Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Filmmaking in Seattle and Washington State

I would like to see more films shot in Seattle. We have a very artistic community (nothing to do when the weather is bad but play music and make art, right?). We have a reputable film festival and community and a lot of great art, film and music has come out of the Pacific NorthWest.

Pictured, DXC-D55L 2/3" EFP-Ready Camera Head

There have been some great films and TV made entirely, or in part made, in Seattle or Washington in general. Well, some films I really liked anyway, I don't want to get into any arguments about what makes a great film. You might be surprised at what films were filed in Washington, or at least parts of, or special F/X were, I'll offer some examples.

If you are thinking of shooting a film in Washington, I can say, we have just about every type of land form you could need, from Mountains, to lakes, to salt water, Ocean, caves, desert, even petrified forests.

Nearly everyone has some brush with a movie being made. I can't count how many times I've happened upon a film being shot, typically never even knowing what it was for. Some interesting bits where films shot in Washington and my family crossed paths:

Elvis in "It Happened at the World's Fair"

  • I just missed Elvis at the Seattle World's Fair in 1962s "It Happened at the World's Fair", by time my family got to go the filming was done. 
  • I missed the filming of John Wayne's 1974 film, McQ at Ocean Shores; my family had been staying there and I had to leave Sunday night for Monday work. The rest of my family got to see much: My mother danced with the Duke, walked along and talked with Diana Muldaur, and watch Clu Gulager clowning around just having being riddled with bullets on the beach gun fight scene.
Robert Hays as Starman
  • I was on the set of the 1986 TV pilot for "Starman" for one full night, standing directly next to I believe Director Robert Chenault, seated next to the camera while they shot a night scene at the Seattle Center's Monorail terminal. Sadly, there were only stand in shots being done and I never got to meet Robert Hays. As they filmed, the rides in the "Fun Forest" had to be coordinated to be going, although there were no passengers. I started the night with them at top of Queen Anne Hill on the South West side.

Gleamed from the Washington State web site for film, here is a partial list of movies filmed in part or completely (as much as any film is filmed completely outside of Hollywood or another location outside of principle shooting) in Washington:
  • "Trouble in Mind" (AKA, "Rain City"), with Keith Carradine and Kris Kristopherson, a quirky, cool little film was shot in Seattle.
  • "Tugboat Annie" from the 1930s was shot in Seattle based on the life of Thea Foss of Tacoma, Washington. I used to watch the TV show (Canada 1957-61) when I was a little kid. Later years, no one believed me, they just said there was a movie made in 32, but now I know, there was indeed a TV show.
  • "Star Trek III" - (computerized generated backgrounds produced by Seattle company - Stray Frames)
  • "Barefoot in the Park" a TV version in 1981 of the famous Robert Redford film.
  • 1982s "Frances" - The true story of Frances Farmer's meteoric rise to fame in Hollywood and the tragic turn her life took when she was blacklisted. My mother got a job at Western State Mental Hospital when she was 17, lying about her age. One of her patients was Francis Farmer.
  •  1980s "The Changling" with George C. Scott.
  • "An Officer and a Gentleman"
  • "War Games" with Matthew Broderick.
  • "Cinderella Liberty" with James Caan.
  • "Bustin' Loose" with Richard Pryor.
  • "House of Games" by David Mamet, one of my favorite screen/playwriters.
  • "Harry and the Hendersons" with a cute movie with John Lithgow.
  • "Say Anything" a favorite of my ex wife, and John Cusak always a favorite of mine, by Cameron Crowe.
  • "The Fabulous Baker Boys" with the Bridges brothers, Beau and Jeff, and Michelle Pfeiffer.
  • "Fire Walk With Me" by David Lynch of his "Twin Peaks" TV show fame (see below).
  • "Sleepless in Seattle" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, by Nora Ephram.
  • "The Vanishing" with Jeff Bridges.
  • "Little Buddha" with Keanu Reeves.
  • "Disclosure" with Michael Douglas and Demi Moore.
  • Assassins with Sylvestor Stallone and Antonio Banderas.
  • "Slaves to the Underground".
  • "Countdown".
  • "Get Carter".
  • "Inheritance".
  • "I love you to death" with River Phoenix and Kevin Kline, Tracey Ullman and William Hurt.
  • "The Ring 2".
  • "The Last Mimzy".
  • "Into the Wild".
  • "88 Minutes".
  • "Battle in Seattle".
  • "Burn After Reading".
And many other as well as the TV shows:
  • "Twin Peaks" Exteriors were primarily filmed in Snoqualmie and North Bend, with additional exteriors shot in southern California. Most of the interior scenes were shot on standing sets in a San Fernando Valley warehouse.
  • "Northern Exposure" Although the town of Cicely is widely thought to be patterned after the real town of Talkeetna, Alaska, the main street of Cicely and the filming location was actually that of Roslyn, Washington. Northern Exposure II (The main production facility) was located in Redmond, Washington in what is now the headquarters of Genie Industries, behind a business park. The barbed wire fence around it still exists.
  • "Dark Angel" Okay, maybe not, but I liked this one. The program is set in Seattle, Washington, and was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, at Lions Gate Studios.
  • "Millennium" Okay, yet another one. The series was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, though most episodes were ostensibly set in or around Seattle, Washington. Theme music for the show was composed by Mark Snow, who also created the distinctive theme music for The X-Files.
  • "Frasier"
  • "Gray's Anatomy"
  • "MTVs Real World" down on the piers in a reconverted warehouse condo on the dock.
  • "Starman"
  • "Almost Live!" a show that went national and was shown before Saturday Night Life for a while and whom the current TV show "Community" and "The Soup" star Joel McHale hailed from.
  • "Here Come the Brides"
  • "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Scott Bakula and Maria Bello.
  • "Night Stalker" a remake of the previous 1974 series,"Kolchak: The Night Stalker" with Darrin McGavin.

Here are some informational and links in case you want to make a film in Washington State.

Washington Filmworks funding assistance application

Seattle Film Festivals

Washington State Film Liaison links

Fims made in Seattle

Washington State Film incentives

Seattle Film incentives

A few more reasons why filming in Washington makes sense (and dollars)

Incentive Downloads
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