Seattle’s Newest “Film School”

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By Molly Michal, Northwest Film Forum

For twenty years, Northwest Film Forum has supported working filmmakers in the Pacific Northwest region. As Seattle’s most comprehensive film arts center – offering year-round film screenings, filmmaking classes and direct grants and services for local filmmakers – the Film Forum champions opportunities for filmmakers to view, learn and make, discovering their own voice along the way.

In 2015, Northwest Film Forum is embarking on an exciting new venture to train the next generation of independent filmmakers. The new One-Year Film Comprehensive, launching in September, is a unique alternative to traditional “film school” for aspiring film and media makers.

The program’s practical, project-oriented curriculum was developed to provide students with the thorough fundamentals for filmmaking, including writing, cinematography, audio production, editing and producing—but a real highlight of the program is built-in opportunities outside the classroom that range from professional placements to exhibition of student work.IMG_0669

“One of the things I’m most excited about in this new program is the opportunity students have to embed themselves in the resources and culture of Northwest Film Forum,” says Education Manager Craig Downing.

“What makes our training unique is that we’re offering not just a progressive core curriculum in the technical, business and creative aspects of filmmaking. We’re also opening our doors for students to be ‘in residence,’ and work collaboratively with our staff on professional projects, throughout their year with us. We will be proud to include accepted students as part of our team, allowing them access to everything we do here at the Film Forum.”

Professional opportunities for enrolled students will align with the comprehensive nature of the Film Forum’s mission and facilities. While interning at the Film Forum, students might learn about film fundraising and development, work on a professional shoot in collaboration with their instructors, and/or showcase a final film at the Local Sightings Film Festival in 2016 (to list just a few possibilities).IMG_0765

As a non-profit organization with a mission to serve and develop emerging filmmakers, Northwest Film Forum is committed to keeping the One-Year Film Comprehensive financially accessible. Tuition costs are just $12,500 for the year, which includes all equipment fees (students in the one-year program may also attend any Film Forum a la carte workshop during the year for free).

May 15 is the application deadline for the inaugural One-Year Film Comprehensive, and admission is competitive (limited to 12 students).

Northwest Film Forum will be holding an Open House for prospective students to learn more and tour classroom facilities on April 26 and May 11—details online here.

Read a thorough overview of the One-Year Film Comprehensive on Northwest Film Forum’s website here.

The SARA Program: Your Destination for a Sound Education

Orbit Audio in Seattle serves as the program's headquarters.

Orbit Audio in Seattle serves as the program’s headquarters.

The Seattle Academy of Recording Arts (SARA), a hands-on educational program founded by audio engineer Joe Reineke, will start its inaugural session this July.

Reineke—a 30-year veteran of the audio industry, including 15 years as a studio owner—has created a Washington State-certified school offering students the chance to learn audio engineering, production, analog and digital recording, mixing, mastering, and even business and entrepreneurial skills.

Joe Reineke

Joe Reineke, founder of the SARA Program.

“I started this program because I knew I could do this better than what was out there, and I was fed up with ‘graduates’ coming to intern at my studio completely under-educated from what I assumed were ‘reputable audio engineering programs,’” said Reineke, who’s also an Avid Certified Instructor.

“My goal is simple: I want to transform a calling into a creative career and give my graduates the training needed to succeed in our industry.”

SARA is a six-month intensive program with the curriculum structured in such a way that students devote one eight-hour day each week to their instruction.

“We know that people lead full-time lives, so we’ve designed our program to be one full day per week, Tuesdays through Saturdays, so people who work traditional full-time jobs can participate in the SARA program,” said Reineke.SARA Audio Engineering School Seattle WA Logo

He added, “We’ve also dedicated Fridays as an all-women’s day because the landscape is changing out there and this is no longer an ‘all-dudes club.’ Almost 70 percent of the people interested in the SARA program are women. It makes a lot of sense: half of the artists are women, so why can’t half of the engineers and producers be women, as well?”

The program is based out of Reineke’s Pioneer Square studio, Orbit Audio, one of Seattle’s premier recording and mixing studios. In addition to working with recording artists like Macklemore and Arcade Fire, Orbit’s client base also includes corporations such as Microsoft, Pfizer, NBC, NPR and many others.

With a maximum class size of eight (plus two instructors), students really get a hands-on feel for the audio industry. They’ll not only have access to the studio’s world-class equipment, but also to the extensive experience and knowledge of Orbit Audio’s producers and engineers.

