One year ago Washington Filmworks (WF) launched a pilot funding assistance program called the Filmworks Innovation Lab. The program is different than WF’s standard program and was designed to address several requests from our local filmmaking community, who had been asking for:
- Programs that better nurture local, emerging filmmakers, offering opportunities to help advance their careers in the early stages
- Funding to foster groundbreaking projects, new storytelling and production models, and emerging technologies
WF was overjoyed with the interest in the pilot program. Split between 2 cycles, the Innovation Lab received more than 50 applications throughout 2012 and 2013. The Film Cycle offered support for emerging Washington resident filmmakers, helming more traditional film projects intended for theatrical or television distribution. The Innovation Cycle was designed to invest in, and encourage, the development of original storytelling that capitalizes on new forms of production and technology. During both cycles WF worked with a jury of industry experts to assess dozens of quality applications from filmmakers living in all corners of the state.
Tony Fulgham’s Box Walk was the first of the Innovation Lab projects to go into production and be completed. The short film is a coming-of-age story set in rural Washington that spans almost two decades. A quiet thirteen-year-old and his stepfather track down a wounded deer, but the lessons learned in those dark woods aren’t fully realized until the boy becomes an adult. Box Walk shot this March, bringing production into more remote areas of Washington, including Moses Lake, Soap Lake, Mazama, Winthrop and Cle Elum. The film was completed at the end of July, and is in the process of submitting to film festivals. Watch for Box Walk in 2014.
During both cycles, we have heard praise from applicants and an overwhelming majority saw participating in the program as an “invaluable learning process” that helped them better-develop their ideas. Applicant JD Davis of the Tacoma-based nonprofit Way Out Kids told WF “This process forced me to take a different look at my project and focus on areas I hadn’t thought of. At the end of the day, I believe the project has a better chance of success because of it.”
WF has received many inquiries as to when we will begin accepting applications for the Innovation Lab again. We are currently working with the filmmakers from the inaugural cycles to help them complete principal photography. We are also evaluating the effectiveness of the program. We will share news about the future of the Lab later this year, so watch for announcements in our Monthly Newsletter.