Author Archive

New Filmmaking Equipment!

March 4, 2011

NWFF is proud to offer several new camera and audio packages! In the pursuit of supporting great artwork and great artists, NWFF has for a long time bridged the gap between the digital vs analog divide. To further that goal, we now offer an Aaton LTR Super 16mm camera and Canon EOS 60D DSLR camera among our rental equipment. The Aaton comes with a follow focus and Angenieux zoom lens, while the 60D package includes Canon’s “L” series 24-105 zoom lens, 5″ monitor and Beachtek audio mixer. We also have new audio recording equipment: a Sennheiser wireless lav mic package, and a Marantz handheld digital audio recorder.

We’ll be offering regular certification classes for the Canon 60D soon. For the Aaton camera, contact Studio Director, Dave Hanagan, about scheduling a hands-on tutorial. Or feel free to contact Dave with any questions or to schedule a rental.


Top Ten Video Compressor Codecs for 2010

December 8, 2010

With so many options out there, moviemaking has never been easier! It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3—light the scene, roll camera, and then download the footage to your computer and transcode the acquisition compression type to an intermediate codec with a bit rate and depth suited for your processor architecture and personal preference. Don’t forget to de-interlace. How easy is that?!

(Hats off to the grandfather of inter-frame encoding. Of course, completely obsolete now.)

(The enfant terrible just won’t quit!)

8—DVCPRO-HD 720/60p
(Ok, ok, the red desaturation on re-compression is annoying, but hey, it’s otherwise a war horse)

(Use it with RED QT M proxy, and you’ve got a 4:4:4 one-two punch!)

(Did I hear someone say nanoFlash?!)

5—Apple ProRes 422
(Hands down, king of the pack among DCT based, intra-frame only, intermediate codecs)

4—AJA KonaLH 1080i 29.97 8bit
(Just 1 of the 34 options in the “Easy Setup” menu)

3—Avid DVxHD 36 Mbit/s, 8 bit depth
(Packed macroblocks??? Avid, you’re blowing my mind!!!)

2—MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Linear PCM

1—10bit YUV 4:2:2 Cineform NeoHD 1080P*
(Perfect for when you’re looking for that quick and easy solution.)
*Only reliable when using Lacczos 3-lobe resampler

15th Anniversary Scrapbook: NWFF on Kong TV in ’98

September 22, 2010

A TV spot produced by Seattle’s Kong TV, announcing WigglyWorld’s first Start to Finish film, Money Buys Happiness. Starring co-founder Jamie Hook and writer/director Gregg Lachow. Followed by Jamie quoting Robert Bresson.

Movie Theater Memoirs

July 23, 2010

Going to the movies can change your life. Here’s 15 testimonials.

NWFF Summer Classes

May 14, 2010

NWFF’s summer class listings are now online. And I must say, it’s a lovely assemblage of gifted and talented instructors leading thoughtful discussions and discourses. One of Seattle’s gurus of screen vocabulary, Brian McDonald, has tailored his story-writing class for the filmmaker audience with Cinematic  Storytelling. We’re also introducing a new class on 3-D modeling and animation software: Introduction to Blender, led by Tony Mullen (an animation virtuoso who cut his animation teeth with NWFF’s own Bolex camera.) Peaking further into the changes that technology is having on filmmaking, we’re offering a one-day class about filming with digital SLRs and another on digital post production.

Special guests will be bringing their skilled expertise to teach: longtime music-documentarian Murray Lerner shares his doc-making knowledge, Vincent Moon offers his own approach to music-inspired film with a show and tell of quiet, intimate musical performances, and brothers Benny and Josh Safdie challenge you to write from the gut by watching and analyzing films that tug at your emotional strings in ever to so subtle ways, and use that to kick-start your own heart-felt storytelling.

And for the teen filmmakers, we still have space available in our two-week Mixed Animation Camp for 14-17 year olds, happening in August. Scholarships are available!

Get Your Bids In, Online Auction Closes Sunday

May 7, 2010

As the hours are counting down to the close of NWFF’s online auction, a new item has been added! NWFF’s cherished screenwriting instructor, Walter Dalton, is offering his consultation time for aspiring screenwriters. BTW, have you seen the classic TV show Barney Miller? Like me, do you consider it to be one of the greatest sitcoms ever? Does the thought of Hal Linden’s Mustache or Abe Vigoda’s deadpan wit fill you with glee? Walter wrote several of those episodes!

