The strength of filmmaking in the Pacific Northwest flows not just from the base of dedicated talent and crew, the support of film incentives, and the artistic spirit of the region, but also from the initiatives of programming and broadcast outlets like KCTS 9. KCTS 9 is a public broadcasting station based in Seattle and a member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Their new initiatives and programs demonstrate that KCTS 9 is actively cultivating their commitment to the Washington filmmaking community.

“The Pacific Northwest is blessed to have an extraordinarily creative filmmaking community,” said KCTS Executive Director of Programming, Randy Brinson, “and KCTS is extremely fortunate to work with and support that community. Independent filmmakers take creative risks, tackle complex issues and express points of view rarely explored in the mass media. We take great pride in broadcasting such work to audiences in Washington and Canada.”

The station first went on the air on Dec. 7, 1954, broadcasting from the campus of the University of Washington using equipment donated by KING-TV owner Dorothy Bullitt. Today more than 2.7 million viewers in Washington and British Columbia tune in every week, with another half million visiting the KCTS 9 website. The station offers the most popular PBS programming to website visitors free of charge via their online player.


Indie filmmakers Jhene Erwin (The House I Keep); Peter Edlund (Love, Seattle); and Eric Becker (Honor the Treaties), are interviewed by filmmaker Lynn Shelton for KCTS 9’s Reel NW. (Hilda Cullen image courtesy of KCTS 9)

In 2010 KCTS 9 launched the Reel NW series; aimed at finding the best features, documentaries, and shorts in Western Washington, British Columbia, and beyond. Reel NW is now seeking entries for its fourth season. Local filmmakers may submit films for Reel NW’s Season 4, and encourage their colleagues to enter films. PBS and KCTS 9 have a strong commitment to independent film, with programs like POV, Independent Lens, and Reel NW. These series provide a year-round broadcast footprint for independent filmmakers, and the local community can help by getting the word out about these programs.

Their support of independent filmmaking in the Northwest has made KCTS 9 a strong ally to organizations such as the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) and the Northwest Film Forum (NWFF). KCTS 9 provided a film grant last year that was awarded through the NW Film Fund of the NWFF. In 2012, KCTS 9, in partnership with SIFF, added a new award to the festival, honoring Northwest feature films; the Reel NW Award. The inaugural award was presented to director Megan Griffiths for Washington incentive film Eden, and in 2013 to Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton, directed by Northwest filmmakers Eric Slade and Stephen Silha. KCTS 9 is also the sponsor and host for the Fly Filmmaking Challenge. Fly Films from 2012 were aired on Reel NW and online in May 2013.

The station’s newest series PIE, about life and culture in the Pacific Northwest, has grown to be another platform for featuring independent film and filmmakers. The new season will start in October of this year and filmmakers are welcome to contact KCTS at pie@kcts9.org to suggest new content.

Not stopping there, KCTS 9 has partnered with award-winning filmmaker Dawn Porter on a project called Spies of Mississippi, which will air on PBS as part of Independent Lens in 2014. Spies of Mississippi is the first of a new pipeline of KCTS 9 programs intended for national and international distribution.

KCTS 9 has recently launched 9 Media Lab; a brand new initiative for digital storytelling. Through projects and workshops students and participants will develop crucial technical and storytelling skills as they are introduced to the elements that create good content. In partnership with One Reel, producers of the Bumbershoot Festival, and three area high schools, 9 Media Labs selected 50 teens to be the official filmmakers of the Bumbershoot Festival. Students have full access to film all performances and to cover the fascinating, and sometimes bizarre sites during the festival weekend.


Image from “Honor the Treaties” Directed by Eric Becker, Reel NW Season 3, 2013 NW Regional Emmy® Award.

The quality of KCTS 9 programming was highlighted when programs and producers received 20 Northwest Emmy nominations for a diverse range of subjects, including environmental and history documentaries, public affairs and investigative reporting, arts programs, and even a cooking show. KCTS 9 went home with five Northwest Emmy Awards, including two for Reel NW films; Preguntas Hermosas by Chris Volckmann, and Honor the Treaties by Eric Becker.


Image from “Preguntas Hermosas” Directed by: David Viau, Reel NW Season 3, 2013 NW Regional Emmy® Award.

Outreach and initiatives offered from KCTS 9 are not exclusive to Seattle. KCTS 9 also operates KYVE 47 in Yakima, extending their support of filmmakers to the Tri-Cities area and Central Washington. KYVE 47 partners with Central Washington University including CWU On Stage, and broadcasts other local, original programming.

Three quarters of KCTS 9’s annual budget, roughly $12 million in contributed revenue in 2012, comes from the support of members. All of KCTS 9’s filmmaking initiatives are open to participants from Washington State and British Columbia, and their support of local filmmakers and filmmaking runs deep.

Washington Filmworks would like to thank KCTS 9 for all that they do to enrich the local filmmaking community and for their continued dedication to acknowledging and sharing the work of our state’s filmmakers.

Care to learn more or submit your work to KCTS 9? Local filmmakers may submit films for Reel NW’s Season 4, and encourage their colleagues to enter films. Filmmakers can follow @KCTS9 and @ReelNW on Twitter and Facebook for schedule info and to share content.