“Folks will get a quality education here. I want the SARA certification to be as meaningful to employers as a Harvard degree,” said Reineke.

“If we (Washington State) want to continue to be leaders, we need to train the leaders of tomorrow and give them the right skill set and foundation to excel.”

SARA’s inaugural session begins July 7 and all ages (18+) are welcome. For more information, visit www.seattlerecordingacademy.com.

Three Oregon TV Series Renewed

By Susan Haley Associate Editor

Oregon has great news to share in its TV production schedule! According to recent reports, the networks have renewed all three of the TV shows that have made the state home in recent years.

TNT has announced its decision to renew The Librarians for a second season. The Librarians premiered in December as the most-watched new cable series of 2014 and is produced by Dean Devlin’s Electric Entertainment, which also brought the series Leverage to Oregon for several successful seasons.

Dean Devlin featured with Noah Wyle on the set of The Librarians. SCOTT PATRICK GREEN

Dean Devlin featured with Noah Wyle on the set of The Librarians. SCOTT PATRICK GREEN

Based on the popular movie franchise, The Librarians television series centers on an ancient organization hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library dedicated to protecting the unknowing world from a secret, magical reality. The series stars Noah Wyle as Flynn Carsen, the Librarian, with Rebecca Romijn as his guardian, and Christian Kane, Lindy Booth and John Kim as the newest generation of Librarians. John Larroquette returns as caretaker Jenkins.

A scene from Portlandia, starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen. AUGUSTA QUIRK/IFC

A scene from Portlandia, starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen. AUGUSTA QUIRK/IFC

IFC also announced that the series Portlandia will be back for two additional seasons. Portlandia is produced by Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video and is currently airing on IFC in its fifth season. The show stars Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen and includes guest roles that bring some of the best comedy casting to the Pacific Northwest. Shot in Portland, the show includes some of the odder aspects of the NW lifestyle that has obviously hit a popular chord.

“We are so excited to get to do more Portlandia with IFC,” said Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein in a joint statement. “Getting to work with Jon (Krisel, the series’ co-creator and director) and our talented writers and crew, it really is our favorite thing in the world. Also, we get to spend more time in Portland!”

The renewal is for 10 half-hour episodes in both seasons six and seven. Season five can be seen on IFC at 10pm on Thursdays.

(l-r) Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin, David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, and Schakal star in Grimm,  which is being filmed in Oregon. SCOTT GREEN/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK

(l-r) Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin, David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, and Schakal star in Grimm,
which is being filmed in Oregon. SCOTT GREEN/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK

In the first week of February, NBC announced that Grimm is being picked up for season five.  The show, shot on stages and on location in Portland and the metro area, has been doing well in its Friday night timeslot, with season four garnering over 7.2 million viewers all-told.

Grimm was one of five dramas NBC renewed for the 2015-16 season. The show stars David Giuntoli, Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Reggie Lee, Sasha Roiz, Bree Turner and Claire Coffee. Executive producers include Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner, David Greenwalt, Jim Kouf and Norberto Barba.

These shows represent hundreds of jobs for Oregonians—both crew and talent who work hard to help make these shows a success, not to mention the continued work for vendors and support industries that service Oregon’s film and television industry. Oregon is thrilled to have all of these shows back!

Gap Financing: Inside the Torrid World of Film Finance

By Oliver W. Tuthill Jr. Guest Columnist

Reprinted courtesy of MovieMaker Magazine

Oliver TuthillSince Thomas Edison produced the first film of heavyweight boxing champion James J. Corbett engaging in a boxing match back in 1897, filmmakers and film producers have struggled with finding the resources to get their vision on the screen. Thousands of creatives see their film visions in their minds, but how many actually have the ability to master the creative, technical and financial process in order to see a film successfully completed? This article will focus on the financial process with gap financing being the primary concentration, but first, let’s start at the beginning.

When a film producer acquires a property, or the rights to a screenplay, the next step is attaching talent, be it actors, producers or a name director. This involves entering into discussions with international sales agents to ascertain if the talent she or he can attach will help sell the film in foreign territories. Then the producer goes after presales contracts.

Scott Freije handles sales and acquisitions at Artist View Entertainment, an international sales representation company located in Los Angeles, and he contends that gap financing plays a small but important role in getting a film made.

