All posts by Scott A. Capestany

Reminder! Today is Film Day with City Arts, SIFF and Washington Filmworks

Financially what does a film director in Seattle need to do in order to be a success, supporting themselves and their loved ones? How can a filmmaker take advantage of their skill and passion to be a commercial success without compromising their integrity as an artist?

To help better understand this, a panel of industry veterans has prepared a practical step-by-step guide about how to make a living as a film director in Seattle. Titled “Selling Without Selling Out,” this free event will be held tonight, October 20, at FRED Wildlife Refuge as part of City Arts Fest. The panelists, all talented Seattle-based directors, will share information and experiences about how they learned not only how to survive but to thrive in their chosen field. Drawing upon their perspective as members of Seattle’s directing community, they will provide examples of successes and shortcomings, shedding new light in how best to utilize resources in the region and how to employ creative thinking to overcome real-life obstacles.

The evening will consist of an hour-long happy hour followed by an hour of discussion with the panelists, moderated by Warren Etheredge.

REX Helps Bring Local Film to the Big Screen

What do you get when you have a well-told, well-shot story, and add to it the talented staff of audio/video engineers at REX?

The answer is Dancing on the Edge, an independent film from Vancouver, Washington-based production company Highland Light Productions. Portland’s REX provided post-production for the film, which has now garnered 10 Independent Film Awards, including one for Best Overall Post-Production.

REX brought its ‘A’ game to the table, performing post-production supervision, video editing, color correction, dialogue editing, ADR, SFX editing, Foley, 5.1 surround sound, and deliverables. The company played a critical role in bringing this locally produced, locally shot independent film to the big screen.

View the trailer here:

Thus far, Dancing has screened at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival (so packed, it turned away 160 people), Indie Fest, and the New York City International Film Festival (where it played to over 7,000 people in Times Square). Most recently, the film screened at the Tacoma Film Festival on Monday, October 10.

Next up, the film is scheduled to screen at the Gig Harbor Film Festival on Friday, October 14 (tomorrow night!), and later this fall, at the Lucerne International Film Festival in Switzerland and at the Prescott Film Festival in Arizona.

In addition, Alexander “Sandy” Mackenzie (the film’s writer, producer, and director) and Tom Zalutko (co-producer, supporting actor, and REX’s new account executive) will be representing Dancing on the Edge at this year’s American Film Market in Santa Monica, CA, in hopes of landing a distribution deal.


Director Jonathan Segal on set.

NxNW’s “Norman” to Hit Theaters Next Week

The newest film from Spokane-based production company North by Northwest is scheduled to hit select theaters on Friday, October 21.

Director Jonathan Segal on set.

Norman, shot in Spokane in June of 2008, was chosen to participate in the AMC independent™ program, which brings new and diverse indie films to theaters. It will screen in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Seattle and Spokane.

Directed by Jonathan Segal and starring Dan Byrd (Cougar Town, Easy A), Emily VanCamp (Everwood, the new ABC series Revenge), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, Step Brothers) and Adam Goldberg (Entourage, Dazed and Confused), the film is a coming-of-age story about a teenager whose life turns upside down when he finds out his father has cancer.

Norman has received rave reviews from critics, with Variety calling it “poignant and understated” and Woodstock Film Guide saying it “combines great pathos and sadness with moments of razor-sharp comedy, tenderness and fine performances that ensures it will stay in the memory of any viewer.”

See the trailer here:

Hollywood Theatre to Host Gus Van Sant & James Franco

Portland directing legend Gus Van Sant and actor James Franco will appear at the Hollywood Theatre this Sunday, September 25, for an “artist talk” and a screening of Franco’s <i>My Own Private River</i>.

After casting Franco in the award-winning film <i>Milk</i> (2008), Van Sant showed him the dailies and other footage that he had shot many years before for <i>My Own Private Idaho</i> (© 1991 New Line Cinema Corp. All rights reserved), which starred River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves as street hustlers in Portland.

