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Local Sightings at Northwest Film Forum is Back!


Returning tonight is the Local Sightings Film Festival, hosted every year by the Northwest Film Forum (NWFF) in Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Local Sightings gathers together and showcases new films from talents all over the Northwest (from Alaska to Oregon) for audiences, allowing them to experience the wonder of homegrown and emerging artists. NWFF Program Director Courtney Sheehan has worked hard to produce this year’s festival, which includes a number of screenings from the region’s most distinct artists. In addition, Sheehan has assembled artist talks, performances, networking events, and parties for this year’s festival, as well as the expanded and week-long Seattle Film Summit with panels on topics ranging from filming all across the West Coast to the strategy of the Washington Film Political Action Committee (PAC).

Even with so much excitement and activity going on, Sheehan kindly took the time to sit down with Washington Filmworks and discuss Local Sightings 2014’s lineup, events, and conferences.

Washington Filmworks: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat about Local Sightings 2014. This is the 17th year of Local Sightings – what does that mean for the Northwest Film Forum and the filmmaking community of the Northwest? 

Courtney Sheehan: Seventeen years ago, NWFF was known as Wiggly World –  a group of filmmakers who ran the Grand Illusion and supported local film production in whatever ways they could. The internet had not yet radicalized how people make and watch movies, and films were still shot and shown on film. Ten years ago, 16 of the films in Local Sightings were projected on 16mm film! The program for this year’s festival reflects what has changed and what has stayed the same both for Northwest filmmakers and at NWFF. While very few movies today are shot on film, more movies are being made – this year we’re showing twice as many feature films as we did ten years ago. NWFF remains a hub for community gatherings, but the content of conversation has transformed. This year’s Seattle Film Summit includes topics on the gaming industry, DIY distribution and publicity strategies for the startup era. This is also the first year Local Sightings includes a program and discussion on interactive and multi-platform work. Boundaries between media forms are blurring, opening up new opportunities for filmmakers in other fields – and new ways for organizations like NWFF to support independent film and media makers.

WF: In addition to the screenings, what exciting talks and panels can audiences anticipate this year? 

CS: The opening night puts the emphasis on the people that make up this community by introducing the filmmakers before we screen their films. Attendees will get to hear from director and producer of Bella Vista, the opening film, before it screens the following night. Speakers from the Seattle Film Summit will give a glimpse of what’s in store during their panel discussions. Director, teacher, and choreographer Dayna Hanson will share highlights from the dance film class she’s teaching this season. Then, DJ Sharlese Metcalf from KEXP’s Audioasis will be spinning on the staircase in the lobby, and the new local brewery Outer Planet will make sure everyone’s thirst is slaked.

We are also hosting a free education open house and showcase of student work recently made in classes at NWFF. People can come and talk to instructors about their upcoming classes, and even sign up on the spot. There’s also a fantastic workshop being offered during the festival with Caryn Cline. Students will learn the ‘botanicollage’ technique used by filmmakers like Stan Brakhage, which entails creating handmade film frames using local botanicals – another fun local connection. The final product from that workshop will be screened the next day alongside a program of other experimental work, including Brakhage’s – and multiple films will be shown on 16mm.

Before the closing film and party, folks can gather for a Town Hall discussion hosted by the Seattle Film Industry Caucus. It’s a great opportunity for filmmakers to recap everything that was seen and discussed during the Seattle Film Summit and festival, and to let us know how we can best support their work. Then our last big party is right around the corner at Vermillion. Vermillion owner Diana Adams’s commitment to supporting local artists has truly set the standard on Capitol Hill. Naturally, her spot is one of the last bastions of bonafide cool in the Pike/Pine corridor.

WF: What are the largest benefits of hosting this festival every year – what impact does it have on the film culture of Washington, specifically? 

