Washington State's film incentive, which launched in 2007, is due to sunset this June. If it goes, thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars will go with it. It is essential to our creative culture and the state's economy that our legislators renew this program.
I have lived in Washington and worked in film for 17 years, spanning the time before and after the incentive, and I have witnessed how it has altered the landscape. It has fostered a community of artists and craftspeople who have been able to maintain the kind of year-round, family-wage jobs that simply did not exist before. Personally, it has provided an environment where I have been able to grow and thrive in an industry that fulfills me while living in a city that I love.
Aside from providing jobs for film professionals, a thriving film scene benefits countless other industries as well. Filmmakers spend money on hotels, food, furniture, clothes, lumber, technical equipment, insurance, airfare, gas, and all the innumerable needs that come along with building the world of each film and facilitating its creation.
And that’s all before the film is even complete. Once they reach theaters and streaming services, Washington-filmed projects bolster our profile and stimulate tourism—yet another form of indirect economic impact. The Oscar-nominated film Captain Fantastic, which received support from the film initiative, is basically a commercial for the beautiful forests of Snohomish County where it was filmed. My own film Lucky Them, which would not have been filmed in this state if the initiative did not exist, and which brought Johnny Depp to Carnation, shined the spotlight anew on Seattle’s vibrant music scene and the beauty of our lush landscape. And Sleepless In Seattle, which was shot 24 years ago, still turns a profit for those peddling merch at SeaTac and Pike Place Market.
The film industry spent $116 million in the state since the inception of our program. That is money that would have absolutely, undeniably gone elsewhere had our state not had an incentive. Two bills, one currently in the House (HB1527) and one in the Senate (SB5502) have been introduced with the goal of extending and enhancing the program. If we aren’t doing everything we possibly can to support the passage of these bills, we are leaving money on the table, and we are risking losing a vital component of our state’s creative culture.
What can you do?
Contact Speaker Frank Chop and let him know that you support renewal of the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program as it is currently structured in HB 1527. Ask him to let Representative Kristine Lytton (D-40) know of your concerns. Changing the program to one that depends on biennial appropriations will cause uncertainty and limit investments in film in this state. We have included a sample letter below. Speaker Chop needs to hear from as many film supporters from his district as possible. Please encourage friends, family and colleagues who live or work in the 43rd to contact him as well.
Megan Griffiths has directed six feature films: Sadie, The Night Stalker, Lucky Them, Eden, The Off Hours, and First Aid For Choking. She received the 2012 Stranger Genius Award for Film, was named the 2013 City Arts Film Artist of the Year, and was honored with the 2015 Seattle Mayor’s Award for Film.