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Brad Wilke on Digital Strategy for Content Creators

By Brad Wilke

As an independent content creator (or filmmaker, if you’re old school), it’s imperative that you own your audience. Gone are the days when you can rely on a distributor, film festival, or aggregator to do the work of building awareness, selling tickets, or getting people to care about what you made.

And that’s the good news.

With the tools and resources available today, there’s never been a better time to launch a career as an independent filmmaker. It could be as easy as picking up your phone, grabbing a few friends, and spending a weekend shooting a feature film. You could also take the time to develop the script, plan the shoot, and rehearse the actors beforehand in hopes of making something that stands out from the crowd. And it’s the same with your digital strategy.

Most filmmakers don’t launch their film’s digital strategy until they begin to prep for their festival premiere, which is much too late for it to have any real impact. Savvy filmmakers get started in pre-production, and their strategy includes objectives and key metrics that connect their engagement efforts with their overall goals for both the film as well as their burgeoning filmmaking careers.

Your objectives should include words like “increase,” “establish,” and “engage,” and your key metrics should focus on rates, not raw numbers. For instance, engagement rate trumps post “likes,” and audience growth rate is a better indicator of success than total page likes.

There’s a big difference between community management (which typically includes updating channels and responding to comments) and digital strategy, which connects your community management tactics with your overall film (and career) goals. One without the other can only get you so far; you need both to be successful.

Of course, something is better than nothing, but if you’re willing to take the time to build an audience via a value-added digital strategy that not only promotes your film, but participates in the broader #indiefilm conversations, you’ll find, over time, that you’ve created a sustainable audience base from which to launch new projects, monetize finished ones, and support the work of fellow filmmakers.


Brad Wilke headshotAbout Brad Wilke:
Brad Wilke (@jbwilke) is an award-winning filmmaker, produced feature-length screenwriter, and film programmer for the Seattle International Film Festival. Brad holds an MBA from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, as well as a Master of Communication in Digital Media from the UW.

About Smarthouse Creative:
Smarthouse Creative is a full-service publicity and digital strategy agency that works with independent content creators (and organizations that support them) to amplify and promote good work to appreciative and engaged audiences. Team Smarthouse is Ryan Davis, Jessica Marx, and Brad Wilke.

Last Day to Submit Your Innovation Lab App!


It’s your last day to submit an application to the Filmworks Innovation Lab!

This program offers funding assistance as a return on qualified in-state expenditures on the production of motion picture content (including labor and talent that reside in Washington State). Projects must spend between $25,000 – $499,999 in Washington and must be 50% funded to apply. 75% of the budget must be spent in Washington State and 75% of production days must take place in Washington State. 85% of the workforce must be Washington residents as well.

Please remember to review the Guidelines & Criteria for the full selection criteria. The PowerPoint presentation is another good tool to use when completing your application. Any questions can be directed to, or you can call the Washington Filmworks office. Please note, if you didn’t attend one of the Innovation Lab Application meetings in Seattle, Spokane, or Bellingham, you need to schedule a call with our staff.

Good luck!

August Happy Hour: Pulling Focus Returns

Tomorrow’s August Film + Music + Interactive Happy Hour will celebrate the return of the popular Pulling Focus series. Come mix and mingle with the film industry professionals behind the Pulling Focus series at the August 27 Happy Hour.  Pulling Focus is produced by Washington Filmworks and hosted by Northwest Film Forum and the Seattle International Film Festival. The events are also presented in partnership with the Seattle Office of Film + Music, Seattle Film Institute, and Women In Film.

Mark your calendars for August 27 from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm at Spitfire (2219 4th Avenue, Seattle).

Pulling Focus is a series in Seattle and Spokane that focuses on the business of film. These panel discussions, moderated by Warren Etheredge, Host of Reel NW and Editor-At-Large of Media Inc., are designed to speak to a diverse audience, from screenwriters to actors, from directors to producers and on to musicians. The goal is to elevate the conversation and design a dialogue that will have a little something for everyone and will help give our community a rock-solid education about how to make the passion for film into a career. Guests are encouraged to continue the conversation at a cocktail reception after the panel discussion.

