Welcome to the Keep Film in WA Series – The Faces of Film!
This series aims to shine a spotlight on the people behind the films of Washington State, using portraits of them at work to remind the public and legislators the lives (and livelihoods) that are at stake if the incentive program disappears on June 30. Along with each portrait, the cast or crew member will share in their own words the important role that the incentive has had in creating their career and why it is important to have a vibrant film industry in Washington State. We hope that these photographs serve as inspiration, and that you share your story with us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and social media (#keepfilminwa)—and most importantly with the elected officials that represent you in Olympia!
Name: Tania Kupczak
City: West Seattle
What do you do? Briefly describe your work:
These days, I mostly work a set decorator. I collaborate with the director, cinematographer and production designer to realize the look of the project. My work tells a visual backstory about the characters through their surroundings. In my life, I move back and forth between film and designing for theater and also doing titles and end credits as a side gig.
Years in the industry: 13
What do you enjoy most about the work that you do? About being on set?
My favorite parts of my job involve NOT being on set. I love dressing a set with my crew before production arrives, and getting to dig into the history of the characters who will inhabit it. I also love meeting location owners and hearing the stories of their places, shopping for set pieces at out-of-the-way spots, and getting to travel to strange corners of Washington that I would otherwise never encounter.
What kind of financial benefits have you seen or experienced from the incentive in your great community?
On a larger budget feature, my set decorating department will spend between $20,000 – $40,000 at thrift stores, lumber yards, equipment rental places, print shops, hardware stores, specialty fabrication businesses, artist studios and home decorating shops. I try to spend that money at local businesses whenever possible and recycle the resources back into the community at the end of the shoot.
What would you like legislators to know about the incentive renewal?
I’d like to dispel the notion that big-budget productions truck in all of their own people and resources, disrupt a small community and then leave again without making a positive impact. Most of the crew hired by out-of-state productions is made up of Washington residents who choose to live and work here because we love it here. The money from the incentive program is directly helping us stay employed here at home.
What would happen with your film career and life if it were to go away?
I would be faced with the choice of having to be away from home for work for a large portion of each year. At this point in my life, I’d likely seek out another career instead of moving elsewhere, and give up the film work for something more sustainable.