“We really see them in a way as finishing funds because sometimes you need that extra money to get your film finished.” Freije also recommends that a producer should, “Work within the parameters of a known genre that there is a demand for.”

David Sheldon, the CEO of Film Financial Services, spends his time co-financing films for Hollywood Studios and independent producers. Films’ budgets typically range from $10 to $50 million. His company pulls together elements of financing in a tailor-made structure for each film and he maintains that gap financing is an important component in the financial process. He calls the process structured finance.

“It contains various components of finance for a transaction, and each one of the components has a different risk/reward profile,” Sheldon said. He went on to list the various elements and explained each one.

1. Gap Finance – The bank takes very little risk, but its reward is limited to its interest and fees.
2. Presales Guarantees – The bank takes very little risk and is limited to its interest and fees.
3. Equity – This would consist of real cash equity that an investor has put in.
4. Service deferrals – Deferred salaries for talent and deferred fees for costs.
5. Subsidies or Tax Credits – This will be offered as a rebate when production is completed or as a partial write off on taxes. It can vary from state to state and country to country.
6. Product placement or cross-promotional contributions – Companies will pay the producer to place their product or service logo in their film.

“Gap finance is referred to by bankers as ‘Senior Debt’ because it is lending against the rights of unsold international territories, and the amount of the banker’s loan is dependent upon the value of those unsold rights,” Sheldon said. “The international sales company does estimates by country and the gap lenders will typically lend only for major international territories, not the small ones.” He is referring to large territories like Germany, France and Japan. A small territory would be considered a country like Vietnam or Laos.

Sheldon went on, “The banks insist that their loan is covered by 150% and there is no profit participation. It is a straight loan and the gap loan is the last financial component that comes into play.”

According to Jeff Colvin, the Senior Vice President and Group Manager at Comerica in Los Angeles, his bank is in business to provide gap financing to film producers. He is only looking for films that are produced for $10 million or above, and up to 20% of the budget can go towards gap financing. Colvin said it is not cost–effective for the producer of a low– budget film to utilize gap financing.

“We will do a loan against the presale contracts, the tax credits, rebates and foreign incentives. We do our own analysis to make sure our risks are kept to a minimum, but gap financing is not risk free,” Colvin said. “We are loaning against the unsold territories, and if the film turns out poorly then buyers will not want to license the rights from the producer. Sometimes even when the producer has a presales guarantee the buyer will default, and we will have to enter into arbitration. We will then resell those rights in the same territories but to different companies.”

Brenda Flewellyn is the President of FILMBANKERS International and is considered one of the premier finance professionals in the entertainment industry.

“Gap financing is lending against unsold film rights that have established values usually set by a sales agent and agreed upon by the financier,” she said. “The bank is taking a big risk because you do not know if the distributor will even like it once the film is ready for exhibition, and that is why gap is so risky.” She goes on to explain that a close relative of gap financing is bridge financing.

“It is when a film producer needs to start filming but does not have all the money to hire the talent and crew while waiting for his loans to close and fund. The producer will go to a finance company to ‘bridge’ the loan until the producer’s production loan comes through. The production loan can take a variety of forms. It could have a combination of presales, gap lending, equity, tax credits, and deferrals.”

Flewellyn, with her partner Harold Lewis, has created a new company to help aspiring producers have a shot at finding production financing for their dream film. It is a new website called Pitch2Me.com and she is currently enrolling bankers, distributors and investors so it will be easier for filmmakers to get their film produced. For a nominal fee the producer can upload the essential elements of their project. Financial professionals and distributors can then zero in on the type of project the distributor or investor is interested in financing.

Philippe Diaz, the CEO of the prestigious social rights film distributor, Cinema Libre Studio, feels that you must meet certain basic requirements before you can even approach a bank about gap financing.

“Your film has to be more than $2 million and it must have name actors attached, actors that will sell overseas,” Diaz said. “You must have presales that can be verified as legitimate buyers and have 70 to 80% of your budget covered before asking for gap financing. You also must have a completion bond, which means a bond company will make sure the film will be completed and be ready for a distributor if for some reason the producer or director cannot finish the film on schedule.”

Colvin recommends you find a good international sales agent before approaching a bank about gap financing. “The earlier you have a foreign sales agent attached to your film the better,” Colvin said. “The foreign sales agent will help the producer find out what the best cast would be and help secure presales guarantees. The bank wants a good sales agent.” Colvin also offers advice on what to do if the bank is unsure about the distributor offering the presales guarantee.

