Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Seattle Film Industry - Where Is It?

Seattle Film Industry - Where Is It?
"You wouldn't say there was a Beef Industry somewhere, just because they eat a lot of hamburgers there. Even if they bought a lot of forks, and discussed forks and hamburgers and cattle incessantly. You wouldn't call them cattlemen, you'd call them enthusiastic beef consumers." -- Sam Longoria

Lots of Film Classes - Speedy Film Contests - Endless Local Film Festival

I've been working here in Seattle (the city of my birth, where I made my first 35mm feature) on projects for the last two years, just working and holding my tongue, really.

I don't see a "Seattle film industry" here. All I see here is "meetings," and "begging for state money," and "meetings about begging for state money." I see people working in media, and in television, and corporate video, but no movies. If you don't know those are different businesses, you don't get it. I see a great big Seattle film TEACHING industry.

I'm about to move along to the next phase of my projects, and I'm mentioning this in passing. I don't expect anyone to listen to it, because I grew up here, and I know how resistant people can be.

I am discouraged so much energy here is spent making short films that will never be seen, (except at the local endless film festival) and filmmakers rushing to "the next one" when they don't even bother to sell "this one." Not my problem, but it is discouraging, even to watch. 

An "industry" means SALES. No sales, no industry. Just a lot of activity. Busy for no reason.

If you knew a pumpkin farmer, and he grew fine pumpkins, but never took them to market to sell them, he just piled them in his yard, and left them to rot, wouldn't you think he was crazy? What if there was a club for "Pumpkin Farmers," and that's all any of them did? And they got together often, to discuss it endlessly? Pretty weird, it seems to me.

There is much talk in Seattle about the local "Film Industry." Honestly I don't see one. Certainly not the "Selling The Film" part, which is what pays for all the other parts. 

I see a whole lot of enthusiasm here for making movies, and God bless it, but very little attention is paid to "Selling The Film." (Which, I can tell you, takes away all the problems of filmmaking). You get money, time, and wherewithal to make "the next one," and even get enough to eat, and to buy new gear, by "Selling The Film." 

All those mansions in Beverly Hills? They were paid for by "Selling The Film." They were not paid for by "Making The Film," and certainly not by "Talking About Making The Film."

Why is there no emphasis here on selling? (Not just the lame discussions of "Distribution," or which streaming service is best). I mean learning how to SELL your movie, and sell tickets to it, which is more than just hanging them up for people to take or leave.

It is obvious ALL the money in Filmmaking comes from "Selling The Film." So why is Seattle film focused only on cameras and gear, endless pointless meetings, and on making lame-o, poorly conceived, poorly written, poorly acted, poorly made, unfunny, undramatic, unpaid shorts, and NOT on making one good marketable feature movie, and selling it? Why?

Somebody explain it to me. There is a disconnect here, and it's not mine. I've spent a good deal of time thinking about it, and I still don't get it.

If you're a Seattle Filmmaker, and you want to spend your time making commercial full-length movies that get SOLD so you can make the next one, and the next, get in touch.

If enough people 
get together who feel that way, and take ACTION - great things will happen.

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  1. It really sounds like being in the film industry is a very frustrating career at times. I personally think that being able to make films is impressive enough, and should be recognized in some way. Something that really is interesting is when you mentioned the fact that just because there are a lot of people making films in an area doesn't make that area a film city. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Jason. Good luck with your film.

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    1. Thank you, Pawan. I don't feel there is a scarcity of filmmaking classes. If anything there is a glut, of classes taught by the under- and un-qualified.