Last week, the City of Seattle Office of Film + Music, in partnership with the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) and One Reel, produced the first Film Career Day. Hundreds of students, educators, and young adults gathered at McCaw Hall and the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center for the day-long event featuring expert panels and networking opportunities with industry professionals.
“We are delighted to offer Film Career Day as a new opportunity for young and prospective filmmakers in the region,” said Kate Becker, Director of the Seattle Office of Film + Music. “It’s more important than ever that we connect youth, especially young people of color and women, with all the exciting creative opportunities waiting for them in our local film industry.”
“As the first generation born and raised into a world dominated by digital video, these kids are cinema-savvy and ten steps ahead of their teenage forebears,” said Marty Griswold, Executive Director at One Reel. “These are kids who just want to get there. Many are already equipped with the explosive creativity and skills to do it. Our job during Film Career Day was to point them in the right direction – and step out of their way. Based on the feedback we’ve received since then, I think we were successful!”
“The inaugural Film Career Day opened the door to the film industry to hundreds of youth from the Seattle area. I was blown away by the dialogue that was created between the young aspiring filmmakers and the industry professionals we invited to speak on the panels,” said Kyle Seago, Co-Founder and Managing Director of NFFTY. “I heard from many industry people that they had never seen such excitement and curiosity about their jobs before. It’s exciting to know that an event like this can serve a major role in growing the film and media industry in Seattle and beyond. Two-way exchanges of information and resources are vital to keeping a creative economy alive.”
Film Career Day began with NFFTY’s speed networking session, giving attendees the chance to meet industry experts, share their stories, and build relationships. Keynote speakers Chris Caldwell, Zeek Earl, and Brice Budke, the writer/producer/director team from Seattle production company Shep Films, discussed how they got their production company off the ground and how they overcame obstacles along the way.
Shep Film’s first feature, Prospect, filmed entirely in Washington, premiered this year at SXSW and will be in theaters this Friday, November 2. “It was an emotional grind,” said Earl, describing their long journey to get the green light to film Prospect. “We kept shooting commercials, making money, developing our skills, kept working on our script. It kept getting better and better and better, until we really had our plan down. And we got the green light.”
The rest of the day featured six different panel sessions. Panelists tackled tough questions facing local young people who are pursuing a career in film—for example: Is film school worth the money and time? What are the pros and cons of starting a film career here in Seattle, versus moving to cities like LA or New York? What kind of film work is available right now in Seattle, and how can you find it?
“It gave me a lot to think about,” said one young woman who attended the “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” panel on where to build a career. “I didn’t think so many jobs were on the corporate side. It sounds like that’s where jobs are, if you want to get started [in the film industry].”
Panels also gave attendees a chance to ask questions and hear from professionals who play various roles in the film industry, from producers and directors to composers and costume designers. The “Sound and Vision” panel featured Mayor’s Film Award winner and costume designer Ron Leamon (Blue Velvet, Man in the High Castle) and film composer Mike McCready (Sadie, We Bought a Zoo); the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” panel featured Mayor’s Film Award winner Jennifer Roth (Black Swan, The Wrestler).
Drawing on Seattle’s reputation as a leader in Virtual and Augmented Reality technology, local experts including Xuny Haley, Operations Manager at CoMotion at the University of Washington, Kim Voynar of WonderTek Labs, and Amy Lillard, Executive Director of Washington Filmworks, held a panel on VR/AR filmmaking.
Big local and national names participated in the inaugural Film Career Day, including surprise guest Mike McCready at the “Sound & Vision” panel. While McCready is best known from Pearl Jam, he has also been composing music for film and television for years.
During lunch, attendees also had the chance to browse through a table fair hosted by local schools and organizations including Scarecrow Video and TeenTix, to learn about part time jobs and internship opportunities and chat with current and former film and animation students.
One Reel has collaborated with the City to host career days, including Music Career Day, for many years. The first Film Career Day presented a new opportunity to partner with NFFTY, who’s experience and expertise were invaluable to connecting with the youth film community.
The Office of Film + Music looks forward to making Film Career Day even bigger and better next year! If you have ideas for things you’d like to see at 2019’s event, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.