The Film and Music Industries in Seattle Are Losing



Hope it turns around. Being a "hurry up and wait" extra can be fun for a lot of people.


Frustration understood. However, the rest of Seattle is also grappling with affordability issues and the impacts of runaway capitalism. Why would the creative industry feel it any less? How do these jobs/this industry morally require relief when thousands are sleeping on the streets?


@2: You're presenting a false dichotomy. Helping the homeless does not preclude other polices nor does it take revenue away from doing so.


interesting since NYC is still a city where filming happens for TV and film daily, despite the ever increasing costs. Will the city of Seattle shut down their office of Film and Music as a result?


@4 NYC doesn't have near the number of productions shooting there or production companies that there were just ten years ago. It's just such a much, much bigger market (with the somewhat cheaper Burroughs connected by mass transit so crew can afford to live with in an hour or so of the city) the there will always be more work going on there.

PS. Haven't you noticed how many movies are supposedly "located" in NYC but you suddenly see the Canadian rockies or even more laughably the Budapest Bridge in the background?


@5 I have no idea if that is true, but there are huge studios in Brooklyn (and also in New Jersey, which I realize is not NYC). And even the most cursory search comes up with 70 current productions (in NYC)

The Americans was fully shot in Brooklyn (despite supposedly being set in D.C.) which worked well for that series since Kerri Russell and Matthew Rhys live there. And Law & Order (all of its versions) have been filmed in NYC for decades. I get that a lot of celebrities probably do not live in Seattle the way they do in NYC, which also provides a distinct advantage. Even with that, though, NYC is not listed in the top three states for incentives (Massachusetts, Louisiana, and Georgia are). And Jersey is getting a lot of business, too (again, even though it is not in the top tier of states providing incentives).

I also don't know about your last statement other than that I expect there are far more productions that would like to film in NYC and just can't but they want the story set there so that's what they do (for example not one episode of Friends was filmed in NYC). Here are some other examples:



@3, how? If dollars are being sought, those are finite. The problems of homelessness and the arts industry are related, the article bemoans lack of affordability as a primary reason creatives are leaving. Not sure we need an Office of Film when an income tax would solve multiple problems at once: drive away high salaried residents, bring down rents (less homeless, more artists), and maybe find some money to deal with one off issues like funding arts projects or low income housing.


British Columbia holds the ranking of third largest production centre for film and television in North America for years, after Los Angeles and New York City.


@10: Dollars are not finite as wealth can be created.


@6. Well. I do KNOW it is true. You can look it up.

I worked in film after college and an ex (that I'm still good friends with) is a film producer who works(ed) mostly out of NYC (and yes, you'd likely know a couple of her films). And there are fewer films being shot there. Fewer being shot in LA for that matter - for the same reasons. It's too expensive.

The film industry NYC is older and more entrenched, but the reason gentrification doesn't eradicate the NYC film business is market size - it's 8X larger than Seattle - and of course NYC is world class iconic city with world class infrastructure. (Seattle? Not so much). And NY does have a 30% tax credit.


@13 I wasn't saying what you were saying was or was not true, I simply said I didn't know. Thanks for sharing the info you know. Having lived in NYC for nearly a decade (but I left in 2002), I also have a number of friends in the industry. I simply do not know enough specifics to state facts on the matter other than what is publicly available online.


I just posted a response to this article on facebook. I thought I'd share it here:

So many thoughts!!

For the last two years I’ve been a “full time” musician, meaning I’ve played less club/full band shows (because $150 split between 5 people is just not viable), and way more solo ambiance/background/brewery/winery shows. It’s been good in terms of growth and opportunity and getting to play for new people. It’s been very hard (and kind of lonely) playing my heartfelt original music for at times, little to no active listeners which helps me feel like what I’m doing matters. And it also at times can feel like a dead-end road. I mean, everyone wants to feel growth within their profession right?

I appreciate so much folks like Gigs4U, #NorthwestFlowerandGardenFestival and #artisthome who help artists like me get gigs at places like Seatac Airport and LOGE camps throughout the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been so fortunate to have these opportunities...the majority of my cd and vinyl sales have happened at these paid gigs, particularly at Seatac Airport. I've been a vocalist at one-off gigs, events, weddings, tribute shows, (many of these shows are benefit shows to contribute to places like Mary's Place etc) and I curate a popular tribute show at one of my favorite venues, The Royal Room.

Make no mistake. It’s a hustle.

In the meanwhile, I’ve had side jobs like nannying, catering, teaching paint-sip nights, and recently, teleprompting, which have helped me just scrape by so I can keep being a dedicated musician and artist. No insurance. Just enough to get by but certainly have to be careful with every expense, almost all my clothes are second hand etc etc.

It’s hard but we KNOW as artists and musicians that what we do is important and vital to humanity! How many times has someone said, “You have no idea how much better you just made me feel with your music. Thank you. Keep going.” And we WANT to keep going. But damn Seattle. You’re making it hard!!!

The tech boom and subsequent driving up of the cost of living, has made it damn near impossible for anyone to afford an apartment on their own, even “professionals”, let alone artists and musicians. Buying a house?!?! Please.

The money is out there! If a small percentage of that tech money was directed toward opportunities, grants and more financial support for arts organizations that are out there already, like #jackstrawculturalcenter, Northwest Folklife and 91.3 KBCS, more of us can find more music and arts related jobs and opportunities.

For example, I volunteer at KBCS, producing live in-studios where musicians locally, regionally and beyond, can get some much needed and highly valued airtime, expand awareness of their music, and grow their fan base. But does KBCS have any extra money to pay someone like me? No. They’re operating on a shoestring budget, just like the majority of the other arts organizations who rely heavily on volunteers to survive. Why not boost these organizations with a fraction of that #Amazon money and make these volunteer positions PAID positions?? More income opportunities for creatives = we can keep ourselves in the game.

How about offering Living Grants for artists/creative professionals to: get groceries, pay for recording, tour, etc?
How about subsidized creative professional credits to be used toward exorbitant rent?
How about offering affordable insurance for working creatives?

There are ways, Seattle, to show your community you value your creatives. So many ways.
People are leaving. Venues are closing down. Arts publications have had to close up shop. Music festivals are being canceled. It’s time to do something if you want to keep the arts alive in Seattle.

Tekla Waterfield
Seattle singer/songwriter/performing/recording artist


I find it sad that the hardworking crew members, sound creatives, musicians, composers, and more in the booming interactive development community in Seattle are ignored in these assessments. There are many avenues for us to create and work that don’t involve traditional ideas of linear media and music performances. The unions (looking at you IATSE 600 & 700, directly. At. You.) continue to ignore us and refuse to get involved in protecting our welfare. The city and county don’t see fit to consider our work worthy of grants and aid. We are a growing and active creative and artistic community that is completely ignored by the aging media traditionalists that prefer to label us derogatorily as “gamers”.

Maybe traditional musicians and filmmakers are leaving Seattle, but the next generation of innovative creators are here already and are pushing boundaries. Try looking at us instead of mourning what you think you’re missing.