Category Archives: Production Resources

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Girls Get Powerful with Media

POWGirls participants represent the next generation of filmmakers.

POWGirls participants represent the next generation of filmmakers.

By Mary Erickson Guest Editor
Photos by Tony Evans

POWGirls is a filmmaking workshop for girls ages 15-18. Organized as an educational offshoot of POWFest, the Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival, POWGirls is committed to “helping girls realize their power, creativity and voice in media production and encourage them to explore opportunities as future filmmakers.” Two teams of girls produced and edited two films, Great Expectations and Words of Wisdom, both of which screened at POWFest on Sunday, March 15, at Portland’s Hollywood Theatre. I talked with Tara Johnson-Medinger, executive director of POWFest and POWGirls, about this year’s POWGirls workshop.

Mary Erickson: Tell me about the inspiration for POWGirls and how it started.
Tara Johnson-Medinger: Every year since POWFest started, we’ve been committed to showcasing work of young directors (youth 18 and under). We’ve always had a free submission selection process for them and we always do a collection of their work to showcase that during the festival.
We’ve been committed to making sure there is a platform for students to showcase their work, especially young girls. We’ve received entries from all over the country—actually all over the world, now—from youth-based media programs. It’s pretty dynamic, the amount of youth-created media out there.
As we were looking at the future of POWFest, we wanted to bring in the component of growing our next generation of filmmakers. We wanted to go beyond just showcasing their work and include an education program where youth could learn how to control media and create their own stories, and also get their hands on top-notch gear in the process.
Kids have iPhones that they can use to be a moviemaker instantly. POWGirls adds the extra element of crafting the story, a level of media criticism in terms of how aesthetically you’re approaching your piece and the connotations of certain shots. We want to get a little deeper into the effect of the media that they’re putting forward. There’s this opportunity to put the power of story and leadership into their hands.

ME: How did the first POWGirls workshop go?
TJM: We ran our first iteration of POWGirls in March 2014. We did a beta test because we wanted to make sure that the program could function properly. We wanted to make sure that young girls were interested, and that we could find the right team to run it.
We made some really strong partnerships in the community. We partnered with Portland Community Media last year, and they gave us the use of their space and equipment, which was a huge relief. We hand-selected six girls last year, put them through the process, and really took to heart their evaluations at the end of the workshop. Those six girls in 2014 participated in the program for free. We were able to work through some of our own kinks and get their feedback.
They made a movie over the course of the weekend of our film festival and showed it on Sunday afternoon. It was really intense. They did not have a lot of time to create their film, but they got it to screen. It was super exciting. The girls were changed. They were so articulate and proud of their work and up on stage commanding that audience. It was exciting to see that happen in front of us. We wanted to continue that program and grow it.POWGirls Outside_Photo by Tony Evans

ME: The 2015 POWGirls workshop just finished. Tell me about how it went.
TJM:  POWFest’s education manager Barb Myers, who was a mentor last year with POWGirls, really fostered the program, and we were able to grow to accommodate 14 girls. We initially said 12 but we had such a positive response that we opened it up to accommodate two more girls.
The girls came from high schools all over, even one from an online high school program and one who is homeschooled. It was fairly racially mixed. That’s something we need to continue to work on. We want to reach communities that may not get these opportunities as often. We want to make it equitable. We charged $200 per girl, but 50 percent of the girls were on some sort of scholarship, either half or full scholarship. If it was asked for, it was given. We want to be really inclusive with this program and I think we really accommodated those needs.
We partnered with MetroEast Community Media in Gresham, Oregon. They came forward with amazing gear. These girls got to use new 4K cameras. It was incredible to be able to say, not only are you going to get all this instruction on craft and stories, but you’re going to be working with top gear that a lot of working filmmakers work with. That’s a really exciting component of POWGirls this year.
Jennifer Dynes at MetroEast is really committed to what they’re doing in community media. These girls now have the ability to come back and use MetroEast as a facility.
It opened a door to a whole new world to these girls. You could really see a tremendous amount of transformation throughout the weekend. They crafted the story, executed it in production, got through the editing process, and came out with a final product.
I’m excited and proud of this program. I feel like we just said we need to do this, and we figured out a way to make it happen. The response was tremendous. Every single girl in our exit survey said they wanted to participate in an advanced class. We want to give these girls the opportunity to create their own stories.POW1

