Hooray for James Sturm...

...author of The Golem's Mighty Swing. In Time magazine's Best and Worst of 2001, Golem, a graphic novel that combines Jewish legend and baseball, was named Best Comic, beating out the likes of Charles Schultz and Art Spiegelman. Sturm was The Stranger's first art director, and set the precedent for our classy art-on-the-cover style. (I am applauding!) When we ran an image from Golem on the cover this past July, we were inundated with letters from people who thought we were being anti-Semitic because we showed baseball players wearing Stars of David; obviously, none of them had read the book. EMILY HALL

Farewell, Film Office

On December 18, Governor Gary Locke proposed a 2002 supplemental budget that will completely eliminate the Washington State Film Office. This office promotes film production in the state by helping film companies find locations; providing contacts for local crews, casting agencies, and accommodations; and acting as a liaison with other government agencies whose cooperation is required for filming (the Department of Transportation, Parks and Recreation, State Patrol, etc.). While it's hard to argue that film production is more important than, say, education--which also takes some nasty hits in the proposed budget, though Locke trumpets that education remains his "highest priority"--the State Film Office actually makes money. Budgeted at $374,000 a year (one of the lowest budgets for film offices in the country), the film office helped bring in over $50 million in production spending over the last year. According to the office, over the last 10 years it has returned over $100 for each dollar invested. Losing the film office will affect not only technicians and local actors, but also truck drivers, caterers, hotels, and service industries across the board.

"The governor is in an unenviable position," says Sharon Wallace, communications director for the Office of Trade and Economic Development. "I don't know the exact particulars behind the decision-making process, but I know they're looking for efficiencies and ways to streamline the budget. I empathize with his position--however, the film office is profitable for the state."

While local independent filmmakers may not feel much connection to this office, which focuses its efforts on bringing in film production from out of state, the office did recently meet with local filmmakers and has been considering ways to support them; ideas under consideration include putting local work on the state office website, and encouraging local funding sources to invest more in local film (a nebulous but worthy endeavor). More significantly, many of the people who work in local film get work from out-of-town production--and while local artists and technicians complain that they don't get enough work, the little they get does help them live and further their craft.

At a time when film companies are already increasingly turning to Canada (where the landscape is largely the same but the exchange rate reduces costs), the loss of the film office will only further discourage film production in Washington.

If you want to speak out in support of the film office, contact Gary Locke:

Governor Gary Locke

Office of the Governor

P.O. Box 40002

Olympia, WA 98504-0002

Telephone: (360) 902-4111

Fax: (360) 753-4110


For more information about the Washington State Film Office, go to www.oted.wa.gov, the website for the Office of Trade and Economic Development. BRET FETZER