Given the devastation sweeping the city of New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana, one has to wonder if that big Hollywood movie Washington State lost to the impossible-to-beat tax incentives of Louisiana might come back to the Evergreen State. In one sense I hope it doesn't, because Louisiana could use the cash influx that a Hollywood production would provide. On the other hand, if their infrastructure can't handle the needs of production, our state's sure can. It's nothing we can lobby for—that would be in terribly poor taste—but if the production does decide to come back to us then we should welcome it with open arms. After all, Hollywood is a profit-driven machine that follows ease of production as much as money.
Of course, we won't see any long-term growth in local film production unless we nurture our homegrown talent. It's generally agreed that the best way for a city to pull out of its cinematic slump is to churn out good scripts. The hard part is that everyone who goes into production believes their script is great: Nobody wants to admit that it could be better. Writer-directors need to pass their scripts around to as many people as possible to learn the weak points and fix 'em, especially before production, while it's still cheap to do so.
Another way to learn about what works is by listening to writers who have had success. Northwest Screenwriters Guild, which brings film executives and filmmakers to town, has been a valuable resource in that regard. Their latest speaker is Kevin Noland, a University of Washington graduate who was born on a Washington Indian reservation, spent his formative years in the Middle East, and grew up traveling the world. Having produced features for cable, Noland presented his debut feature, Americano starring Joshua Jackson, at this year's Seattle International Film Festival. He'll be sharing his tales at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, September 9, at the Clear Channel Building (351 Elliott Ave W), with free admission to members of NWSG and most of our other local film and video-related organizations.
Speaking of SIFF, they've just announced their end-of-the-year deadlines—and entry is still free for all Washington State residents. The organization has also been running its own Screenwriters Salon for local writers and film lovers. Though the focus has often been on narrative feature film writing, that's not the only kind of writing that sells. Branching out from the old paradigm, SIFF is bringing two veterans of the television industry to impart wisdom on Wednesday, September 14, at 7:30 p.m. at Richard Hugo House. Al Higgins worked on Malcolm in the Middle and NewsRadio and Joel Madison worked on Undeclared and Roseanne, and their insight into backstage machinations and the underside of the entertainment industry is sure to be entertaining.
By the way, the ever-shrinking Washington State Film Office just announced that they are passing the reins of the Washington State Screenplay Competition over to the Northwest Film Forum after eight years.