CS: I recently looked back at the festival lineup from ten years ago and noticed many familiar names: Megan Griffiths, Drew Christie, Lynn Shelton, Web Crowell, Bret Fetzer. As a platform for discovery, Local Sightings actively cultivates new film culture. You can look at the programs from year to year and track the development of new filmmaking voices in the region.

Here’s a story that quite directly illustrates the impacts the role that the fest has on the production of new work in WA state. Two years ago at Local Sightings, Brian Perkins won best short for his film The Heavens. He began developing a feature and when he needed a leading man, former program director Adam Sekuler connected him with Zach Weintraub (Local Sightings was the first festival in the US to screen Weintraub’s films). Together they made a feature that is premiering in Local Sightings this year.

Another example – local filmmaker Zeek Earl was on this year’s Filmmaker Magazine list of 25 New Faces of Independent Film. I met him at a party in his honor, where he told me he used to be a Local Sightings intern! Now we’re the Seattle premiere of his latest short, Prospect.

And it’s about more than discovering individual voices. It’s also about discovering opportunities for connection within and across communities. As the only festival in Seattle dedicated entirely to local and regional film, Local Sightings is the meeting grounds for film artists and professionals to connect with their neighbors – from across I-5, and even across state and national borders. Ideally, a screenwriter learns about a new area of opportunity in the city’s thriving gaming industry. A director-writer-producer-editor at a crossroads gains some insight from hearing Megan Griffiths and Tony Fulgham share their take and experiences with balancing artistic practice with commercial work (an idea that will be explored in-depth on a panel in the Film Summit). An audience member’s heart is moved or her mind is bent or her worldview is broadened. It all starts with coming to the movie theater to discover a new film, a new experience, a new friend.

WF: Are there any exciting Washington-based filmmakers emerging this year? 

CS: Kara Schoonmaker and Anna Conser’s 30-minute Maureen is a pure surrealist magic, with exquisite set design.  Andrew Finnigan’s debut Koinonia creates an effective dystopian atmosphere with a tiny budget – it’s a true accomplishment. High schooler Abbey Sacks is definitely one to watch – her short Connie shows a grace few filmmakers strike upon so young. Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell are on Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and their work has been strongly supported by SXSW. Arts scene fixture Greg Lundgren has made his first film, a one-take feature carried wonderfully by the performance of one non-actor.

WF: Finally, this year’s fest is going on in conjunction with the Seattle Film Summit – what can the filmmaking community expect from combination? 

CS: Each edition of the Seattle Film Summit has been held at NWFF as a partnership during Local Sightings, and this year we have deepened and expanded upon that collaboration. In addition to the main day of the Summit on Saturday the 27th, panels will be hosted throughout the festival. We have an all-star lineup of speakers and we can’t wait to unleash their expertise. We have reached farther into area media companies to bring in professionals from the design, tech, and gaming industries so filmmakers can get an even wider shot glimpse of developments in the creative industries.

We are extremely grateful to Courtney Sheehan for taking the time to share some incredible information and insight into Local Sightings 2014. The festival runs September 25th – October 4th at the Northwest Film Forum, and more information on the 10 day event is available on the festival’s website.

csheehan-199x300About Courtney Sheehan, Northwest Film Forum Program Director: Courtney Sheehan is program director for Northwest Film Forum. She has curated film programs and produced events for theaters and festivals on three continents. On a year-long Watson Fellowship, Courtney investigated the organizational structures, community roles, and programming strategies of twenty film festivals and media centers in India, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia. As a journalist, Courtney has covered film events ranging from the world’s largest documentary festival (IDFA in Amsterdam) to South America’s largest animation festival (Anima Mundi in Rio de Janeiro) and her publications include Bitch Magazine, Senses of Cinema, The Independent, and NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies.

Pulling Focus Seattle, October 1st: The Brave New World of Content and Commercials

Paul Matthaeus (Digital Kitchen, Chairman and Founder), Laura Johannsen (Wong Doody, Creative Manager), and Norma Jean Straw (B47 Studios, Director of Content Development) lead the panel and guide us all into this fresh and shifting world.