Franco describes being mesmerized by Phoenix’s “uninhibited acting” in this unreleased footage. “I humbly asked Gus if I could…cut something together, and if he didn’t like it, I would never show anybody,” he said.

“I thought it would be interesting because it took us six months to cut the film together, and James was going to do it in a month,” said Van Sant. “By himself.”

<i>My Own Private River</i> consists largely of shots of Phoenix’s character, Mike, woven into a compelling portrait; his edit captures the gifted actor at his most emotionally expressive and physically dynamic. The score is by Michael Stipe of R.E.M.

Purchase tickets here.

The River Why Opens Tonight at Hollywood Theatre

The Oregon-filmed feature The River Why opens tonight, with stars William Hurt and Zach Gilford in attendance for the 7pm screening.

Based on the acclaimed novel, The River Why is the story of 20-year-old fly fisherman Gus Orviston, who leaves his big-city home in rebellion from his family. In the process he comes in contact with an assortment of eccentric characters who help him in his journey to adulthood.

The film runs through September 14th at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland. For tickets to tonight’s event or other upcoming screenings, visit



A Message from Becky Bogard, Chair of Washington Filmworks

As you all know, the 2011 Washington State Legislature failed to take the necessary action to renew the motion picture competitiveness program. As a result many questions have been raised about the continuation of the program. On behalf of the Filmworks board and staff, I hope to clarify the status of the program with this communication and to outline our plans for renewing the program.

Over the years of its existence, Washington Filmworks has had two major functions. It serves as the Washington State’s film incentive program and it serves as the film office for Washington State. The legislature’s inaction means that the tax credit that that provided funds for the incentive terminated on June 30, 2011, it does not mean that the functions of the film office terminated on that date.

Status of Incentive Funds. As you may recall the law provided that each calendar year Washington Filmworks could collect up to $3.5 million in funds from donors who were then entitled to a B&O tax credit. The Filmworks board was able to collect this entire amount before the tax credit expired on June 30 of this year. This has enabled us to provide incentive funds for 11 projects in 2011, which has made for a very busy shooting season. Because of these previously approved productions, there is approximated $500,000 of uncommitted funds available for production incentives.

What this means is that we will continue to accept applications until we have committed all available incentive funds. The Board has decided not to provide funds for commercial production until the legislation is renewed. The focus is on our first priority which is motion picture production which generates the most employment opportunities for Washington workers.

Film Office Activities. Knowing that the renewal of the program was not certain, the board of Washington Filmworks developed a contingency plan that would allow the portion of the program that serves as the state’s film office to continue to function although on a limited basis through June 2012. After reviewing the budget, the board took action to reduce staff and all other expenses. We believe this budget will still allow for meaningful assistance to filmmakers who are interested in coming to Washington State.

Future of Incentive Program. Please be assured that we will pursue legislation in the 2012 legislative session that will re-instate the tax credit so that we can continue the incentive program. The board believes that the current filming activity – four feature films currently in production that are generating $8.5 million for our economy – is clear evidence that this program works.

You will recall that the extension of the program passed the Senate with a sizable margin but failed to pass the House in the waning hours of the 2011 legislative session. Although we believe the votes were there, discussions about tax credits and other issues prevented the bill from making it to the House floor for a vote.

A legislative committee headed by Filmworks board member Don Jensen is already beginning to discuss strategy and plans for the 2012 legislation session. Just last week, the Washington State Labor Council adopted a resolution supporting reinstatement of the incentive. With the current financial situation of the state budget, it will not be easy to renew this program. However, we are working to show its effectiveness and widespread support not only in the film community but in the general business community.

We welcome your ideas about these efforts and participation in them. Please contact Amy Lillard expressing your interest and your ideas.