“They can put up a letter of credit from their bank which is their bank’s guarantee that our bank would get paid. It would be acceptable then, because we would be taking a bank risk. Loan pricing against letters of credit would be cheaper because the risk we would be taking would not be on foreign distributors but on another big bank.”

Diaz explains how important it is to the bank, to know how foreign distributors will feel about the film and the cast. “They will call foreign buyers,” Diaz said. “They will ask them how much will they pay for this particular film with this particular cast before they make a decision on doing business with a particular producer.”

“The good days of film finance are behind us now,” Diaz continued. “With the great recession and the explosion of new product for growing networks, a lot of films were not commercially successful. In the last ten years we saw the death of the presales market. It is now dead for everything but the top movies. The presales market is dead for small films. Only the big films can obtain presales guarantees and that is because they can attach the top talent—the best known actors and directors.”

Producer Howard Burd, who just finished up shooting his new film, Criminal Activity, in Cleveland, Ohio, with John Travolta in the lead, has never used gap financing.

“I go out and I make calls on equity investors and can raise capital by monetizing the rebate that I work out with the states I film in, for shooting my film in their state. I shot my last film, Four Minute Mile, starring Kim Basinger and Richard Jenkins, in Washington State and received a 30% rebate after production. You can save a lot of money by doing that and getting loans from equity investors on the rebates.”

Sheldon opines the fact that many banks no longer make gap loans to film producers. “The 2008 recession was very devastating to the film industry. Some banks have gotten out of the business altogether, and all of them have cut back,” Sheldon said. “That is because the Feds have put requirements on the banks to retain more assets and collateral.”

When asked how much it costs to finance a gap loan, Colvin said, “First you have to check the LIBOR rate (London Interbanking Offer Rate) and see what the spread rate is. The bank will charge interest and fees on the loan. For a $10-million film you would be looking at a bench rate of about a quarter of a point, or .25%. The loan would be at the interest rate of LIBOR plus 1-2%. There would be a 2% fee and about $75,000 in legal costs. On a $10-million film you would be looking at around $775,000 in interest and fees.” This means the producer would have to get the film done for $9,225,000.

“You go to gap financing when you cannot get presale contracts or you do not want to get presale guarantees,” Diaz added. “You can make more money by licensing your film to a foreign territory after the film is completed and ready for exhibition and distribution. Also, if you are going to get your gap financing you will need a completion bond and that is going to add another 3-6% onto your budget.”

Diaz also explained about the possibilities of presales guarantees in the U.S. marketplace. “That is much harder to obtain,” he said. “You have to realize that all of North America is just one territory and bankers will not count on the U.S. market. Too much can happen, because you just never know how a completed film is going to turn out. If it is a bad film you are not going to make any money and this will have negative repercussions on your relationship with the bank.”

Sheldon concurs with Diaz. “The U.S. values are more difficult to attain,” he said. “You have to take into consideration how the film will be released, how much the P&A is, and what are the terms of the P&A recoupment and if it will leave anything for the producer. Who would the domestic distributor be? What are their arrangements for distribution in the theaters, television, PPV, VOD, and internet streaming? P&A recoups ahead of the banks and it is not assured what the given cost will be.”

Sheldon is optimistic about the future. “The whole entertainment arena has been hurt by the recession because advertising revenues have dropped a lot,” he said. “Bankers are more cautious, but business is slowly picking up again, but you need to work with big stars in action dramas if you want to be successful in this business. Gap financing is for producers who want to work with  name talent on big budget films.”

Seattle Welcomes World’s Best Emerging Filmmakers Thanks to NFFTY 2015

 

By Stefanie Malone Managing Director, NFFTY
Photos by Mark Malijan

NFFTY headshotThis April, the next generation of the world’s best filmmakers will come to Seattle to showcase their work at NFFTY 2015. NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth) is in its ninth year running and has continued to make an undeniable impression on both the lives of the young filmmakers accepted into the festival, and on the film community that joins in the electric experience of hearing the voice of this generation.

NFFTY is the world’s largest and most influential film festival for emerging directors, showcasing work by filmmakers 24 and younger from around the globe. Opening Night kicks off on April 23 at the newly remodeled Cinerama Theater, with the remainder of the festival at the SIFF Cinema Uptown from April 24-26.

