This May film industry professionals representing the Seattle film community met with Mayor Ed Murray to discuss the future of the film in Seattle. Mayor Murray was thanked for his two decades of support for our industry as a State Representative and Senator in Olympia. The group asked for the Mayor’s continued commitment to advancing the industry in Seattle and Washington State.
The meeting was an important step in setting a prioritized agenda for film in the city. Mayor Murray was engaged and committed to helping create a long-term sustainable film industry in Seattle and Washington State. The group discussed a wide range of issues including statewide film incentives, Commercialize Seattle, and the need to expand the film permitting capacity at the Seattle Office of Film + Music to help keep the film production process nimble and responsive. Representatives who met with Mayor Murray encouraged his office to focus on the following action items:
Capacity at the Seattle Office of Film + Music – The Office of Film + Music manages permits, but it is also a frontline sales force for motion picture production. The office has seen a 110% increase in film permitting since 2008 and it is currently at its maximum capacity to meet demands and the necessary customer service standards.
- Community representatives encouraged Mayor Murray to provide the essential resources identified by the Office of Film + Music to keep the office functioning at the highest level as film production increases in Seattle, including prioritizing film permit processing with all City departments, and leveraging this priority with regional (King County, Port of Seattle, etc.) agencies.
Washington Filmworks’ Production Incentive Program – The production incentive program remains the best tool Washington State has to win motion picture business and the availability of incentive dollars remains key to a producer’s decision-making process. Despite Washington State’s national reputation as a home for independent film and commercial work, Washington has the 5th smallest incentive fund in the country. The entire 2014 fund has already been awarded to production companies, meaning Washington Filmworks will be turning away all production funding requests until 2015.
- As a leader of one of Washington State’s production centers, community representatives asked Mayor Murray to make increasing the funding available for Washington State’s incentive program a legislative priority for the City of Seattle.
City Incentive Program – A city film incentive would greatly increase the competitiveness of Seattle as a destination for film production. Snohomish County has had great success with their incentive and, in fact, their lucrative financial incentives lured two feature film productions to their area that had an estimated $8.4 million of economic impact in the local economy. A City of Seattle film incentive program could align closely with the policy priorities of Mayor Murray’s administration, for example offering production incentive dollars for green filming, for hiring disadvantaged employees, integrating youth education, filming in economically challenged areas, etc.
- Community representatives asked that Mayor Murray research and develop a city-based incentive that would encourage more motion picture production within Seattle city limits.
Expansion of Commercialize Seattle – Commercialize Seattle is a private / public business development campaign designed to bring more advertising work to the city and region. Launched in August 2013, the campaign is a partnership between the Seattle Office of Film + Music and Washington Filmworks, and is responsible for increasing the best paying work for our local crews, and serves as a long-term vision for the film industry.
- Community representatives asked that the Mayor provide funding resources, determined by the Office of Film + Music as necessary, to continue and grow this unique and beneficial job creation resource.
Elevating the Office of Film + Music – It the understanding of those who met with the Mayor that the Director of the Office of Film + Music has been at the cabinet table under every recent Mayoral administration, with the exception of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. Having a relationship with, and access to, these cabinet leaders is critical to the success of the Seattle Office of Film + Music because it signals that filming is a priority of the administration and helps to ensure that the office works efficiently and effectively.
- Community representatives offered to work with the Mayor to identify ways that the Office of Film + Music can continue to be a key part of his administration.
In attendance at the meeting were Mayor Murray and his policy advisors Amanda Scott and Maggie Thompson, as well as community representatives Mary Bacarella, Peter Barnes, Kate Becker, Buzzy Cancilla, Tony Doupe, Doug du Mas, Megan Griffiths, Douglas Horn, Donna James, Don Jensen, Ron Leamon, Lacey Leavitt, Amy Lillard, Alan Nay, Tracy Rector, Bob Riggs, Chris Swenson and Lynn Shelton.
Washington Filmworks sincerely appreciates Mayor Murray’s time and attention. We look forward to continuing this conversation with his office, with colleagues in King County, and the community.