by Slade Burgess
Washington’s film incentive program has been extended for 10 additional years, providing $3.5M in yearly funds for local film hiring and allowing Washington Filmworks (our state film office) to remain in operation. The announcement came in the final hour of budget negotiations, after months of lobbying and a well-organized campaign led by Washington Filmworks. The current program was set to sunset on June 30, 2017.
Washington’s film industry is a significant asset in local job creation. Since beginning in 2007, Washington Filmworks’ incentives have created more than 17,500 jobs totaling an estimated $52 million in direct wages and benefits. The approved funding will support the continued success in film job creation in the state of Washington and locally in Seattle. In 2016 alone, Seattle permitted film productions reported 4,490 local crew hires and 2,447 local talent hires.
Two weeks ago, Mayor Murray joined film industry leaders for Mayor’s Film + Music Day. The Mayor heard directly from multiple small business owners and film industry professionals about the current state of the industry and the importance of the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program (a.k.a. the film incentive) in driving local job creation, as well as the economic impacts to numerous small businesses. In the last 10 years, the program has spent approximately $116 million in direct in-state spending. According to information gathered during the legislative campaign, while the film incentive directly supports film production jobs and businesses, that only accounts for five percent (5%) of the spending is on direct film-related businesses. The large remainder of money is dispersed throughout local businesses through activities like lodging, restaurants, and travel (to name a few).
In addition to the economic benefits of stabilizing and growing our city’s film industry, the incentive also allows our state film office to remain open. While managing the state incentive, Washington Filmworks also provides support in location scouting, a crew database, and connects filmmakers to needed local resources to support their production. Last year alone, the state film office generated an estimated $7.2 million of direct spending in communities across the state.
Bring it on, filmmakers. Seattle is open for business!