With more film screenings and filmmaking panels than ever before, NFFTY 2015 is a great example of why this festival has been called the “Sundance for young filmmakers.” A few of the things that set this year’s festival apart from last year are the Closing Night screening, “Femme Finale,” and the Masterclass panel with Danish screenwriter Rasmus Heisterberg.NFFTY 2014 Photo by Mark Malijan

The Femme Finale screening on Closing Night (Sunday, April 26) will feature films from a lineup of all female filmmakers. Among them is the powerful short documentary The Provider from filmmakers Leah Galant and Maya Cueva. This film follows the work of Dr. Shannon Carr, who works to provide safe and legal abortion services to women across the U.S., while encountering various forms of opposition. How Do You Like My Hair? is another standout screening at Femme Finale, from filmmaker Emilie Blichfeldt. This introspective short is a coming-of-age story about a girl determined to accept herself as she is and to find beauty outside the norm. Femme Finale is part of an ongoing initiative, which kicked off at last year’s festival, to highlight and support female filmmakers in order to address the issue of gender equality in the film industry.NFFTY 2014 Photo by Mark Malijan

In his Masterclass panel, Danish screenwriter Rasmus Heisterberg (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, A Royal Affair) will discuss the intricate journey that starts with the conception of an idea and leads to the creation of a story. He’ll lay out how to find the right path for an idea so that characters, plots and themes can develop organically throughout the writing process, so that scenes, sequences and eventually a whole script emerge.NFFTY 3 Photo by Mark Malijan

Festival programmers anticipate this year’s festival will hit an all-time high for submissions received and films screened. Last year, the 2014 festival received a record-breaking 800 submissions from all over the world. A total of 214 films screened, representing 30 U.S. states and 15 countries. Attendees totaled more than 12,000 and films covered all topics and genres, from compelling and provocative to hilarious to uplifting.

Many NFFTY alumni have gone on to highly successful careers, including Kevin Klauber, the editor of the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom. Another ‘08 alum, Erica Sterne, is currently the director of post production at The Weinstein Company. Elena Gaby’s Paper State won Best Student Documentary at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet the future leaders of the film industry, and the chance to be able to say, “I knew them when…”!

The full festival schedule is available at www.nffty.org. Festival passes and individual tickets are now on sale.

Stefanie Malone is Executive Director of NFFTY. She is formerly an award-winning producer who has worked with a long history of creating content and programs for PBS.  She’s a fan of documentaries and the Marx Brothers.

Casting Directors

Please view digital edition of Media Inc. magazine for full contact information and list of services provided. This list can be found on page 36 of the digital edition.

If you would like to be added to the Casting Directors list please email Katie Sauro at ksauro@media-inc.com for a survey.

Cast Iron Studios; Portland, OR
503-221-3090; fax 503-221-3092
info@castironstudios.com
www.castironstudios.com

Foreground Background LLC; Seattle, WA
425-246-2725; fax 253-926-0125
foregroundbackground@gmail.com
www.foregroundbackground.com

FreeSpirit Casting LLC; Portland, OR
503-720-4458
freespiritcasting@comcast.net
www.freespiritcasting.com

Nike Imoru Casting; Spokane & Seattle, WA
509-220-2080
info@nikeimorucasting.com
www.nikeimorucasting.com
      
Kalles Levine Casting CSA; Seattle, WA
206-522-2660 (wk) / 206-383-9001 (cell)
contact@kalleslevinecasting.com
www.kalleslevinecasting.com

Amey René Casting; Seattle, WA
323-459-8584
ameyrene@gmail.com / utahgirl90@gmail.com
www.ameyrene.com
      
Jodi Rothfield Casting CSA; Seattle, WA
206-448-0927
jodirothfield@gmail.com

Oregon Film Industry Honored

By Mary Erickson Guest Editor

Andy Mingo poses with former Governor John Kitzhaber after receiving the Innovation in Education Award. KIM OANH NGUYEN

Andy Mingo poses with former Governor John Kitzhaber after receiving the Innovation in Education Award. KIM OANH NGUYEN

On a foggy Tuesday night in January, Oregonian filmmakers celebrated achievements of the past year at the Governor’s Film Awards. Held in the historic Eastside Exchange building in Portland, the awards ceremony brought together dignitaries like former Governor John Kitzhaber, actor Russell Hornsby and renowned author Cheryl Strayed, along with film representatives from across the state.