Wednesday October 1st marks the return of Pulling Focus in Seattle, an exciting and informative series exploring the business of film. This particular event, set to take place during the 17th annual Local Sightings Film Festival at the the Northwest Film Forum, is an insightful look into the changing world of commercial production and their clients.

Panel Description:
We used to take commercials for granted. Fifteen to thirty seconds, pushing a product with minimal dialogue and lots of visuals  it was common, normal, and routine. But here we are, in 2014, and commercials are breaking boundaries. Clients are changing their needs, and so are consumers. Welcome to the world of redesign and branded entertainment, we will help you speak its language. Join us for a panel exploring content-marketing and how businesses are joining up with production companies and agencies to engage consumers through fresh, bold, and sexy ways of storytelling. You’ll hear from fascinating professionals on what client demands entail, why Commercialize Seattle is leading the charge, and how large businesses, local crews, and everyday consumers are affected.

The panel will be moderated by Warren Etheredge, host of “Reel NW” and Editor-At-Large of Media, Inc. 

We encourage guests to continue the conversation after the panel at a cocktail reception hosted on site.

Tickets are available at

They are $15, or $10 if you are a member of or affiliated with any of the organizations listed below.

This edition of Pulling Focus is hosted by:




This panel in partnership with:

Office of Film + Music.jpg




It is produced by:






Mark your calendars for Wednesday, October 1st, to receive first-hand insight and expertise from the industry’s finest on this fascinating new world of content and commercials.

Commercialize Seattle Hits the Weights

New Latest Work

Congratulations to Mike Folden Productions, a production company based in Seattle. They are now featured in the Latest Work section of Commercialize Seattle. This business development campaign is designed to drive production and advertising to the region and the Latest Work section of the Commercialize Seattle website showcases some of the very best commercial work coming out of Seattle and Washington State.

Mike Folden Productions

Agency or Production Company: Mike Folden Productions
Commercial: Who I Was
Company Website:

Explain yourself, Mike Folden Productions: I think of what I do as creative consulting. Ultimately, people come to me with a problem and I help them figure out how to solve it using creativity. The product happens to be video but often I see stories that the client doesn’t even know exist within their own organization. I help bring out those stories and bring them to life.

Why Should You Submit New Work?

When we’re out selling the region as one of the best places in the world to make commercials, we point people to the Latest Work section on the Commercialize Seattle website to show them what we can do here! The campaign highlights locally made commercials and is a hub where brands and agencies look to find great talent. Local production companies and ad agencies should register and learn more.

We frequently showcase new work, so get registered and submit. Then we can show you off to the world. Remember, advertising is the best thing any of us can do!








Announcing the Innovation Lab Results


Contact: Andrew Espe / 206.264.0667  

Washington Filmworks Announces Funding Assistance Recipients 

For 2014 Innovation Lab

 Program designed to support Washington filmmakers using new forms of production and emerging technologies

Seattle, WA – September 23, 2014 – Washington Filmworks is pleased to announce the recipients of funding assistance from the third cycle of the Filmworks Innovation Lab. The program, which is part of a long term economic development strategy, invests in the future of film by capitalizing on Washington’s creative community and artists while encouraging original storytelling that uses new forms of production and technology. Following a “Pitch Session” of the program in which finalists presented new business and revenue models that leverage Washington’s film infrastructure in the digital era, the jury made their official recommendations and the Board has approved their decisions. Washington Filmworks is pleased to announce that $75,000 has been allocated to three exceptional projects.

The following is a list of projects that have been approved for funding assistance and the teams associated with each production. Also included are a brief synopsis and jury statement for each project:


This Brute Land Virginia – Neil Ferron (Writer/Director) and Ali el-Gasseir (Producer)

Synopsis: This Brute Land Virginia is a genre-blending short film set in a 17th-century pilgrim colony. An erotic thriller, a period piece, and a sci-fi-horror film, this short film fuses the elegance and tension of these genres into an original and engaging story. The short will be the flagship project of a larger franchise of art projects and digital content that includes work connected to the original story (such as a smartphone game) as well as content that moves beyond the film (minimalist fashion accessories, a comic series, and other forms of visual art).