NWFF’s online auction is chock full of unique encounters for emerging filmmakers to learn from the masters, and get amazing deals on Seattle film/video vendor services. If you plan to make a film in the next year, any one of these items will give you a flying leap forward.

Take me to the online auction

NWFF Teen Movies at Seattle Public Library

March 1, 2010

NWFF is participating with a show at SPL this Friday at 6:30. We’ll be showing off some of the finest teen produced films from the past 5 years of NWFF summer youth camps. Come join the fun!

The Seattle Public Library hosts Teen Created Film Festival on March 5

See short films created by some of Seattle’s finest young talent at the Teen Created Film Festival from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 5 at The Seattle Public Library, Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Microsoft Auditorium, Level 1.

The program is free and open to the public. No registration is required. Parking will be available in the Central Library garage for a $5 special event rate. The Fourth Ave. entrance will open at 6:15 p.m. No late seating after 6:45 p.m.

Films will include submissions from teens involved with the Northwest Film Forum, The Center School, Reel Grrls and 911 Seattle Media Arts Center. A Q&A with featured filmmakers will take place following the film screening.

The Northwest Film Forum is Seattle’s premier film arts organization, screening over 200 independently made and classic films annually, offering a year-round schedule of filmmaking classes, and supporting filmmakers at all stages of their careers.

The Center School is an arts-focused public high school located in the heart of Seattle. “Teen films are great to see because teenagers have so much energy and passion that they channel into their films” said Center School filmmaker Sam Bender. “They don’t care about trying to appeal to demographics or making expensive productions, they just want to make something to express themselves or tell a story.”

Seattle-based Reel Grrls is the first all-girl year round media program empowering teen girls from diverse communities to realize their power, talent, and influence through media production. Reel Grrls participants learn to critique media images, gain video production skills, and consistently win accolades from film festivals worldwide.

911 Seattle Media Arts Center is a non-profit media center supporting the creative use of media for communication and art making. 911 Seattle Media Arts Center’s youth classes put the power of digital media technology in the hands of tomorrow’s artists, filmmakers and media producers.

The film festival is presented by The Seattle Public Library in partnership with the Northwest Film Forum, The Center School, Reel Grrls and 911 Seattle Media Arts Center.

For more information, call The Seattle Public Library at 206-386-4636.

For more information contact:

Andra Addison, communications director

Top Ten NWFF Gags, Pranks and High Jinks of the Decade

December 9, 2009

Any stereotypes of NWFF as a place mired in humorless, art-house sophistication can be dispelled here and now. In fact, any respect you may have had for us at all may be dispelled. Underneath the Japanese auteur retrospectives and slow Hungarian tone poems is a staff that harbors a very low-brow sense of humor. Here are some highlights (and lowlights) of our office pranks, media gags and otherwise zany antics (written with help from NWFF’s Michael My-Favorite-Movie-Of-All-Time-Is-Jackass Seiwerath).

In no particular order:

Man vs Pig Eating Contest – 2003

“Zack Carlson knows what it takes to win. Grade school spelling prowess took him to the Western United States Spelling Bee Championship in the mid-80s.  Now he is planning to take that winner’s attitude to the Little Theatre on Sunday, December 15, where he will challenge a real live pig to a Whopper®-eating contest as part of the Northwest Film Forum’s Ultra: The High Noon of Consumer Culture series. Carlson, programmer for the Grand Illusion Cinema, will gorge himself in an attempt to down ten burgers in ten minutes or less, while his swine competitor attempts the same. Will ten USDA inspected ground beef burgers prove to be too much for Carlson? In this dramatic final salute to the era of consumer culture that pits man against a pig and beef, Carlson will strive to hold his own (and hold it down). ‘I do like the burgers,’ he contends.”

In a close battle of appetite and wits, Zack narrowly defeated his opponent.