Gordon Sondland, chair of the Oregon Film board of directors, highlighted the diversity and excellence of media production in Oregon. Sondland, who has served on the board of directors for about a decade, will be ending his tenure as chair in 2015. Governor Kitzhaber presented Sondland with an Achievement in Film Service Award. Sondland recognized the team at the Oregon Film Office, as well as Kitzhaber’s support for the industry, as instrumental in ensuring the success of Oregon filmmaking.

Gordon Sondland received the Achievement in Film  Service Award. KIM OANH NGUYEN

Gordon Sondland received the Achievement in Film Service Award. KIM OANH NGUYEN

The Zigzag Ranger District in the Mt. Hood National Forest was awarded a Film Advocate Award for its assistance with the production of Wild. Cheryl Strayed, whose book is the basis for the movie, presented the award to Mary Ellen Fitzgerald, Leanne Veldhuis, Kathleen Walker and Bill Westbrook, whom she thanked “for helping my book onto the screen with beauty and integrity.”

Also receiving a Film Advocate Award was Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake superintendent Craig Ackerman accepted the award, noting that “more people than ever are coming to see this place, to see the spiritual connection,” in large part because of films like Wild being produced in the park.

Strayed also shared a letter from Senator Ron Wyden, who commended the Crater Lake staff and whose “collaboration helped showcase our state.”

Cheryl Strayed presented a Film Advocate Award to the Crater Lake National Park Superintendent Craig  Ackerman. KIM OANH NGUYEN

Cheryl Strayed presented a Film Advocate Award to the Crater Lake National Park Superintendent Craig Ackerman. KIM OANH NGUYEN

Andy Mingo was honored with an Innovation in Education award. Mingo, an art instructor at Clackamas Community College and film producer/director, has worked to make equipment and professional opportunities available to students interested in pursuing media production as a career.

The evening featured reports from different regions across the state. Jeff Johnston from the Mid-Oregon Production Arts Network (MOPAN) mentioned a number of local productions, including Tracktown, Animal House of Blues, and Portlingrad. He also highlighted several reality TV shows in production in the Willamette Valley, including Graveyard Carz and Rollin’ on TV, and pilots being filmed in the area.

Mike Jones contributed with a report about the burgeoning games industry in Oregon. Jones organized Eugene’s Indie Game Con in October 2014, expecting a handful of people to show up. Instead, the event hosted over 400 people and showcased 18 games made in Oregon. He anticipates organizing the second Indie Game Con for 2015.

Mike Jones organized a very successful Indie Game Con last October in Eugene. MARY ERICKSON

Mike Jones organized a very successful Indie Game Con last October in Eugene. MARY ERICKSON

Southern Oregon Film and Media (SOFaM) board president Ray Robison spoke about the region’s active film industry, from the production of Wild to the Ashland Independent Film Festival, in its 14th year in 2015, to the monthly “Camera and Cocktails” social events for local filmmakers.

Christopher Jennings, director of the Eastern Oregon Film Festival in La Grande, championed this region of the state and its ability to accommodate productions. He cited two productions, Mother’s Milk and A Morning Light, as examples of work happening along the Columbia Gorge. There are also plans afoot to renovate the historic Liberty Theater in La Grande, which would provide the town with a 400-seat theater.

The final regional report was delivered by Juli Hamdan, board member of BendFilm. Hamdan described the success of the Bend Film Festival, noting that BendFilm director Todd Looby has added energy to the festival since he took the helm last year.

Tim Williams, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Film & Television, heralded the awards evening on January 6 as “a great success.”

“We were very happy, not only with the overall attendance, which was from across the state,” he noted, “but also in being able to recognize so many of the people who have helped our industry in ways that often aren’t properly acknowledged—like the rangers at Crater Lake and Zigzag, as well as educators like Andy Mingo and longtime servants to Oregon’s media industry, like Gordon Sondland.”

SAG-AFTRA Awards Talent

By Brad Anderson Executive Director,  SAG-AFTRA Seattle Local

Recently, the SAG-AFTRA Seattle Local celebrated with all of SAG-AFTRA the talent of union members by hosting a viewing party for the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. Nearly 60 people attended the event held at St. John’s Bar & Eatery on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Actors from around the region mingled with colleagues, as well as others in the entertainment industry, including producers and broadcasters. Celebrants participated in raffles and enjoyed hosted hors d’oeuvres, as well as the pageantry of the ceremonies being displayed on the big screen at the venue.

