How a new law could bring cinema back to Washington

Film industry leaders in Washington are excited about the possibility of major productions returning to the state as new tax incentives take effect.

SEATTLE — Seattle’s film industry and creators have had many sleepless nights since the ubiquitous movie debuted nearly 30 years ago.

‘Sleepless in Seattle’ is just one movie that was shot almost entirely on location in western Washington, alongside recurring hits such as ‘Singles’, ‘Hand That Rocks the Cradle’, ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys” and “10 Things I Hate You.”

But the state’s film credits couldn’t keep up with the competition, and Vancouver, B.C. became a regular stand-in for Washington Towns, whether in “The Killing” or “Fifty Shades of Grey.” . In fact, the classic UW Rowing crew tale, “The Boys in the Boat,” is being filmed in London right now.

But the future may be different, based on a bill recently signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee.

“I think we have a real opportunity ahead of us,” said Amy Lillard of Washington cinemawhich has been pushing lawmakers for years to strengthen incentives and tax credits for studios and production companies.

Last week, Inslee signed the Cinema Competitiveness Program legislation, which brings the incentives up to $15 million a year. It previously stood at $3.5 million per year.

The bill puts Washington in a more competitive position to attract productions, with lawmakers in Oregon providing $20 million a year and Montana providing $12 million, according to Lillard.

“Fifty percent of any budget goes to paying people, and the other fifty percent goes to paying and working with local businesses,” she said, noting that active production can boost service providers. food or honey buckets.

“When people call Oregon to film there, they also call Washington because we have similar locations, similar infrastructure and things like that. I think we’ll start to win the war more often and see more of these projects that could be shot in Washington, filmed in Washington.”

Lillard also highlighted King County’s recent investment in converting an old flour mill to create Harbor Island Studios.

“The new incentive bill is a game-changer for our industry,” said Kate Becker, who heads up King County’s Office of the Creative Economy and who helmed KING 5 during a tour of the studios.

“We’re getting more competitive,” she said, as she walked proudly through the 117,000-square-foot facility on Seattle’s waterfront, complete with two sound stages and a potentially soundproof third stage. “Could we go back to the golden age of the 90s? Hopefully.”

Recently, production wrapped on the site of “Three Busy Debras,” produced by Amy Poehler, which is slated to debut on HBO this month, Becker said. Another reality show begins filming in studios next week.

Lillard said she’s already been hearing from companies since signing the bill that long excluded Washington. She had been fighting for a decade to increase incentives and thinks it has already changed the outlook.

“This legislation,” she said, “is transformative for the film industry.