Throw The Stranger a Whip – 2008

A DHL delivery mix-up began an afternoon repartee with The Stranger’s (then) film editor, Bradley Steinbacher. Paramount intended to send him promo schwag for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull but it arrived at NWFF instead. A leather whip was included in the envelope.  A NWFF intern was sent to hand-deliver the package to Brad, but with the whip and promo material removed and a pile of sand in its place. Adam Sekuler sends Brad a cryptic email, “Throw me the idol and I’ll throw you the whip.”  After a few rounds of quoting Indiana Jones dialogue to each other, Bradley finally deduces what has happened, but not until after NWFF enshrines the whip in our concession display case.

deco dawson’s parade – 2003

In February 2003, NWFF hosted a month long residency of Canadian filmmaker, playwright and Guy Maddin collaborator, deco dawson. To honor his arrival, we staged a parade. With costumes, noise-makers, skittish children and a royal crown aloft deco’s head, we thoroughly confused the residents of Capitol Hill with a parade that began at the Little Theatre and (appropriately) ended at a wine shop.

Unintentional Prank: Guest Programmer Asks Press For Beer Money – 2002

A one-time, guest programmer (name withheld) made an appearance before Seattle’s film press corps, and in a drunken stupor, belligerently demanded that before he begins the screening, someone must give him $5 so he could go buy himself a beer. The good-humored press giggled at the joke. The guest programmer didn’t budge (although he may have swooned from drunkness). The silence turned to awkward discomfort. Someone gave him his $5, the show resumed, and the guest programmer got himself a beer (and did not return to program any more events at NWFF).

Ivan Reitman and Ghostbusters 3 Announced as Start to Finish Recipient – 2004

NWFF’s official email digest from April 1, 2004 included this headlining story:

“Northwest Film Forum is proud to announce a ground-breaking partnership with Hollywood Director Ivan Reitman as Ivan’s latest film, “GHOSTBUSTERS 3: THE SEARCH FOR SLIMER,” is given the NWFF’s prestigious Start-to-Finish Award.

In a press conference held outside a liquor store a block from the Chinese Mann’s Theater in Los Angeles, Ivan said, “I’m really glad to have the institutional support of Northwest Film Festival behind me. With the reputation of the NWFF, we’re sure to make a strong appearance at the Berlin Film Festival next year and we’ll be virtually guaranteed to snag a distribution deal with Netflix.”

Michael Seiwerath, executive director for NWFF, although visibly drunk, concurred with Ivan’s enthusiasm. “We chose Ivan’s treatment for GHOSTBUSTERS 3 because we really liked the thoughtful subtext between Bill Murray’s character, Dr. Peter Venkman, and the symbiotic relationship he shares with the time-travelling, ectomorph belly-dancer, Zorpphaxx The Incomparable….”

Only a few years later, NWFF would announce a Start-to-Finish film about blue fish birthed from men’s butts.

Mauled—Scenes from Northlake Mall – 2003

NWFF produced its own candid camera event on Black Friday of 2003. All in one day, three camera crews showed up at malls across Seattle to document the madness of consumer culture. The footage was edited and screened for free that evening to honor Buy Nothing Day. Not entirely with journalistic integrity however, as staff members staged pranks to get the goat of our discount hungry prey. Santa Clause is accosted, a man enters a GAP wearing no pants, and panic inducing measures are added to the year’s most popular toy, Chicken Dance Elmo. Karma strikes however, as retribution for our pranks causes one of the crew to vomit at the sight of people fighting for toys at 6AM.

Point Break Live! – 2003

Creative fireworks exploded when Jaime and Jamie debuted Point Break Live! at the Little Theatre. The formula for raucous fun envisioned by the creators included adding a dash of confusion to the play, by selecting a willing participant from the audience each night to be the lead performer (on one occasion, seriously frightening the audience momentarily as the drunken participant jumped from a tall stage believing he was secured by wires). Confusion inevitably tipped toward chaos, however, as every night the same resident of the Park apartments would call the police on account of the gunfire and screaming. The cops were videotaped and incorporated into each night’s performance.

