For a while in the '90s, Seattle was a ﬁlm town above and beyond its ravenous audiences. Perhaps it was the grunge phenomenon that got us the attention, but our ﬁlm community was able to lure Hollywood money and productions here. Well, movies are still being made in our city, but now it's homegrown, low-budget productions instead of big-budget Hollywood pictures. What happened? Vancouver can't be taking all the work that used to come here, so where did it go? And can we get it back? Do we even want it back? Should we stick with local productions even as our most talented crew members move away to make a living wage?
Here's where I need your help. On Saturday, June 4, at 11:15 a.m., I will be moderating a discussion for a SIFF panel at the Broadway Performance Hall called "The State of Seattle Filmmaking." Whether you work in the industry, want to work in the industry, or just have city pride when it comes to ﬁlm, I want to know what you think of Seattle as a ﬁlmmaking town and get your ideas on how we can make it even stronger. Please e-mail me your perceptions to the address at the bottom of this column-because in this industry, perceptions can be even more important than reality.
Joining me on the panel is a great cross-section of the industry at large: Suzy Kellett (Washington State Film Ofﬁce), Andrew McAllister (writer/director, Shag Carpet Sunset), Bill Murray (Northwest Screenwriters Guild), Jennifer Roth (coproducer, The Squid and the Whale), Michael Seiwerath (Northwest Film Forum), and Rick Stevenson (writer/ director/producer, Expiration Date). The State Film Ofﬁce has been in the news ever since Governor Gregoire talked about eliminating it, and we'll get the latest update on that, but we'll also talk about shooting every level of ﬁlm in Seattle. It'll be fun and interesting and I just want to make sure we hit all the issues that are out there, so e-mail me!
Normally the independent ﬁlm venues shut down or slow to a crawl during the Seattle International Film Festival, but not this year. There are lots of interesting things happening. One that I ﬁnd most fascinating is something called The Kodachrome Memories on Friday night, June 3. Taking place at the SS Marie Antoinette (1235 Westlake Ave N), which apparently is a warehouse that wishes it were a ship, the event originated when Jason Ryan was hired to clean out an abandoned apartment and found hundreds of slides, photos, and 11 ﬁeld recordings. Collaborating with his friend Nelson Harst, he edited the ﬁeld recordings down to 45 minutes and will project the found slides off of six simultaneous slide machines. Live music starts at 8:00 p.m., and the show will begin around 9:15. For more information, go to www.sublevelthree.com.
Meanwhile, the very new and very ambitious Seattle True Independence Film Festival (STIFF) will be playing this weekend at multiple venues. The opening night feature is Burning Annie, a ﬁlm about a guy trying to put his Woody Allen addiction behind him that's been playing the festival circuit and will screen Friday night in the Rendezvous Jewel Box Theater. The STIFF organizers have also rented the Seattle Art Museum for all of Saturday, which will augment screenings on Saturday and Sunday at Northwest Actors Studio and the Rendezvous. They are presenting a handful of features, both local and from out of town, like Unsung, Swamper, Film 101, Right of the Bishop, The Cryogenist, Not Straight Forward, and the Seattle sci-ﬁ closing night ﬁlm, Xeros, plus a host of shorts. For more information, check out the STIFF website: www.seattletrueindependence.com. ■