Local talent has been prominently on display recently, often represented by talent agents that have signed franchise agreements with SAG-AFTRA. The opportunities for local talent represented by Z Nation and the recent TV pilot filmed by Amazon called The Man in the High Castle, as well as the continuing Oregon productions of Grimm and The Librarians, have drawn the incredibly talented SAG-AFTRA actors the region has to offer.  In addition, “Commercialize Seattle” (www.commercializeseattle.com), jointly promoted by the City of Seattle and Washington Filmworks, has successfully expanded the range of productions for actors in the commercial arena. As successful as these efforts have been, more work needs to be done to fully actualize the marketplace for talent in the area.

One effort that the SAG-AFTRA Seattle Local is fully behind is a new push to increase Washington’s film incentive. The incentive program in Washington provides for an aggregate total of $3.5 million for approved projects. Because the existing incentive is so low relative to many other incentive programs around the country, Washington is not as competitive as it could be. In fact, last year alone Washington had to turn away a projected $55 million in economic benefits because the incentive fund had already been exhausted. So, the SAG-AFTRA Seattle Local has joined forces with other labor unions and with Washington Filmworks to go to Olympia this legislative session and ask the legislature to increase the size of the incentive fund.  And everyone can help: Go to www.washingtonfilmworks.org and register the district that you live in so that Filmworks can keep you informed about what’s going on and how you can help.

SAG-AFTRA wants to increase the availability of jobs for the talented professional performers it represents. Of course, in addition to “glamour” work discussed so far, there are many other projects that use SAG-AFTRA talent—from projects for local creative agencies to projects for corporate education for companies like Amazon, Boeing and Microsoft, and, of course, radio commercials. In all of these areas, local producers can recognize the wealth of talent in this locale and the strength of the professional performers of the SAG-AFTRA Seattle Local.

Visit www.sagaftra.org/seattle for more information.

Preview: Ashland Independent Film Festival

By Susan Haley Associate EditorAIFF2

The 14th annual Ashland Independent Film Festival (AIFF) will take place April 9 – 13 at the Varsity Theatre, the Historic Ashland Armory, Ashland Street Cinema, and the Ashland Springs Hotel. Full festival programming can be found at www.ashlandfilm.org.

Cathy Dombi, interim executive director, has been guiding this year’s festival into what we expect will be another awesome experience. Described as “like Sundance only warmer,” AIFF is the largest independent film festival in Southern Oregon and the Siskiyou region of California. Set in the picturesque town of Ashland (also home to the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival), AIFF provides an intimate setting that allows audience members, filmmakers and industry representatives a rare opportunity to interact over five days at various events, including screenings, forums, conversations, educational programs and informal gatherings.

AIFF is known not just as an excellent experience for attendees, but is known as a “filmmakers’ film festival.”AIFF3

“Ashland does everything right—the location is beautiful, they treat you like family, the programming is outstanding, the audiences are supportive and smart, everything is well-run, and they make it easy to meet other filmmakers in a relaxed environment,” said Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen, the filmmakers behind Marwencol. “By the end of Ashland, you want to make another movie just so you can come back and experience the festival again.”

Screening at a well-attended festival often helps a film on its journey to a distribution deal and greater success. There have been many examples of films screened at AIFF that have gone on to earn continued awards.AIFF1

According to Judy Irving, her film, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, was rejected by all the big festivals. “After our film was selected by Ashland, the momentum started building,” she said. “Recognition with the Audience Award helped us get two distribution offers, and now Wild Parrots is among the top 25 highest-grossing documentaries of all time.”

Because of the popularity of the festival with filmmakers, most films have someone in attendance who is connected with the film. Festival attendees are able to enjoy Q&As at most of the screenings and those sessions, along with the panels, make Ashland one of the best festivals on the circuit.AIFF2b

What to Expect at AIFF 2015
Every spring, over 7,000 film lovers gather at the festival’s venues to watch 80-plus documentary, feature and short films. Everyone looks forward to the opportunity to discuss independent film with fellow film lovers in line, in the theaters before the films begin, and at film festival events all around town.