In conclusion, please be assured that Washington Filmworks is still “open for business.” We are working with filmmakers currently in production and we are accepting applications for the use of the remaining incentive funds. And, most importantly, we will continue efforts to get this program renewed. It continues to be our ongoing interest and intent to be transparent and communicate on a regular basis with the film and production community. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

BSE Wins Gold

Blackstone Edge Studios’ hit YouTube series, which recently surpassed 68,000 hits worldwide, has been awarded two EMPixx Gold Awards ( for the series.

Pack Your Kit has been garnering nothing but praise for the past year, with many, many requests for BSE to do another series. The awards are especially meaningful considering BSE was up against such big guns as CNN and BMW (with much larger budgets).

BSE co-owner Philip Clayton-Thompson conceived this series after years of being on the road as a pro photographer and wondering how other pros packed their kits to make life easier. It was very gratifying for him to see the idea come to fruition under his direction.

Oregon Production

If you’ve ever watched IFC, then you’ve seen their signature quirky-cool ad campaign. But did you know that it was designed and created by Oregon-based company Feel Good Anyway? Or that the 40-plus special effects in the NBC movie A Walk in My Shoes were done by Portland’s visual effects company Hive-FX? Or if you’ve been to Canada lately and seen Koodo Mobile’s adorable spokesman El Tabador, that he was produced by Bent Image Labs, based in—you guessed it—Oregon?

Thanks in large part to TV shows such as Leverage and Portlandia shooting in Portland (as well as the recently announced Grimm), Oregon’s profile in the film industry has been rapidly rising over the last few years. Perhaps lesser known, though, is Oregon’s amazing animation and VFX industry. Three of these companies are the subjects of featured Case Studies on the recently launched Oregon Animation blog.
Last year, NBC shot the feel-good family drama  A Walk in My Shoes entirely in and around Portland. Post-production work stayed local, too, as Hive-FX was hired to do all the visual effects for the film. Hive-FX brought top-of-the-line efficiency and professionalism to the project, as well as a Hollywood-level of quality. The film’s director, John Kent Harrison, praised the company’s work and is eager to collaborate with them again. The crew at Hive-FX has also lent their talents to ad campaigns for major companies like Quaker and Intel.
If “IFC” sounds familiar, it’s probably because they’re the people responsible for the hit show Portlandia. But they’ve also brought their business to Oregon in the form of an über-hip and amusing rebranding campaign handled by local company Feel Good Anyway. Feel Good Anyway won two different awards at the Brand New Awards for their work on more than 50 promos and IDs for IFC, in addition to a new logo and other brand amenities. In fact, IFC was so happy with Feel Good Anyway’s work that they’ll be keeping the company on for inspiration and additional creative partnering.
With the theme of Oregon companies winning awards for creative branding, Bent Image Labs helped earn Canada’s Koodo Mobile the 2010 Brand of the Year award from Strategy magazine. Bent designed the four-inch-tall Lucha Libre Mexican wrestler El Tabador to be the company’s spokesman and he’s been a runaway success. Bent used their experience with stop-motion sets and VFX miniatures to save time and money in scouting locations in Mexico for authenticity. Collaborating with Canadian agency Taxi 2, Bent designed El Tabador from initial sketch to final computer render.
Oregon companies pride themselves on creativity and innovation. Nowhere is this better seen than in the animation/VFX industry. With the spotlight on the actual filming process, it’s great to see these homegrown, behind-the-scenes companies doing so much in the industry. It’s not just familiar locations we should be looking for when we turn on our TVs or go to the movies, but for the local companies behind the magic.
To learn more about Oregon’s animation and VFX industry, go to

Lindsay Harrop is a summer intern with the Oregon Governor’s Office of Film & Television. She grew up in the Willamette Valley but now attends Ithaca College in New York, where she studies screenwriting. Says Lindsay, “There are so many fresh, exciting things going on in Oregon’s film industry right now that it’s an awesome place to spend the summer. I’m looking forward to writing about more of these cinematic endeavors over the course of the summer!”