Local nonprofit film studio premieres its first feature
Seattle Times movie critic
There's a new movie studio in town — with a difference. The Film Company, founded by the Northwest Film Forum, is a nonprofit film studio formed with the purpose of assisting local independent filmmakers to create new work. It has a paid staff, committed funding for at least three years, and a dream: to build a true community.
Gregg Lachow, executive producer of The Film Company, describes the nonprofit studio concept as highly unusual.
"I don't think there's anything really like this in the country," he said. In the works for nearly a year, the program is now making itself known to Seattle audiences, last month through a mixed-media performance titled "Where Are We, Where Are We Going?" and this week with the world premiere of its first feature-length film: the locally made comedy "The Telephone Pole Numbering System," directed by William Weiss. The film plays tonight through Sunday at Northwest Film Forum; for ticket information, see www.nwfilmforum.org or call 206-267-5380.
Lachow, himself a filmmaker ("Money Buys Happiness," "Silence!"), described how it's often easy for a filmmaker to get a flurry of local publicity for a first feature — and then never be heard from again. "It's not that the film was or wasn't good, but it takes so much energy and passion and time and money to create the film, and when you're done you literally have nothing left. If you want to make another project, you have to start accumulating from zero. It's why so few of us make a second feature, let alone a third, in any kind of independent way."
With The Film Company's support, local filmmakers will get a boost — of money and, just as important, of energy. "We make a commitment to the filmmakers that we'll work with them again," said Lachow. "When it's done, [they're] energized and refreshed and more likely to make the next film rather than less likely."
And The Film Company's work doesn't end when the film is done: part of the new initiative is to help filmmakers get their work out into the world, to film festivals and beyond. After "The Telephone Pole Numbering System" has its premiere here, it will be submitted to festivals around the world, with the ultimate goal of finding independent distribution.
In keeping with its emphasis on helping artists create work that might not otherwise get made, The Film Company has already approached some nationally known filmmakers. Canadian writer/director Guy Maddin ("Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary," "The Saddest Music in the World") will come to Seattle in early 2005 to shoot a feature-length film with The Film Company, and other collaborative projects are in the works.
All this costs money, and The Film Company has raised "a fair amount," said Lachow, mostly from individual patrons. A typical feature project might cost between $100,000 and $200,000, and the group can work on several projects at a time.
With a detailed three-year plan in place, Lachow sees The Film Company becoming a local center for independent film, "so that filmmakers can stay here and continue to grow and get better. The big thing that we're doing is adding rungs to the ladder."
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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