By Kaleigh Ward Interim Communications Coordinator, Washington Filmworks
Until you’re away from the usual haunts and surrounded by the new and unusual, it’s easy to forget that environment is intimately tied to emotion and experience. Your surroundings can trigger danger, nostalgia or romance. The flash of a location on screen can be a powerful touchstone that breathes life back into a forgotten experience. The ability to control these elements is huge in production. Luckily for us here in Washington, there’s no shortage of surreal locations and idyllic scenery. We’ve combed through our Location Database and picked some of the most unique, film-friendly locations Washington State has to offer.
Port Townsend, WA
Details: Fort Worden was originally a United States military base designed to protect Puget Sound. It’s now a Washington State park that’s home to 100 historic 19th Century structures, according to the Fort Worden website. The multi-use park stretches across 434 acres of land with access to 2 miles of saltwater shoreline and with views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains and the San Juan Islands. Houses for rent on Officer’s Row include original fireplaces, ornate tin ceilings, Tiffany lamps, and Victorian-style furniture.
Filmed Here: Enough (2002), An Officer and A Gentleman (1982)
Satsop Business Park
Details: Satsop Business Park was originally constructed as a nuclear power plant, but was never actually finished. It now functions as an industrial center, a technology campus, a workforce-training center, and more. This community-owned site offers a single filming location that includes two unused nuclear towers, a five-story, 270,000-square-foot cavernous reactor building, evergreen forests surrounding the plant, a campus-like business park and office space for production crew activities.
Filmed Here: Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
Titan Missile Base
Moses Lake, WA
Details: The Titan Missile Base, which was built to withstand a nuclear attack, is the largest U.S. underground missile base ever built. With thousands of feet of connecting tunnels and three 160-foot-tall missile silos, Titan makes a great location for sci-fi and action scenes, and it’s ideal for anything involving super-high walls, like indoor rock climbing. The base features an open-dome building with a 50-foot ceiling and an opening that stretches 125 feet in diameter. It makes a great location for post-apocalyptic scenery, as it spans nearly 60 acres above ground and is surrounded by barbed wire and chain-link security fencing. (Information courtesy Bari Hotchkiss)
Filmed Here: Deep Burial (2014 Washington Filmworks incentive project, not yet released)
Details: Leavenworth is a quaint Bavarian town tucked away in the Cascade Mountain Range. According to the Leavenworth Chamber’s website, in the early 1960s, town leaders decided to change Leavenworth’s reputation from a logging and sawmill town to a tourist attraction with a German-Bavarian face. It’s 1,100 feet above sea level and is surrounded by wilderness, mountain ranges, rivers and lakes. This location features year-round festivals and events and has a live outdoor theatre and nationally ranked outdoor recreational opportunities.
Filmed Here: Switchmas (2012), Mad Love (1995), On Deadly Ground (1994), Love Leads the Way: A True Story (1984)
Walla Walla, WA
Details: Walla Walla features 145 wineries and was recently named as one of the “Top 10 Wine Destinations in the World” by USA Today. These rolling hills provide surreal filming locations for dramatic and romantic effect. It’s also a great double for Napa Valley. A unique aspect of the Walla Walla wine scene is the fact that you have direct access to the winemakers, which provides a valuable resource for learning about the area and the thought process behind the wine itself, according to David Woolson, president & CEO of the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce. Says Woolson, “Things really get cooking at the vineyards from September through October when crush (harvest) begins. There is a small window to get the grapes off the vine at their optimal ripeness, flavor profile and sugar content.”
Filmed Here: Toys (1992)
Restored Western Town
Details: According to its Chamber of Commerce website, Winthrop has been home to a restored Western town since 1972, when local merchants pitched in to finance lumber baron Kathryn Wagner’s idea to start a reconstruction and restoration project for visitors passing through. The town’s structures all meet the standards of the era spanning from 1850–1890. Adding to the throwback charm of the town is the Winthrop Vintage Wheels Show (upcoming this September), which occurs annually. While this event may discredit the filming of an old Western period piece, it does provide an eclectic and unusual backdrop for other projects. There’s also an annual Winthrop Balloon Festival (next in March 2015), which fills the sky with dozens of hot air balloons set against the snow-capped mountains of the North Cascades.
Filmed Here: Various still shoots, American Pickers, Ice Road Truckers, REI commercial
To see more of what Washington has to offer, subscribe to the Washington Filmworks Location of the Month Newsletter or visit our online location database. You can also submit your home, lot, or business to our location database if you are interested in hosting a film project. Please see the Locations section of our website for more details.