In May, Seattle resident Jennifer Roth, executive producer of such acclaimed films as Black Swan and The Wrestler, received the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film. Roth was instrumental in getting The Details, a dark comedy starring Tobey Maguire and Elizabeth Banks, to shoot in several Seattle neighborhoods in 2009.
But there are always hurdles. “Not passing the state income tax [last year] means we can’t have a competitive incentive program,” Roth laments. “It was a huge blow.”
Getting films made in Washington is a quest often frustrated by the state’s inability to offer greater financial incentive to film companies seeking shoot locations. Via the nonprofit, Seattle-based agency Washington Filmworks, the state offers funding assistance of up to 30 percent of qualified expenditures, which is low compared to other states and Canada. And that program is threatened by the state Legislature’s effort to eliminate a $5 billion deficit. At press time, the fate of Washington Filmworks remained uncertain.
Regardless of how much—or how little—financial assistance Washington is able to provide filmmakers, Roth is not a pessimist. “We’re registering at the national level and breeding a nice film community here,” she says, pointing to recent achievements such as Seattle filmmaker Megan Griffiths’ success at the Sundance Film Festival with The Off Hours. If Roth has anything to do with it, the list of locally made successes will continue to grow.