Action! Seattle Film Summit organizers say it’s time to build the industry in the state

So you have an idea for a scenario. It’s really great, isn’t it?

And while there has never been a better chance to make your film run – the industry is hungry for great stories, the technology you need to make it is literally in your hands – Hollywood is 1,129 miles away. and you don’t know where to start.

The Seattle Cinema Summit, September 3-11, is here to help.

“There is so much that the Pacific Northwest has to offer and the summit is really, in my opinion, a great place to network and learn how to develop these things,” Bellevue writer and producer Jonathan said. Keasey.


Keasey has two ongoing projects in the area. One is a true story based on the inspiring life of Amanda Ogle – which you may remember from columnist Danny Westneat’s reporting a few years ago – and the other is a remake of a science film – Chinese fiction starring the Aldis brothers and Edwin Hodge. In addition, he is in financial negotiations on two other Seattle-based projects that he cannot speak to yet.

Keasey won’t lie. If you want to be in high-profile Hollywood productions, you’ll need to make connections in Los Angeles and at least go back and forth. But there’s no reason you can’t start here and now.

The place is full of ideas.

“There are some incredible stories in the Pacific Northwest that just because we’re here the people of LA don’t know about it,” Keasey said. “For example, I’m involved in a Seattle musical series in the late 80’s that has a really big studio behind it and a lot of big names because everyone knows about big bands, but people don’t know about it. the groups that led to these groups.

The lesson was instilled in Washington-born Keasey almost when he returned from LA to Washington to raise a family two years ago. He just had to pick up the newspaper. Ogle was right there, staring him in the face.

“Danny Westneat wrote this [column] about this woman who had been sleeping in her car for a year and the car was towed away and she was living on the streets and in a shelter then, ”Keasey said. “And I read this article, and no one in LA was reading this article and no one in New York or London was reading this article. I read this article and said, ‘Oh my gosh that’s a mini Erin Brockovich.’ “

He recently completed the script and got the nod from Ogle, who will appear with Keasey and Westneat on a panel on the summit experience – a hybrid event this year that will be live, with in-person events scheduled for the last day . This is just one of the many opportunities you will have to learn how to design and execute a script idea. Or any other aspect of the achievement that is of interest.

Organizers are planning more than 70 hours of cinematic content this year. Speakers and panelists include Alvy Ray Smith, co-founder of Pixar and Lucasfilm’s IT division, the Hodge brothers, “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” producer Stewart A. Lyons and a number of producers, actors, screenwriters and industry professionals, many of whom will be available for networking.

The goal, said Ben Andrews, founder of the summit, is to create the workforce that will lead a creative industry in Seattle, which has lagged behind other North American film centers for a number of reasons. .

Ben Andrews, founder of the Seattle Film Summit.  (Ali Mohensian)


“You’ll find this in any film hub, whether it’s Vancouver, LA or New York,” said Andrews, “but the cinema has to be the lifeblood of your creative economy because it is the umbrella for so many others. creative savings within this. Cinema employs screenwriters, actors, directors, construction workers, makeup artists, wardrobes – go for it. And so, as the film industry grows, all of this creative satellite economy grows as well. “

Andrews has been preaching this message since 2013 when he founded the summit and there are signs that political leaders in western Washington are starting to see the potential. A big disconnect for the state is Olympia’s reluctance to fund incentives that would attract more film projects.

Andrews has therefore set up a political forum in which elected officials and candidates across the region can learn and discuss the region’s film industry and the widely missed opportunity here.

“I mean a quarter of our attendees this year are state officials,” Andrews said. “They are senators, they are county leaders, they are city leaders and council members. This is the Seattle room [of Commerce], this is the Kent room. So all these civic and private institutions in our state are starting to say, “We need to focus on the film industry. But bigger than that, we need to start focusing on our state’s creative economy. “

Another actor is actor Tom Skerritt, a longtime Seattle resident who believed the area might be on its way to becoming a film industry when he starred in Evergreen State’s productions “Singles” and “Smoke Signals. “in the ’90s. But he said he felt that few people took the opportunity seriously in the years that followed and that places like Vancouver and Atlanta happily stepped in.

The little filming that is done here is mostly location work, he said.

“If they come in with money from Hollywood to spend that money here, that’s not what I call an industry,” Skerritt said. “You have to create your own projects here, find them and carry them out here, and then disseminate them to the outside world. And that income comes back here from outside. It is an industry.

Skerritt used Sherman Alexie’s “Smoke Signals” as an example.

“He went to Sundance three summers in a row to learn how to adapt a bestselling book and write ‘Smoke Signals’, and we did and went to Sundance,” Skerritt said. “It won four awards and sold to Miramax for a profit of $ 2 million, which returned as is. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Seattle Cinema Summit

From September 3 to 11. The hybrid event will be in line with in-person events scheduled for the final day at Hyatt Regency Lake Washington in Seattle’s Southport, 1053 Lake Washington Blvd N., Renton. Tickets: online ($ 50), in person ($ 100) or both ($ 140). Info: seattlefilmsummit.com

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