The first event will be held in Seattle during the Northwest Film Forum ‘s ever-popular Local Sightings Film Festival on Wednesday, October 1. Stay tuned for Spokane event dates, guests bios and ticket info.

Innovation Lab Now Accepting Applications!

Filmmakers, now’s the time! Submit your Innovation Lab applications now through August 28 for your chance to receive funding assistance for your production. You’ll want to be sure to read the Guidelines & Criteria and review the PowerPoint slides from the mandatory application meetings before submitting.


The Filmworks Innovation Lab offers funding assistance as a return on qualified in-state expenditures on the production of motion picture content (including labor and talent who are Washington State residents). Projects must spend between $25,000 – $499,999 in Washington.

If you have questions, please contact staff at (206) 264-0667 or email

Washington State Labor Council Votes for Continued Support of WF

On July 24, the Washington State Labor Council voted unanimously for continued support of Washington Filmworks at the 2014 Convention of the Washington State Labor Council.

Supporters of the resolution included SAG-AFTRA, IATSE Local 488 and Teamsters Local 174. Rik Deskin, who was the SAG-AFTRA delegate to the Labor Council Convention, amended the resolution from the floor right before it was voted up on the last day of the Convention, which ran from July 22-24 at the Wenatchee Convention Center.

According to the WSLC’s website, delegates representing the WSLC’s more than 500 affiliated labor organizations, with some 400,000 rank-and-file members, gathered to hear from distinguished labor, government and community leaders and to set the course for the state’s largest union organization in the coming year. See the 2014 WSLC Resolutions, as approved by convention delegates.

The full text of the resolution to continue support for Washington Filmworks can be seen below.

Continued Support For Washington Filmworks

Resolution #10

Submitted by IATSE 488 (Co-sponsored by SAG-AFTRA Seattle Local)

WHEREAS, Washington State continues to look to grow revenue and create jobs for Washington resident workers; and

WHEREAS, leaders of both the executive and legislative branches have indicated an intention to intensively review all government programs to determine their economic sustainability; and

WHEREAS, past experience has shown a glaring lack of public understanding of the Washington Filmworks program which supports the production of television, commercial and motion picture projects; and

WHEREAS, Washington Filmworks has attracted over 92 projects to the State that have had over $232 million of economic impact statewide; and

WHEREAS, Washington Filmworks’ projects have created thousands of union and family wage jobs that provide health and retirement benefits for the state’s actors, technical support workers, and production support businesses; and

WHEREAS, Washington Filmworks committed all $3.5M in available funds by May, 2014, and no longer has funds available to commit to deserving productions that provide employment of thousands of workers; and

WHEREAS, more than thirty-eight states currently provide similar and even greater financial support for film and video productions; and

WHEREAS, there is a rich body of evidence that proves the effectiveness of production incentives in the creation of non-polluting, well paid, sustainable work; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, support legislation ensuring that the State commit to funding Washington Filmworks at a level that increases the competitiveness of Washington State’s motion picture industry and ensures job creation and economic development opportunities across the state.


Why You Should #FilminWA

You may have noticed posts on your social media feeds containing the hashtag #FilminWA over the last couple of months. Wondering where that came from? Or what it’s all about? Well it can be traced back to Douglas Horn, a local filmmaker who wanted to create a visual record and a running conversation about the ongoing projects that are being filmed in Washington State. The simplest way to do so, Horn thought, was by using this hashtag on social media to encourage filmmakers, photographers, set designers, editors, and anyone else on a production to post about their in-state production on social media accounts, and thus, keep a running stream of the volume of work that is ongoing throughout Washington.

Horn was inspired by social media campaigns like #crewtopia and #setlife when he conceived of this social media campaign. We wanted to know more about why this is important to Horn and to the filmmaking community at large and what Horn hopes to see emerge from these efforts. We spoke with Douglas to find out just that. Read our exchange below.

