Washington Filmworks Board Chair Don Jensen

I wanted to share with the community that the Board of Washington Filmworks (WF) has approved funding for several projects that will shoot in Washington State over the summer months.

We are pleased to welcome back to the state director Todd Rohal (The Catechism Cataclysm) to direct his new black and white 35mm feature film, Sweet Cheeks. The project is written by Rohal and Craig Moorhead and produced by Seattle based Mel Eslyn, Lacey Leavitt and Megan Griffiths, as well as former Seattle resident Zack Carlson. An unconventional adventure about two boys that find an unforgettable item inside a mailbox, the film is slated for a June start date and will shoot for seven weeks in Central and Western Washington.

The Board has also approved funding assistance for Season 2 of Z Nation. The SyFy series will return to Spokane this spring for five months of production and an additional 14 episodes. Retaining this series has remained a priority for WF because it represents consistent work for over 200 Washington workers on each episode and will employ approximately 1500 extras throughout the season.

The board also announced earlier this week that $100,000 has been allocated to two projects through the Innovation Lab, a program designed to support Washington based filmmakers and filmmakers using emerging technologies. Van Alan’s web series Automata (a partnership with Penny Arcade) and Ben Dobyn’s multi-platform world of Strowlers both represent cutting edge business models that could shape the future of film in Washington State. We continue to believe that investing in our local filmmakers is one of the most important things that we can do to create a long-term, sustainable film industry and we look forward to working with these filmmakers over the next year as they complete their projects.

An additional $200,000 remains held in reserve to accommodate commercials as part of our on-going commitment to Commercialize Seattle, a business development and marketing campaign to attract more commercial production to Washington State. This effort stimulated new commercial production last year and we look forward to bringing more this year.

These commitments exhaust the 2015 fund, less than two months after opening the application window. As the Board considered the applications, there were an additional four projects that were interested in filming in Washington State over the summer months. These projects would have generated an estimated $66m of economic impact in our state, and it is maddening that we had to tell them not to apply.

I wanted to write and share this information now as it underscores our important efforts in Olympia. During this critical time we need the community to stay committed to the cause and remain engaged in industry advocacy efforts.

As the Senate and House negotiate the final budget, WF will be sending out information that you can use to write and call your elected officials. Since both houses of the legislature will be involved with the final budget negotiation, now is the time to reach out to your Senator and Representatives. When you contact your elected officials, ask them to support the bill to increase funding for the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program and to make sure that the legislation is included in the final budget.

Should you have any questions, please direct them to myself or Executive Director Amy Lillard.

Thank you for your continued support and your help to Keep Film in WA.

Don Jensen
Chair, Board of Directors
Washington Filmworks