The Hanna Montana Keyboard – 2009

During Spring 2009, Peter Lucas found the smiling face of Hannah Montana appearing in unexpected locations (above his desk, outside his apartment). The appearances made their climax on April 1 when Peter comes into the office and sits at his computer. Still weary from a slow morning routine, he starts typing at his keyboard and jibberish appears on his screen. Confused why his fingers aren’t typing the letters he meant to write, he discovers that the keyboard letters are all mixed up. Missing the fact that the middle row of his keyboard spells out “mylie cyrus”, he begins to remove the letters and discovers the smiling face of Hanna Montana underneath the keys.

Mustache Contest: Men’s and Women’s – 2000/2003

On January 1, 2000 a number of men in the NWFF community started growing mustaches.  On Valentine’s day, there was a contest before a screening of O Amour Natural.  Spencer Hoyt won all around best mustache, while Michael Seiwerath won “Best Groomed.”  Jamie Hook, with some weak peach fuzz, made a desperate move and ran backstage, cut off his pube hair, and tried to glue it to his lip. He lost.

Two years later, in the interest of gender equality, Jaime Keeling tried to find contestants for an all ladies mustache contest.  Desperate to find candidates, she started running up to women on the street, complementing them on their modest ‘stache and asked them to grow it out for the contest.  It did not go over well.

Party High Jinks – All Year, Every Year

If there’s one thing NWFF will be known for during the decade of the oughts, it’s got to be the parties. A few highlights from the past 10 years of galas, auctions and fundraisers:

The secret prize at the third NWFF auction is a bouncy castle.  Some of the ladies laugh so hard, they pee their underpants. Some confess they were not wearing underpants.

In the final hours of 2005’s auction, Rachel Kessler and Anne Bradfield are lying on the floor of the Scottish Rite temple, locked in the most intense match of arm wrestling in history, while the clean-up crew casually steps over them.

At the 12th Ave Grand Opening, one of the debutantes sucker punches an annoying armless mime, getting both blood and white grease paint on her evening glove.

To teach the gathered audience at our Grand Opening a lesson in Leaps-of-Faith, Jamie Hook announces he will launch himself from the top of our grand staircase, expecting the NWFF supporters to catch his fall. Those who know Jamie best, fully expected him to follow through. But he demurred.

What was the highlight of a fundraising party for Matt Wilkin’s Start-To-Finish film? What else—pillow fights.

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned About Movie Theaters During the Last Decade Membership Services

December 8, 2009

A Top Ten List by NWFF’s Membership Service’s volunteer:
(A word of Warning: This blog post contains language one might regard as, shall we say, PG-13?)

Since 2000, I’ve both worked in multiplexes and volunteered at NWFF:

here are the top ten things of my decade that I won’t miss about working in a big commercial movie theater.

1. My Big Fat Greek Diaper

One afternoon during the 40 week run of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, an elderly woman came out of the theater to profusely thank my manager for screening such a wonderful movie, but that she was “sorry, but the movie was too good to miss!”  Sorry for what? my manager asked.  The woman abruptly left and my manager went into the theater to find a runny puddle of still warm urine leaking out of a makeshift diaper made out of concession napkins.  The thing I don’t miss is projecting and therefore having to watch several minutes of that movie.  The pee bothered me much less.

2. Comic Book Movies

Boy Howdy, am I glad to not be working in a big theater during the releases of movies like Iron Man, Wanted, and the 3 hour long commercial for male masturbation and electric guitars, Watchmen (brilliant American satirist Harry Knowles says, “I WATCHED THE FUCKING WATCHMEN AND FUCKING LOVED IT!”).  Why do so many people packed into these movies wear tshirts with the names and marketing logos of the things they like?  Hey, I like comics just as much as the next person with corrective lenses, and I know comic books can be unabashedly literal sometimes, but going to the Spiderman movie while wearing a Spiderman shirt and rubber face mask seems a little… obvious.

3. Commercial Theater Resources

I’m not one to back down from even the dumbest dare, and I don’t miss guzzling dixie cups of liquid butter flavor mixed with frozen Cherry Coke, or watching our 37 year old floor manager wear a large popcorn bucket as a hat because our Down’s Syndrome ticket taker “daaaaared him!”  Yeah, that happened.  Deal with it.

