Last Friday Washington Filmworks (WF) held what will now be the third installment of a new recurring event we like to call “Coffee Talk.” Coffee Talk is an informal chat between WF staff and local film industry professionals and arts organizations held on the last Friday of each month. The intention is to sit down with our local affiliates to better understand what it is they do, how our work and missions intersect, and what we can do to support like-minded projects moving forward.
Last week, we met with David Falcon Ayala, Molly Michal, and Courtney Sheehan from Northwest Film Forum. Not only were we impressed by the breadth of resources the Film Forum has to offer filmmakers and media makers alike, but we were equally excited to learn about their developing programs. Take a quick peek inside our Coffee Talk.
Amy Lillard of WF with David, Molly, and Courtney of Northwest Film Forum
What’s Happening at Northwest Film Forum
Whether or not you’re familiar with the regular programming and offerings from the Film Forum, they have some pretty interesting things in the works right now. They’ve started a new series about the convergence of the gaming and film industries called “Agents of Convergence” co-presented with local company Imagos Films. The first co-presenter of the series was transmedia guru Mark Long, creator of Radical Studios‘ hit comic series Shrapnel, publisher of the PC combat game Hawken and formerly of Meteor Entertainment and Zombie Studios. Northwest Film Forum is also partnering with the Seattle Polish Film Festival to launch a new series called “Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema,” which is a collection of Polish films all handpicked by Scorsese. Finally, the Film Forum tweaked their summer youth camp programs this year by adjusting to demand and doubling their offerings. And rightfully so, all classes sold out over a month earlier than they have before.
Who Does Northwest Film Forum Serve?
The connective tissue that binds all the goals that Northwest Film Forum seeks to achieve is the desire to deepen their members’ engagement in film. They are all about providing a home to explore curiosities about what film is, which ultimately makes the concept of “Cinema” more accessible.
While the Film Forum originally started as a production collective, they now find themselves constantly adapting to the incessant changes in the media-making world. While sitting around the coffee table, the Film Forum and WF both stressed the importance of learning to collaborate in the media world.
“We have to learn to work together as a creative community to make those integrations happen,” Executive Director of WF, Amy Lillard, said.
Northwest Film Forum’s membership numbers range between 600 – 1000 members at any given time. Many of those members consist of creative industry professionals and family audiences. They’re seeing significant growth in their family audiences, mostly due to their Children’s Film Festival. “It’s inspiring a different curiosity about the world,” Program Director Courtney Sheehan said. “More kids are wanting to learn how to make films and are getting to be much more hands-on about their learning.”
Youth class at the Film Forum. Photo credit: Margaret Schuler
What Northwest Film Forum Has to Offer
No matter what stage of the filmmaking (or media making) process you find yourself in, chances are, the Film Forum has a resource to match your needs and to help you reach the next level with your production. They offer education on everything from film criticism to production to financing to Digital Cinema Package (DCP). In fact, they’re able to accommodate the entire life cycle, start-to-finish, of a film in house.
As Marketing Manager and Development Associate Molly Michal said, “we want to be able to support artists no matter what medium they’re working with.”
Beyond physical classes, NWFF also has a fiscal sponsorship program, awarded competitively, which allows private film productions to extend the Film Forum’s nonprofit umbrella, making some grants available and extending tax benefits to individual donors.
Another interesting resource we learned about is the literal vault of 16mm reels that Northwest Film Forum has acquired from educational institutions and other benefactors. These are curated to present an occasional series of films from the vault.
Students at a Film Forums’ class. Photo credit: Elisa Huerta-Enochian
What’s Coming Next for Northwest Film Forum
As with any organization, the goals for the immediate future range from concrete to budding. They’ll be revamping their website to bring a cleaner look to the face of their online presence, including clarifying and detailing their resources for filmmakers, film students and film lovers.
David Falcon Ayala, Business and Systems Manager at the Film Forum, said he also has some infrastructure-based goals for the coming year. He’d love to see Northwest Film Forum explore creating a more interactive venue space that has expanded capacity for transmedia projects.
Most importantly, all three of our guests stressed that they want to firmly communicate to the community that the Film Forum can be a space for the creative community to host their workshops, demo products, hold meetings, hold castings. You name the stage of your project, Northwest Film Forum will be your stage for its completion. And it will move you on to the next.