Jury Comments: “Director Neil Ferron and Producer Ali el-Gasseir are part of an emerging collaborative art movement that characterizes the creative essence of Seattle. All of the artists working on the short film This Brute Land Virginia bring a wealth of experience in their own discipline into a new constellation, each of them representing a key element of great cinema. Their version of history is mutated and allows the audience to explore a universal story through an irreverent, queer point of view, all done with a pilgrim minimalist aesthetic.”


Wallflower – Jagger Gravning (Writer/Director) and John W. Comerford (Producer)

Synopsis: Wallflower is a harrowing drama based on actual events. The film tracks the journey of young people pursuing catharsis and joy confronted by a force of evil who has been invited into their midst. The story unfolds through a survivor coming to terms with her life in the wake of tragedy. Wallflower is a feature-length film that will tie into a non-fiction book written by Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Richard Adler and a documentary web series on the roots of America’s ongoing rampage-shootings.

Jury Comments: “With a script based on the true story of the 2006 Capitol Hill Massacre, the written support of a survivor for the feature film Wallflower is just one reason to tell this compelling story. First time Filmmaker Jagger Gravning has assembled a strong team of producers including John W. Comerford and Robinson Devor, both of whom are industry veterans who provide a solid foundation for success. The compelling visual style of Cinematographer Joriah Goad will undoubtedly bring a lush, visual artistry to the production.”


War Room – Peter Adkison (Director/Executive Producer) and Kim Voynar (Producer/Art Director)

Synopsis: War Room is a short film set in Chaldea, a unique fantasy world that borrows heavily on real-world mythology and history. Legatus Reiswitz Gustavus, commander of an Imperial Legion, seeks out the help of a toy maker to create exquisite toy soldiers for use in war games designed to train officers and save lives in a bloody world conflict that looms on the horizon. The Chaldea series will tell an epic fantasy story in multiple platforms (including digital graphic novels) with its tableau of memorable characters, dramatic through-lines, and high fantasy.

Jury Statement: “A short film that intersects seamlessly with a digital graphic novel, War Room will treat audiences to a fantasy world filled with dragons, orcs, swordsmen and powerful female knights. Executive Producer and Director Peter Adkison brings a strong business plan and years of industry experience and success in gaming to this project. With universal themes that touch on loyalty, friendship, truth and consequences, fans can look forward to many years of storytelling from this dedicated and passionate team. This piece serves as the introduction to a grander vision to be produced on a digital platform that will appeal to the geek in all of us.”


Washington Filmworks worked with a dedicated jury to evaluate projects and select funding assistance recipients from a pool of applicants. The jury is comprised of industry experts, representing all aspects of motion picture production, multi-platform storytelling, and emerging entertainment models. Final decisions were based on the merits of each project and its investment in Washington State, and each finalist pushed the boundaries of motion picture production and proposed creative revenue models and multi-platform options. Washington Filmworks is especially grateful for the dedication and guidance of our jury.

“We are passionate about this program because it represents the future of filmmaking in Washington State,” said Amy Lillard, Executive Director of Washington Filmworks. “These three projects are exciting and captivating, full of stunning originality and integrity. They think outside of the box with fascinating multi-platform variety and lead the digital revolution in the entertainment industry. Utilizing and applying exciting business models and technological advancements, these three projects are economically stimulating and assert film as the cornerstone of Washington’s Creative Economy.”


About the Innovation Lab: The Filmworks Innovation Lab is designed to invest in our local creative community and to encourage the development of original storytelling that capitalizes on new forms of production and technology. By leveraging our existing film infrastructure and the diversity of our in-state technology resources, Washington is uniquely positioned to incubate a groundbreaking digital entertainment platform that fosters a new Creative Economy for Washington State. More information on the Innovation Lab here.