ME: What are you planning next for POWGirls?
TJM: We’re working towards doing an advanced program in the summer. Girls who participated in our initial POWGirls can come back. We want to work specifically with a designated client and we can match them with mentors and take them through a project-based image piece for a nonprofit. The goal is to give them more project management skills and bring the professional level to them and to continue the experience.
The biggest hurdle that we have in growing the program is funding for our program. That’s what we’re strategically looking at. How do we continue to sustain this program? We need sponsors and funders to step forward with financial contributions so we can sustain this important program year-round.

For more information, visit www.powfest.com/powgirls.

CASTING DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT

Casting QA Nike_Imoru-065-Edit-2Nike Imoru  
Nike Imoru Casting
www.nikeimorucasting.com
Nike Imoru, CSA, is delighted to announce the opening of an additional casting studio in Seattle. It means we will be able to extend our casting reach and make connections with many more actors, agents, managers, commercial clients, producers and directors across the State. It’s an exciting move for us and we very much look forward to serving our Seattle-area clientele. The NIC casting studios in Spokane will remain open and continue to serve Spokane-area projects. In a gesture of collaborative enterprise, we are also thrilled to be sharing resources and creative synergy with Credence Productions, a company of producers and talent managers who are bringing their dynamic East-West Coast management team back to Seattle. Key Credence staff include: Tom Klassen, Co-Founder and Head of Talent; Michael Bloom, VP of Talent; Dawn Wilson, Manager and Producer; and Riley Charles, Head of Operations.
Seattle Location / Nike Imoru Casting
1705 Westlake Ave N #105, Seattle, WA 98109
Nike Imoru Casting is located in the McHugh building, on the west side of Westlake Ave N in Seattle. There are hundreds of public parking spaces in a lot across the street from us, on the east side of Westlake.

casting - Lori Lewis Lori Lewis  
FreeSpirit Casting
www.freespiritcasting.com
Lori had an extensive background in the entertainment industry as an entertainer/actor before discovering casting and how much she loves it! She launched FreeSpirit Casting (FSC) on May 1, 2013 with the indie film Deep Dark, followed by the web series Exceptionals, along with several local commercials. In 2014, Lori was asked to cast the indie film Lily on Saturday, two more series, Runestone and Camp Abercorn, along with several more commercials.
“At FSC we like to do things a little differently,” says Lori. “For example, all the commercial jobs we cast in 2014 were done without the need for callbacks. This saves everyone time and money. Another thing different about FSC is the follow-up with talent after casting, letting all know whether they were cast or not. It’s such a simple thing to do with today’s technology.”
Simply put, Lori loves actors, the collaborative creativeness of this industry and finding new talent. Because of her background, Lori makes an extremely effective and empathetic casting director, stating, “I strive to be the type of casting director I always hoped I’d get to audition for when I was an actor.”

casting Denise GibbsDenise Gibbs  
Foreground Background LLC
www.foregroundbackground.com
Denise Gibbs, owner of Foreground Background LLC, grew up in the world of theater and music performance as a director, writer, performer and actor. In 2006 she made the jump from theater to film and television production. Before doing film, she was the project manager of a local graphic & web design firm. She also became the managing editor of a local newspaper, while producing and directing small local children’s theater, a reader’s theatre and event planning for faith-based family events.
Denise has been a part of the casting process for numerous local and national commercials, television, film, corporate videos and new media projects here in the Pacific Northwest. She directed the first season of The Vanessa Waller Show, a talk show that won the SCAN TV Award for Favorite New Program. And she was part of the producing team that won the Accolade Competition Winner award for the film Of Yesterday and Tomorrow.
Denise currently works as an extras casting director for most of the major film, television and commercial projects that come to Seattle. She also does principal casting on smaller projects. Denise has found having a background in theater and journalism also provides a foundation for working on commercials that involve “real people casting.”

