You may have noticed posts on your social media feeds containing the hashtag #FilminWA over the last couple of months. Wondering where that came from? Or what it’s all about? Well it can be traced back to Douglas Horn, a local filmmaker who wanted to create a visual record and a running conversation about the ongoing projects that are being filmed in Washington State. The simplest way to do so, Horn thought, was by using this hashtag on social media to encourage filmmakers, photographers, set designers, editors, and anyone else on a production to post about their in-state production on social media accounts, and thus, keep a running stream of the volume of work that is ongoing throughout Washington.
Horn was inspired by social media campaigns like #crewtopia and #setlife when he conceived of this social media campaign. We wanted to know more about why this is important to Horn and to the filmmaking community at large and what Horn hopes to see emerge from these efforts. We spoke with Douglas to find out just that. Read our exchange below.
Washington Filmworks: Why did you decide on this particular strategy for engaging the filmmaking community?
Douglas Horn: I talk with a lot of people in the industry, whether in working on my own productions, working as a director-for-hire, or just socializing with friends in the industry, and I recognized that there was a real desire to develop more of an identity amongst ourselves as people who work in this industry here in Washington State. There are some grassroots hashtags that people often use, such as #setlife and #crewtopia to show images from film sets. I wanted to create something as simple and fun but that was Washington-specific and also encompassed more of the filmmaking experience than just what happens on set—since writers, editors, composers, and a lot of other crucial contributors tend to get left out.
WF: Why did you choose to launch this effort now?
DH: It was the combination of a few different events. Early in the year there was some hubbub in the Seattle film community. I think it became apparent that we hadn’t done a great job at making our industry visible and vocal. We mobilized briefly and gained some recognition. Since then people have been eager to stay more engaged. A few months later, Washington Filmworks announced that it exhausted its annual incentive allotment with just two projects—and had to turn away several other projects that had intended to film here. While it is great to get bigger projects filming in the state, I think that the sudden recognition that our incentive cap could be reached so easily made people in the entire industry here experience that same recognition that the Seattle community had earlier in the year. It’s becoming more apparent that we will need to coalesce as an industry in this state to make our case about what we need to continue to grow, flourish, and expand the economic activity that we bring in. So, while the #FilminWA campaign is very simple, it gives us the chance to start to bond as a statewide industry and show some of our breadth and depth.
WF: What are the primary goals of the engagement plan?
DH: Well this is a pretty simple social media campaign, so I don’t want to overburden it with expectations. If #FilminWA gives people a way to show what they do in this industry, to stay engaged, and to help people making films, commercials, and television shows across the state—whether in Seattle, Spokane, Bellingham, the Tri-Cities or wherever—all feel a little more united as a community and industry, then I would count it as a big success.
WF: Do you anticipate or hope this will inspire anything else?
DH: Down the road, I hope that #FilminWA will yield a sizable number of great photos and tweets that we might use to help persuade and educate legislators and others about what we really do in a way that numbers alone may not. There are some persuasive statistics and studies showing why the WF incentive cap should be increased, for example, but we are a visual industry and we should also be prepared to make our case visually. Some great photos from the #FilminWA campaign could give us another way to make our case.
WF: What else should people know?
DH: This is a very simple campaign. The idea is just to post social media messages and photos using the #FilminWA hashtag. It’s meant to be a fun way to engage with others in the community that takes almost no time or effort. Pictures from film sets are fantastic, but I’d also like to see all the other elements of the industry as well. This summer is a great time to start while productions are busy. If you also follow @FilminWA on Twitter, you can automatically see many of the other great photos and tweets from others using the #FilminWA hashtag.
About Douglas Horn:
Douglas Horn is a director, writer, and producer for film, television, and commercial projects. He directed and wrote the feature film Entry Level (D.B. Sweeney, Missi Pyle) and the independent series Divergence. He also wrote the original script for Switchmas (originally Ira Finkelstein’s Christmas) which was made in Washington State. He writes about filmmaking and distribution on his blog DouglasHorn.com.