By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
Have you ever noticed that many of the most popular movies and TV shows that are set in or associated with the Puget Sound area aren’t actually filmed here?
The film industry has been relatively dormant in Washington state the past several years – but not in neighboring Oregon and British Columbia.
Even the “Twilight” series, ostensibly centered in Forks, Washington, was actually filmed in a variety of Oregon and British Columbia locations.
If you are a “Twilight” fan, you can see, (but you probably already knew) the pertinent details here: https://twilightsaga.fandom.com/wiki/Filming_locations.
Many films are set here, but not so many are actually filmed here.
We all know that films make money, but not many of us consider that the making of films also makes money.
Film production requires a constellation of expenses from housing to catering to much more.
A film shoot can re-invigorate a local economy, and could, as in the case of Forks or Roslyn (setting and film location of the TV series Northern Exposure) permanently lock that community into the landscape of American popular culture.
You can see a list of movies set, but not necessarily filmed in Washington here https://www.imdb.com/list/ls009074184/.
From obvious ones, like “Sleepless in Seattle” or the various films based on the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, or the Elvis-centered “It happened at the World’s Fair” (1963), who of us knew that films like “Air Bud” or “An Officer and a Gentleman” had Washington state connections?
For whatever reason, the heyday of film production in and around Washington was in the mid-to-late 1990s.
To put it mildly, a lot has changed since then.
From Tik-Tok to smart phones to COVID, technology, tastes and platforms are unrecognizable since then.
For whatever set of reasons, mostly financial, there was a boom in film-making in British Columbia in the early 2000s.
More than 300 Hallmark movies were filmed in the greater Vancouver/Victoria area from 2000 to 2020. (https://www.imdb.com/list/ls082646686/)
Hundreds of well-known movies were filmed, at least in part in BC. Here’s a partial list: https://www.ranker.com/list/movies-filmed-in-british-columbia/reference.
And if Netflix is more your style, you can see where many of your favorite shows were filmed here: https://www.netflixinyourneighbourhood.ca/?.
A lot of movies, TV shows and commercials are being filmed in our region, but not many within our state.
And there are many of us who, for a variety of reason, want to see more filming done here.
Enter Washington Filmworks
Since February 2007 when Washington Filmworks (www.washingtonfilmworks.org) was launched, more than 123 productions have completed principal photography, including more than 44 features, 18 episodic projects, 57 commercials, three short films, and at least one virtual reality project.
These productions, in barely over ten years, have collectively spent over $132 million in communities all across Washington State, while receiving $37.9 million in financial incentives.
This return on investment represents tangible economic development and support for dozens, if not hundreds of businesses across the State of Washington.
To put it simply, film-making is an easy investment with a lasting impact.
Washington Filmworks might be based in Seattle, but that does not mean that film-making is even remotely centered there.
If you roam around our state, as I love to do, you know that we have islands, dense forests, prairies, small towns, a snow-covered Bavarian village, serene Japanese gardens, and a whole array of wine country vineyards.
In fact, if you are looking for a film location, a wedding venue or just a weekend road trip, take a look at almost 2,000 locations here: https://wa.reel-scout.com/loc_results.aspx.
For a little history of film production in our state, check out this recent segment on KUOW.