By Jessie Wilson, Programs and Communications Coordinator (Interim), Washington Filmworks
Washington was buzzing with activity during the busy summer shooting season. From production resources to funding assistance, Washington Filmworks (WF) was busy assisting both incentive and non-incentive productions around the state. The WF Board of Directors approved funding for several projects, among them a national commercial that included a number of aerial shots featuring Mount Rainier. Not only did the commercial capture the beauty of one of our state’s natural treasures, it put more than 40 Washington-based cast and crew to work.
In the Seattle area, the Washington incentive feature One Square Mile found a home in the neighborhoods collectively known as Rainier Beach. The film, starring Kim Basinger, Richard Jenkins, and local Auburn High School graduate Cam Gigandet, shot a total of 10 days at 3 different residences.
Line producer Mel Eslyn was pleased with the welcome that the film received. “Rainier Beach literally opened their doors to our production,” said Eslyn. “Neighbors offered up their homes as locations, and visited our set with baked goods for the hardworking crew.”
Deborah Moore, One Square Mile producer, felt as if the look of the area was perfect for their production. “The juxtaposition of the working class neighborhood set against the beautiful backdrop of the Seattle skyline with views of the water on two sides added a striking visual layer to our film,” she explained. “It said a lot about our characters and literally was a made-to-order location for us.”
Not only did the area offer amazing visuals, but the relationship between Rainier Beach and the production was mutually beneficial.
“Several neighbors let us use their backyards and other areas for staging equipment and personnel,” said Dave Drummond, One Square Mile location manager. “On warm evenings many of them came out to watch the action from across the street.”
Production brought business to the area as well. Added Drummond, “The Rainier Beach Merchants’ Association provided us with information on local restaurants and businesses, which we took full advantage of.”
On the eastern side of Washington, incentive feature film Admissions, starring Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga, returned production to the Spokane and Pullman areas.
Admissions writer and producer Glenn German discussed their decision to partner with North by Northwest Productions (NXNW) in Spokane to make the feature film. “I had never been to the Pacific Northwest and didn’t know what to expect when we came to scout,” said German. He acknowledges that while the film wouldn’t have happened without Washington’s film incentive, he discovered a hardworking group of extremely talented crew at NXNW who made the experience of creating Admissions extraordinary.
“What began as a financial incentive became a collaboration that I and my fellow producers are tremendously grateful for,” said German. “The services and the caliber of the crew in Eastern Washington were wonderful. Across the board, from costume designers to production designers to editorial, all of the departments were first-rate. There isn’t a better group of people in the film industry. These are really special, hardworking craftsmen.”
Admissions scouted nearly 40 colleges in 6 states to find the particular look they wanted, finally selecting the campuses of Gonzaga University and Washington State University (WSU). “Both campuses had the locations we wanted, but they were gracious hosts, too,” said German. “We felt completely welcome. The students were excited to participate and all of our needs were handled warmly by the campus staff.”
Both German and director Adam Rodgers were met with such hospitality that they intend to revisit the campuses once Admissions is released. “Our time there was so inviting that we want to return to WSU and Gonzaga,” said German. “We’d like to screen the film, answer questions about production, and share our knowledge on the business of film with students and staff who are interested in filmmaking.”
German and Rodgers see a return trip as a small way of giving back for a fantastic overall experience. “This was a really exceptional partnership,” said German of his time shooting in the state. “One that included NXNW, Washington Filmworks, the campuses of Gonzaga and WSU, and Washington cast and crew. We hope that the quality of the relationship will be reflected in the caliber of the final product.”
With the renewal of the film incentive this past spring, Washington Filmworks couldn’t be more proud to bring an influx of film business back to Washington. If the collective experiences of this summer’s incentive productions are a sign of things to come, locations, cast, crew and vendors in both Eastern and Western Washington are enthusiastically welcoming back production, too.