Film Day 2017 kicked off under the domed ceiling of the Columbia Room in the lower level of the Washington State legislative building, where, by 9 am, hundreds of film professionals from across Washington had already arrived. After an hour of check-in, the day officially commenced with opening remarks from Washington Filmworks Board Chair, Don Jensen, and Executive Director, Amy Lillard, as well as from prime sponsors of the bills to renew the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program (MPCP), Senator Randi Becker (2, R) and Representative Marcus Riccelli (3, D).
After everyone had received their meeting assignments and, as needed, a dose of caffeine, the crowd dispersed and attendees began their different routes through the circuitous passages of the Legislative Building or across campus to other buildings which house the many legislative offices where the day’s meetings would take place. It wasn’t long before the entire Capitol was buzzing with activity from the film community, and no matter where you found yourself in each building’s web of hallways and stairwells, you were never far from another “Keep Film in WA” t-shirt or pin. Our presence at the Capitol was undeniable.
Rainy weather failed to dampen proceedings on the Capitol steps. On the contrary, virtual reality demonstrations, which headlined the outdoor itinerary, were probably the perfect antidote for a dreary late-Winter’s day in Olympia. In between meetings, attendees and legislators alike lined up to experience the three different VR compositions, participate in several Augmented Reality (AR) demonstrations, and witness a team of makeup artists transforming unassuming constituents into brain-hungry zombies.
Around lunchtime, the Columbia Room’s lights were dimmed for a screening of short films by Washington filmmakers, curated by the Seattle International Film Festival.
By 4:30, most legislative meetings were wrapping up, and the general consensus seemed to be that some cutting loose was in order, so zombies and humans declared a truce and retreated to Fish Tale Brew Pub for an ale or three. Unconfirmed reports from unnamed sources indicate that, for some, the carousing in Olympia may have lasted till long past traditionally observed bedtimes.
After every Film Day, you may feel an anti-climax. The “now what” moment. Film professionals travelled to the Capitol, shared stories, made a case for Washington Film, and may have changed minds, but there are no next-day results. No quantifiable index of the progress made. The fact of the matter is, the bill may not be passed tomorrow or the next day, and we still have work ahead of us. The effort to maintain the film incentive cannot end here.
Though we made a strong case on Film Day, legislators have a million things on their plates, and unless we keep this bill on their radars, we risk losing the momentum we worked so hard to create. If you met with legislators, follow-up: Call them or write to them to thank them for the time they spent talking with you. Remind them of your story and of the importance that this bill has to you and your family. If you didn’t have a chance to connect with your legislator for a meeting, write to let them know you’re sorry you missed them, but that you hope you can count on them to Keep Film in WA. Reach out to your legislator’s office and see if they are planning any in-district events where you can connect with them on your home turf.
Thanks again to everyone who made the day such a huge success, and in case you weren’t able to join us, here are some snapshots from throughout the day: