2, with the audience choosing the final winner.50 hour slam logo
There’s also a viral vote element. For any film that’s submitted after the due date, or is maybe missing a part of the criteria, it’s included in the viral vote along with the rest of the films.
It’s always fun to see how everything shakes out, as films that are the favorites at the screening may not necessarily be the favorites online.

Why did you decide to include a food dish as this year’s theme?
JM: We wanted to honor food as an art form, especially considering Spokane has such an awesome culinary scene. We narrowed down some of our favorite chefs and asked them to participate.

What element is new about this year’s Slam compared to previous years?
JM: Since this is the Slam’s fifth year, we wanted to include one other part of the criteria that gave credit to the past five years’ Slams. Each of the teams was given a “Slam Video” including clips from entries over the past five years, which the teams were then required to incorporate into some aspect of their film.

What is your favorite part of the process?
JM: Coming up with the criteria is always a blast. For the co-organizers, it gives us a chance to think of fresh, really outside-the-box ideas. We don’t want the teams to get too comfortable. The audience screening is also a lot of fun.

How have you seen the event grow over the past few years, and what do you foresee for its future?
JM: Each year the event continues to grow, with more teams and more creative products. For the future, we plan to grow the event, and hopefully include some more educational workshops. Down the road, we hope this could one day become a multi-city event. MI

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