Washington Filmworks: Why did you decide on this particular strategy for engaging the filmmaking community?
Douglas Horn: I talk with a lot of people in the industry, whether in working on my own productions, working as a director-for-hire, or just socializing with friends in the industry, and I recognized that there was a real desire to develop more of an identity amongst ourselves as people who work in this industry here in Washington State. There are some grassroots hashtags that people often use, such as #setlife and #crewtopia to show images from film sets. I wanted to create something as simple and fun but that was Washington-specific and also encompassed more of the filmmaking experience than just what happens on set—since writers, editors, composers, and a lot of other crucial contributors tend to get left out.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 10.50.18 AM

WF: Why did you choose to launch this effort now?
DH: It was the combination of a few different events. Early in the year there was some hubbub in the Seattle film community. I think it became apparent that we hadn’t done a great job at making our industry visible and vocal. We mobilized briefly and gained some recognition. Since then people have been eager to stay more engaged. A few months later, Washington Filmworks announced that it exhausted its annual incentive allotment with just two projects—and had to turn away several other projects that had intended to film here. While it is great to get bigger projects filming in the state, I think that the sudden recognition that our incentive cap could be reached so easily made people in the entire industry here experience that same recognition that the Seattle community had earlier in the year. It’s becoming more apparent that we will need to coalesce as an industry in this state to make our case about what we need to continue to grow, flourish, and expand the economic activity that we bring in. So, while the #FilminWA campaign is very simple, it gives us the chance to start to bond as a statewide industry and show some of our breadth and depth.

WF: What are the primary goals of the engagement plan?
DH: Well this is a pretty simple social media campaign, so I don’t want to overburden it with expectations. If #FilminWA gives people a way to show what they do in this industry, to stay engaged, and to help people making films, commercials, and television shows across the state—whether in Seattle, Spokane, Bellingham, the Tri-Cities or wherever—all feel a little more united as a community and industry, then I would count it as a big success.

WF: Do you anticipate or hope this will inspire anything else?
DH: Down the road, I hope that #FilminWA will yield a sizable number of great photos and tweets that we might use to help persuade and educate legislators and others about what we really do in a way that numbers alone may not. There are some persuasive statistics and studies showing why the WF incentive cap should be increased, for example, but we are a visual industry and we should also be prepared to make our case visually. Some great photos from the #FilminWA campaign could give us another way to make our case.

WF: What else should people know?
DH: This is a very simple campaign. The idea is just to post social media messages and photos using the #FilminWA hashtag. It’s meant to be a fun way to engage with others in the community that takes almost no time or effort. Pictures from film sets are fantastic, but I’d also like to see all the other elements of the industry as well. This summer is a great time to start while productions are busy. If you also follow @FilminWA on Twitter, you can automatically see many of the other great photos and tweets from others using the #FilminWA hashtag.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 10.44.37 AM

About Douglas Horn:
Douglas Horn is a director, writer, and producer for film, television, and commercial projects. He directed and wrote the feature film Entry Level (D.B. Sweeney, Missi Pyle) and the independent series Divergence. He also wrote the original script for Switchmas (originally Ira Finkelstein’s Christmas) which was made in Washington State. He writes about filmmaking and distribution on his blog

Commercialize Seattle Goes to SIFF

New Latest Work

Congratulations to World Famous, 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.

World Famous

Agency or Production Company: World Famous

Explain yourself, World Famous: Our passion is creating stories. Using visual media, sound design and narrative voice, we build lasting kinship between brands and fans. Tony Fulgham and Alan Nay have plumbed the depths of Seattle’s vibrant creative community and rounded up a frisky gang of hyper-talented directors, designers, musicians, artists, dreamers and doers. Our staff of 15 is nimble, inventive and tireless, staying up to date on developing trends and technologies while offering the personal service clients expect.


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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