Last year, there was excitement in the offices of Seattle Business magazine when a crew moved in for a few days to do some filming on Safety Not Guaranteed, an indie film by the producers of the Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine. We caught glimpses of familiar television stars such as Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), who plays an intern for our sister publication, Seattle magazine, and Mary Lynn Rajskub (24), who acts as the tough editor.
When the movie came out this spring to rave reviews, it was a blast to see the conference room where we hold our story meetings playing a central role in the opening scene. But what was really eye opening to me, as the editor of Seattle Business, was to learn the extent to which creative people from our region played prominent roles in this and other successful independent films being released this year.
Safety Not Guaranteed was coproduced by Lacey Leavitt, the young Seattle talent who produced The Off Hours. A movie titled Grassroots, about a 2001 Seattle City Council race, was based on a book by local writer Grant Cogswell. Eden, a movie shot in Ellensburg about a woman’s journey toward self-discovery, came from Seattle filmmaker Megan Griffiths. Your Sister’s Sister was written and directed by Seattle’s Lynn Shelton, whom Gawker.com recently called “the next great American director.”
Seattle is no Hollywood. But the success of these films, all four of which seem likely to get national distribution, underscores the breadth and depth of the talent that exists in this region. And it’s a reminder of how important the creative elements of our workforce are to our regional economy (see the story on Seattle Artthrob on page 44).
Take Seattle-based Clatter & Din, which happens to be situated in our building, a floor above us. The company did substantial post-production work on three of the four films I mentioned. It also does sound work for video game companies in the area. Those firms, in turn, hire composers to write soundtracks and actors to provide the voices, Shrek-style, for key roles. Peter Barnes, Clatter & Din’s co-owner, an ex-drummer in a jazz group, says he’s also hired 75 videographers around the region to help put together the 3,000 two-minute video ads that run on KOMO News Network’s many community websites.
The range of creative talent required in any given enterprise is astounding. Amazon.com hires photographers, writers, stylists and designers. It’s lucky to have such a large pool of creative talent to draw from. A 2010 report notes that Seattle has 11,160 jobs in music, 5,310 jobs in theater, 2,270 jobs in film, 4,200 jobs in visual arts and 6,030 jobs in advertising.
It’s important to remember that a substantial portion of that talent resides in the Seattle area because of the cultural institutions based here, whether we’re talking about the Seattle Repertory Theatre (page 42), the Pacific Northwest Ballet or the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, which attract and nurture that talent. Those institutions, directly and indirectly, help our next generation of industries to flourish and we should support them.