The film festival’s Opening Night Bash takes place on Thursday, April 9, at the luxurious Ashland Springs Hotel. Presented by founding sponsor Rogue Creamery, attendees enjoy a sumptuous selection of award-winning cheeses paired with artisan chocolates, charcuterie, fruit, coffee, beer and wine. At the Awards Celebration on Sunday, April 12, AIFF toasts the Juried and Audience Award winners while feasting on delicious food and drink from the Rogue Valley’s finest restaurants, breweries and wineries.

New this year, the AIFF is excited to offer a two-hour filmmaking workshop from Rebel Heart Films, the new enterprise from Diane Bell and Chris Byrne, who made the AIFF10 Juried Best Feature Obselidia. The workshop will inspire, encourage and educate new filmmakers. Film lovers are welcome too, of course. This is a two-hour version of their two-day workshop. Registration and more details will be available soon on the AIFF website.

Free film festival events include AIFF’s thought-provoking and engaging TalkBack Panels with filmmakers, jurors and other industry professionals. Free screenings include the Locals Only program and the outstanding LAUNCH student film competition winners.

Beyond the five-day festival, the AIFF partners with Coming Attractions Theatres to present Varsity World Film Week in early October. This week-long celebration of international film offers a compelling and illuminating representation of world cinema, including documentaries and feature films, some not yet in national release.

For more information on the film festival and Varsity World Film Week, visit www.ashlandfilm.org.

A DREAM Come True for Indie Filmmakers

By Richard Beers

Literal representations of dreams have always played an important part of cinema, from George Méliès’ 1898 silent The Astronomer’s Dream to Christopher Nolan’s Oscar-winning Inception released over 110 years later. But it is the kind of dreams that Kiggins DreamOriginalindependent filmmakers have while lying awake at 3am fantasizing about their finished film’s future that led to the creation of the DREAM Film Showcase.

The DREAM Film Showcase is the inspiration of Vancouver, Washington, native Corey Moultrie, a local production designer and art director, and Derek Nickell, a cinematographer and editor and recent Los Angeles transplant. Moultrie had just finished his first short film, Our Lost (which Nickell had edited), and had always dreamed of premiering it on the big screen at the Kiggins Theatre, where he had been inspired by so many films during his youth. Not comfortable with the screening being all about them, the two put out a call to other Northwest filmmakers whom they had worked with to make the evening more of an event. Response was positive, and on September 18, 2014, the first DREAM Film Showcase (featuring seven shorts, three trailers and a music video) lit up the Kiggins screen.Kiggins OurLostPoster

Energized by the successful debut screening, Moultrie and Nickell approached Kiggins Theatre owner Dan Wyatt in the hopes of making the Showcase a regular event. Wyatt and program director Richard Beer had been discussing the creation of a similar series, so they enthusiastically joined forces. The group decided that although an emphasis would be put on showcasing local talent, the Showcase would open the competition to the filmmaking world at large. Dates were set for four 2015 screenings, and Nickell set up a profile with FilmFreeway to solicit entries. Within just a few weeks they were thrilled when they had received over 40 films from as far away as Sweden, Brazil, Belgium and China.

A look at the short film Hush.

A look at the short film Hush.

Though the theme of dreams isn’t a prerequisite for entering the now quarterly DREAM Film Showcase, the programmers have found that many of the strongest entries have tended to have a dreamlike quality to them, no matter their genre. Films in this past January’s Showcase included works by filmmakers from Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Spain. Two films shown were Oregon productions: Circles by Aaron Nelson-Caviglia and Melissa Gregory Rue of Portland, and Coppice by Shirlyn Wong of Milton-Freewater.

The Looking Planet screened as part of the DREAM Film Showcase.

The Looking Planet screened as part of the DREAM Film Showcase.

“It is the dream of all filmmakers to see their film projected with the best equipment on the biggest screen possible with an appreciative audience,” says Moultrie. “I hope that with the DREAM Film Showcase we can help make more filmmakers’ dreams come true.”

The next Showcase will take place April 30 at 7pm at the Kiggins Theatre, located at 1011 Main Street, Vancouver, Washington.

For more information on entering or attending future DREAM Film Showcase screenings, visit www.dreamfilmshowcase.com or www.FilmFreeway.com. Films must be under 25 minutes in length and produced within the last five years. All films chosen to screen receive a DREAM Film Showcase selectee award.

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