Innovation Lab Commits $175,000 to  Five Washington Filmmakers Pushing the Boundaries of Storytelling

Program invests in the future of filmmaking in Washington State 

Seattle, WA – June 10, 2012 – Washington Filmworks is pleased to announce the recipients of funding assistance from the Innovation Cycle of the Filmworks Innovation Lab. The program, which is part of a long term economic development strategy, is designed to invest in the future of film by tapping into Washington’s creative community and encouraging original storytelling that capitalizes on new forms of production and technology. The Board of Directors of Washington Filmworks may allocate up to $350,000 per year in funding assistance to support the motion picture production components of multifaceted, groundbreaking projects that apply to the Innovation Lab. For this inaugural Innovation Cycle, Washington Filmworks has allocated $175,000 to five exceptional projects.

Washington Filmworks worked with a jury of industry experts to evaluate projects and select funding assistance recipients from twenty-five diverse applications from across the state. The jury represented all facets of motion picture production, multiplatform storytelling, and emerging entertainment models. Final decisions were based on the merits of each project and its investment in Washington State. The Board of Washington Filmworks approved the jury recommendations for funding and the awards were announced on Saturday, June 8 at the Seattle International Film Festival. These projects, helmed by Washington resident filmmakers, will push the boundaries how of motion picture content is used and help create new revenue models for the motion picture industry.

“The five recipients of funding assistance have creative vision and a deep understanding of the business of film,” said Amy Lillard, Executive Director of Washington Filmworks. “As the digital revolution continues to shape the future of entertainment, each of these filmmakers are thinking creatively about how to leverage their story with existing technology resources unique to Washington. This entrepreneurial approach to filmmaking will inevitably lead to exciting new business models that will help create more jobs and economic activity in the statewide motion picture industry.”

The following is a list of projects that received funding assistance and the teams associated with each production. Also included are a brief synopsis and jury commentary on each project:


The Maury Island Incident – Steve Edmiston (Writer/Producer) and Scott Schaefer (Director/Co-Producer)

Synopsis: The Maury Island Incident is the incredible true story of the aftermath of Harold Dahl’s alleged sighting of six UFO’s over Puget Sound in 1947. The incident sparked a national obsession with “flying saucers,” and was personally investigated by J. Edgar Hoover, before being eclipsed by a sighting in Roswell, New Mexico and eventually lost to history. This project includes a short film, an episodic web series, and interactive engagement with science fiction and conspiracy fans.

Jury Comments: “Equal parts mystery and documentary, The Maury Island Incident exposes a fascinating hidden history: the first recorded UFO incidents in the US didn’t occur in Roswell, but in Washington. This captivating project brings a spooky local legend to light and sets the stage for ongoing storytelling on the subject.”


Science-Trak (formerly referred to as Project Pluto) Kevin Maude (Executive Producer) and Graeme Lowry (Producer)

Synopsis: An educational app for tablets that helps kids engage with, and learn about the fascinating worlds of meteorology, astronomy, geology, and marine biology. Children enter an immersive world of facts and fun via a mysterious, long-forgotten train station with various themed rooms to explore. The app includes a panoply of options for kids to choose from, including riveting video segments, little-known details from experts, do-it-yourself experiments, and quizzes. All aboard!

Jury Comments: “We loved this project’s innovative methods of teaching science to children. We think the combination of gameplay, short films, and “live” experiments really embraces the concept of next generation storytelling that is a hallmark of this cycle of the Innovation Lab. We’re excited to help Science-Trak develop new content and extend its ability to turn children onto science, geography and other fascinating subjects.”


Rocketmen – Alycia Delmore (Producer/Actor) and Webster Crowell (Writer/Director)

Synopsis: Part drama and discussion of “jobs programs,” part comedy and certainly a deranged adventure, Rocketmen is a web serial featuring a host of Seattle performers, with animated interludes by Webster Crowell. Rocketmen were intended to combat the threats of tomorrow. If those threats never arrive, what purpose will they serve? Who do they save? Rocketmen want to know: are you in peril?

Jury Comments: “Rocketmen presents us with an intriguing mix of lemon drop dry drama, deranged adventure and delicious comedy all wrapped around an earnest discussion of the role of government and jobs programs. Showcasing Seattle from rooftops, the hydrogen-fueled, rocket pack-wearing Rocketmen will confront giant robots and government conspiracy in epic sky battles. This trasmedia tour de force is sure to be quite the hoot!”


People of the Salish Sea – Tracy Rector (Producer/Director) and Lou Karsen (Producer/Co-Director)

Synopsis: People of the Salish Sea is an interactive project made up of new media, including underwater mapping, online environments documenting the Canoe Journey, and community-produced storytelling. At the hub of this project is Clearwater, a feature length documentary, about the tribal peoples of the Salish Sea. This character-based story will document long practiced culture, cutting edge science, the hazardous world of geoduck diving, and the fight to protect a resource in peril. Join them on this immersive journey through the Salish Sea!

Jury Comments:This project not only uses new media in an innovative way, but will also train young filmmakers and create new jobs in Washington State. The Seattle-based, Longhouse Media team has a decade of experience working with Native American youth and communities in the Pacific Northwest and has become an important force in the Washington film community. Their past projects have been nationally broadcast on PBS and Tracy Rector is a Sundance Fellow.”


Emerald City – Lacey Leavitt (Writer/Director) and Eric Stalzer (Co-Writer)

SynopsisEmerald City is a transmedia story experience, based on The Wizard of Oz, but rooted in a fantastical neo-noir setting. Audiences are immersed in the story via numerous platforms, including a web series, online puzzles, an augmented reality app, live cabaret performances and even an e-book.

Jury Comments: Emerald City fully embraces the concepts of transmedia storytelling. We are excited to help this project be realized and see it grow across not only film and episodic content, but other platforms as well. It is exactly the kind of cutting edge project that the Innovation Lab was established to incubate. Plus, the collision of Seattle and the L. Frank Baum worlds promises really creative and interesting storytelling.”


 About the Innovation Lab

The Filmworks Innovation Lab is designed to invest in our local creative community and to encourage the development of original storytelling that capitalizes on new forms of production and technology. By leveraging our existing film infrastructure and the diversity of our in-state technology resources, Washington is uniquely positioned to incubate a groundbreaking digital entertainment platform that fosters a new Creative Economy for Washington State. More information on the Innovation Lab here.

About WF: Washington Filmworks is the non-profit 501(c)(6) organization that manages the state film and production incentive programs. Its mission is to create economic development opportunities by building and enhancing the competitiveness, profile and sustainability of Washington’s film industry. We do this by creating possibilities for local and national filmmakers, offering comprehensive production support, as well as financial incentives.