Casting Amey ReneAmey René  
Amey René Casting
www.ameyrene.com
Amey René is a casting director with over 15 years of industry experience. She started her casting career with Jeff Greenberg on the Emmy Award-winning show Modern Family. She now casts feature films, television and commercials. Amey is a member of the Casting Society of America. Recent projects include the films Captain Fantastic and Laggies, both filmed in Seattle, as well as commercials for Nike, GoldieBlox and the University of Washington.

Talent Services: Much More Than Just Payroll and Paperwork

There are very few companies in the country—and even fewer in the Northwest—that are able to provide the multifaceted services that Talent Services does for its production clients.

The Lynnwood, Washington-based company not only provides payroll management, but they also offer union signatory services for industrial programs and manage all of the employer responsibilities, which allows their clients to focus on their productions—not on paperwork.

“We’re the middle man between the government and the various unions in the media industry,” explains Talent Services owner Gunnvor Tveidt. “So we handle all the payments, obligations, and all the liabilities for the government and the unions. And that was one of the reasons this business was started. Many companies, many smaller producers, don’t want to get saddled with all the paperwork and obligations to sign up with the state for workers’ comp, unemployment, taxes, etc. It’s time-consuming to handle when you’re busy making your living doing something you like to do.”

Gunnvor Tveidt

Gunnvor Tveidt

Tveidt bought the company about 16 years ago from a friend who had started out in the casting business. “Working in casting, she realized that there was quite a need for production and payroll management for both the crew and talent side and the producers,” says Tveidt. “I wanted to grow the company and help fulfill this need.”

She knew that the business would be difficult to learn, but she was ready for the challenge.

“I’m Norwegian. I’m stubborn. I’m persistent. So even though I bought a company that already existed, I think there was a little bit of a question whether I was going to make it. But I never doubted I was going to make it and I’ve grown the company substantially since then.”

A major factor in this growth was Tveidt’s decision to expand into the union side of things, and, she says, “pretty soon we got to be quite good. No one else wanted to do it because it’s difficult.”

Due to the complex nature of the business, the high cost of entry, and the amount of financial security necessary to handle the liabilities, Tveidt has seen many competing companies come and go. “People think, ‘if Talent Services can do it, so can I. I know accounting, I know production, I can do it.’ And then they do not realize the complexities and the demand on a company like ours. So they don’t make it.”

Tveidt says that while there are several huge companies based in L.A. and New York that perform similar services, there are very few companies that are small- to medium-sized like hers. But with a huge company, clients don’t get the personal touch that they might get with a smaller company, which is perhaps why Talent Services has been able to gain so many national clients. Most recently, they’ve worked with Lego Batman, Nike, Adidas, and Wheel of Fortune (“Vanna White is the nicest person,” says Tveidt. “She knits!”).

In fact, Tveidt estimates that 75 percent of the work they do is for out-of-state clients.

“I know it’s hard to believe, but we do business with a great part of the larger companies in the U.S.,” she says. “We were just part of a Wells Fargo production and that didn’t take place in Washington or anywhere near the Northwest.”

And although the job includes a lot of time-consuming paperwork, Tveidt says that it is not without adventure.

On a recent project—she won’t name names—Talent Services was working for an Oregon-based company doing a snowmobile shoot in the Colorado mountains.

“As they went up the mountain 8,000 or 10,000 feet, there were warnings about white-outs and about staying off the mountain. That didn’t happen,” says Tveidt, laughing. “They ended up getting trapped. People had to be airlifted out. Someone broke their leg. It was really, really bad. They went up there with tennis shoes and froze their toes. That was a huge helicopter bill.”

She continues, “People in the industry, they’re fun people, they’re creative people and risk-takers, and this was like a total synopsis of how they use their talent. I have to laugh about it.”

This good-natured, “can and will do” attitude, combined with high integrity and exceptional payroll management services, has produced what Talent Services calls “raving fans”—clients that come back again and again.

For more information, visit www.talentservices.com.