WSFO and WashingtonFilmWorks

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The Washington State Film Office duties may be absorbed into WashingtonFilmWorks, a two year old non-profit, and I think it’s a fine idea. The State Film Office has had its hands tied for years, and been unable to effectively push for more production in Washington State. WFW is in a better position to move quickly to support production, and would provide a clear point of entry for out of state films and those wanting to take advantage of the incentive. It’s too early to lobby CTED (the State Film Office’s boss) but that time will come.

Here is the Memo from the State, City and WFW:

January 8, 2008

MEMO

To: Seattle Film Advisory Committee

From: James Keblas, Director, Seattle Office of Film + Music; Amy Lillard Dee, Director, WashingtonFilmWorks; Suzy Kellett, Manager, Washington State Film Office

Re: Recommendation regarding the future of the Washington State Film Office

The leaders of the offices listed above have recently engaged a strategic planning process to better define effective ways to work together in delivering services to those involved in the various aspects of the growing film industry in Washington. In this time, Suzy Kellett, who has been the Director of the Washington State Film Office for the last decade announced her intention to leave the position. The three of us decided to use this planning process to explore an innovative response to this change.

After careful consideration and discussion we have a recommendation regarding the future of the Washington State Film Office that we believe will strengthen our sector and the future of film in Washington. We offer it here for further development by all interested parties and we look forward to providing leadership in working towards the best possible solution for all.

We recommend that the Washington State Film Office and WashingtonFilmWorks merge to become a single office known as WashingtonFilmWorks.

This recommendation reflects our careful analysis of the pros and cons of separate or merged offices. While we acknowledge that such a merger presents challenges, it is our belief that a merged office will create a stronger and more efficient resource for the film sector in our state as well as for visiting filmmakers shooting productions in Washington.

We envision combined functions that can strengthen the sector through:
– A single voice in marketing and communication to enhance the climate for the film industry in our state.
– A more powerful and integrated support network for industry players.
– More unified planning and advocacy to increase effective growth.
– Improved educational and professional development opportunities for emerging and established film makers, actors, crew and film service providers.
– An efficient operational structure that reduces duplication and confusion.

These merged functions must be balanced with two primary programs which we believe are critical to maintain and grow the film industry statewide. These two programs are:
1. Location and Production Resource Center. This program provides essential preproduction services to ALL film work in the state, serving both those projects that have received incentives and those that have not. It serves as the foundational touchstone for linking all aspects of the sector as well as communities throughout the state. These services have been provided through the Film Office.
2. Incentive Program. This program provides funding assistance for selected film projects and is a key component in ensuring the health of the film industry in the state. There are opportunities to further enhance services to these clients.

We believe that funding support for a merged office could be built on the following:
– Tax credits and interest, currently the mainstay of WashingtonFilmWorks’ budget as defined by statute.
– Washington State General Revenue Funds via a State contract, continuing funding currently allocated to the Washington State Film Office.
– Private sector support including membership fees and philanthropic contributions by corporate, individual and foundation donors.

There are certainly issues to be further examined and significant questions to be answered. A key question is the correct legal structure for such a merger and an examination of the best method for merging public and private roles.

This memo has been shared with the WashingtonFilmWorks Executive Committee and the leadership in the Washington State office of Community Trade and Economic Development (CTED).

We invite you to share this memo with others you feel would be interested.

We present this recommendation to you confident that we all share a commitment to a successful future for film in our state. We strongly believe that the approach outlined here is a positive step in building a competitive and creative sector. We look forward to exploring next steps together.

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