About Washington Filmworks: Washington Filmworks’ is the non-profit 501 (c)(6) organization that manages the state film office and production incentive programs. Our mission is to create economic development opportunities by building and enhancing the competitiveness, profile and sustainability of Washington’s film industry. We do this by creating possibilities for local and national filmmakers and offering comprehensive production support as well as financial incentives.


NFFTY Now Accepting Submissions for 2015 Festival!


Approaching its ninth annual festival, NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth) is now accepting submissions for its upcoming 2015 festival!

Todd Kaumans, the festival’s Program Manager, recounts how NFFTY 2014 attendance was over 12,000 (in four days!) and featured 214 films representing 30 states and 15 countries. This year, the festival anticipates 1,000+ submissions from young filmmakers from all over the world.

The deadlines for submissions are as followed:

  • Early Deadline – October 31
  • Mid Deadline – December 1
  • Regular Deadline – January 5
  • Late Deadline – January 26

It’s also worth reporting that NFFTY not only displays amazing talent, but produces it as well – NFFTY Creative is the organization’s original content production arm that makes material for brand name clients and sponsors. In return, NFFTY alumni are given the opportunity to work on these larger paid projects and make significant connections. Any filmmaker selected for NFFTY ’15 will be in consideration for these exciting projects.

Read more about NFFTY’s upcoming 2015 festival in their press release, including their tackling of gender inequality in the industry.

NFFTY runs from April 23-26, 2015 in Seattle if you want to check out the young and emerging voices of the filmmaking community!

You can submit an entry online via FilmFreeway and get more information regarding submissions here.

For more information, follow NFFTY on Facebook and Twitter!

Celebrate the Premiere of Series Z NATION with a Glimpse of its Local Cast

Photo courtesy of Oliver Irwin

Photo courtesy of Oliver Irwin

Z Nation, a project incentivized and supported by Washington Filmworks (WF), is set to premiere on the Syfy Channel tonight at 10/9c. The zombie-thriller series has garnered national buzz and quite a bit of local interest, given the project’s funding assistance by WF and its summer shoot in Spokane. In anticipation of its premiere, George Riddell over at Media Inc. has an article featured about the assemblage of its cast – although the show includes Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do!) and Harold Perrineau (Zero Dark Thirty, Lost), it also stars a trio of Washington-based actors in lead roles. Pisay Pao, Nat Zang, and Russell Hodgkinson are the series regulars representing the Evergreen State. Take a look at Riddell’s piece to become familiar with these local actors and see how Washington continues to breed some serious onscreen talent.

Also, here’s a peak at the filmed-in-WA sci-fi series:

Commercialize Seattle Goes for a Drive

New Latest Work

Congratulations to Kontent Partners, a production company based in Seattle. They are now featured in the Latest Work section of Commercialize Seattle. This business development campaign is designed to drive production and advertising to the region and the Latest Work section of the Commercialize Seattle website showcases some of the very best commercial work coming out of Seattle and Washington State.

Kontent Partners

Agency or Production Company: Kontent Partners
Commercial: BMW + Graypants

Explain yourself, Kontent Partners: Rooted in our passion for design, we are storytellers driven to craft compelling brand stories and memorable experiences for our clients. We focus on creative concepts and creative direction, film and photography production, and integrated campaigns (shoots that require creative, still photography and post).

Why Should You Submit New Work?

When we’re out selling the region as one of the best places in the world to make commercials, we point people to the Latest Work section on the Commercialize Seattle website to show them what we can do here! The campaign highlights locally made commercials and is a hub where brands and agencies look to find great talent. Local production companies and ad agencies should register and learn more.

We frequently showcase new work, so get registered and submit. Then we can show you off to the world. Remember, advertising is the best thing any of us can do!







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