Northwest Film Forum’s auditorium was ripe with ideas during its “Meet Up for a Cause” event last Wednesday evening, which provided an opportunity for community organizations to meet and pitch story ideas to Seattle filmmakers. Filmmakers also learned about available free resources.
The event started with a panel of Seattle film industry professionals. Amy Benson, Jill Freidberg and Eli Kimaro shared their experiences making films and gave tips about contract negotiations. The trio also had advice for community organizations about how to prepare for meetings with filmmakers.
Freidberg, a documentary film, oral history and audio storytelling instructor at University of Washington-Bothell, explained the importance of the fast, cheap, good triangle.
“If you want it to be fast and good, it will not be cheap. If you want it to be good and cheap, it will not be fast. That equation really matters,” Freidberg said. “If you pitch them [filmmakers] on something, they may think it’s a really good idea. But if the budget means that that amazing idea is unachievable, a smart filmmaker will say no because they understand that, for that budget or within the time limitations, it can’t be done well.”
Northwest Film Forum partnered with the Seattle Documentary Association to create the event, the first of its kind.
According to Jonah Kozlowski, Northwest Film Forum’s manager of education and artist services, the organization has seen increasing numbers of filmmakers contact them after the election in hopes of using their skills to give back to the community.
“We decided to create an avenue for people to connect with each other, and help filmmakers find causes that need help,” Kozlowski said.
Pitches after the panel ranged from organizations that offer access to equipment for filmmakers, to others looking for professionals to tell their stories
Reel Grrls, a nonprofit that offers training and film programs to female students and gender nonconforming youth, came to the event in hopes of recruiting industry professionals to serve as mentors for its students.
“There are so many professionals who want to be a part of organizations like this, but also want to have a creative outlet for themselves,” said Reel Grrls intern Camille Adams. “So many Seattle filmmakers are in corporate video and have those kinds of side passions. However, they don’t have that outlet all the time.”
The group is currently working on a Seattle Snap Series, which gives filmmakers an opportunity to break from the daily grind and work collaboratively with Reel Grrls students.
“It’s a great way to satisfy that creative need for professional filmmakers while also giving students the benefit of that expertise,” Adams said.
Seattle filmmaker Brody Willis is executive director of Blanket Fort Films, a fledgling year-old company focused on telling the stories of underrepresented communities, including women, people of color and LGBTQ,.
“The kinds of films we are hoping to present to the community are ones from the demographics that we serve. We want to bring a different set of stories that people have not seen,” Willis said.
Blanket Fort also provides free education and access to gear for these underrepresented communities.
“I want people to know that we are actively producing films, that we’re actively training filmmakers, and that we have gear — very good gear — that is in use in the industry,” Willis said. “We not only want to support organizations, but we also want to get filmmakers to use that gear.”
Kozlowski used the opportunity to tell filmmakers attending the event about NWFF’s new free-access programs. These include programs that allow people use of its various spaces for free, free time with video-editing stations, and grants for filmmakers that are unable to afford the cost of renting gear.
“I connect with people every day here that have amazing stories,” Kozlowski said.
“We hope that people will walk away with 10 new contacts that they can call when they have projects that need to be filmed or documented.”
For more information on NWFF’s free-access programs, visit nwfilmforum.org.