4. Playing the Enforcer

The worst part of working the theater floor in a big operation was playing small-town TSA agent.  Many of my co-workers, under the hawk-like eyes of management, would grab outside coffee cups from the clutches of movie goers; some bootlickers started unilaterally searching large purses and asking to inspect the contents of shopping bags.  Me?  I figured if you just paid money to see the latest Adam Sandler vehicle, you can bring in whatever salve you want.  Plus the smells of the dreaded “outside food and beverages” helped to mask the stench of months-old urine that I never cleaned up.

5. Free Pass to Mediocrity

Have you ever had a free pass to see any and every movie in wide release?  Forget about discriminating tastes, I saw everything from Deep Blue Sea to All About the Benjamins to Insomnia to Maid in Manhattan over the course of a few years. After watching movies trying to teach me about Life and Love and ToughTimes and Winning Not In The Literal Sense But In The Bigger Sense,the only lesson I learned is that even my most wasteful time (say, staring at the carpet in silence) is more valuable than a free shittymovie.

6. Fancy Pants

Why do movie theater uniforms only come in Xtra Large?  Over the years, I’ve worn stiff polo shirts and starchy vests tailored to snugly fit Suge Knight.  Uh, clip-on bowties.

7. Sharing Bathrooms

I think the thing I miss the very least is sharing a bathroom with the customers.  Can you imagine working eight hours a day, several days a week feeding popcorn (which is just hot fiber and roughage) and liters of super fizzy fountain soda to people who love to sit down for hours at a time?  Shudder.

8. The Neighborhood

Chain movie theaters tend to either be inside malls or the anchor of a strip mall.  I hated working in those buildings because of the fluorescent lighting, constant brain-hating sneaker on linoleum squeaks, emotional shoppers with blond highlights and unrealistically high levels of self-esteem (“I’m worth it!!”), and the vomit bag smells of the food court.  My manager hated it because she thought that malls were obvious terrorist targets in a post 9/11 world.  God, if only, Vicky.  If only.

9. Tag-alongs

Once word gets out that you have free passes to all the commercial theaters in town, friends start coming out of the woodwork.  People like your roommate’s ponytailed boyfriend who wants tickets to Cradle 2 tha’ Grave, or that frizzy haired theater art major who absolutely must see the employee’s preview of the latest installment of the Harry Potter saga.  Uh, hey Michelle, did you ever think that I want to go see it a-l-o-n-e??

10. “Programming”

When management sat down to pick the coming attractions, they looked at the numbers and ultimately, scheduled soft-core zombie movies or rom-coms starring young people with big teeth.  I suspect the workplace problems listed above stem from the nature of big business movie theaters: profit over art, sedentary entertainment over intellectual engagement, market trends over empowering filmmakers.  I feel so much better about donating my time to support an organization like NWFF because our programming and classes and presence in the the Northwest support the cinematic community and further the art form.  I can tell you that I’ll never wear another XXL polo shirt ever again just so Will Smith can shit out another inspirational cross-marketing blitz at $12 a head.

Fortunately, NWFF avoids most of these pitfalls AND there are often openings to volunteer your precious time all over the building: scooping non-fake-butter-soaked popcorn and selling our concessions (which aren’t marked up the usual 800%), projecting our thoughtfully picked movies, working in our office doing the admin bidding of the super cool staff (uh, we’re cool, right?), and pitching in with facilities.  And instead of hazarding a run-in with an agitated gastrointestinal bomb, maybe you’ll meet a fellow cineast who gets excited about reading subtitles.  Please support NWFF by coming to see a movie, volunteering your time, or making a financial gift to help further our mission!

Local Sightings Awards

October 14, 2009


Congratulations and Bravos are owed to all the filmmakers and audience members who attended this year’s Local Sightings Film Festival!  It was an all-around exciting week with cheering audiences, stimulating conversations and gleeful celebrating. But as always, we give a special nod of encouragement to a few filmmakers along with some cold hard cash. Our jury of esteemed guests (Vanessa Renwick, Barry Jenkins and Rob Nelson) have chosen the following three films as this  year’s winners:  

Best Feature: River Ways by Colin Stryker

Best Short: The Heart is What Remains by Alexandra Roxo

Special Short Jury Prize: Claustrophobia by Joe Shapiro