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: Tess Laeh
City: Spokane Valley
Legislative District: 6
Describe your work: Makeup Artist/ Special FX Make Up Artist
Years in the Industry: 3
What do you enjoy most about the work that you do? About being on set?
I enjoy the sense of community the film industry brings. Everyone looks out for one another, no matter if you are at the top of being a producer, or at the bottom of being a background extra. I’ve had the pleasure of working on both sides of the state, and we always try to be as respectful to the area as we can. And in turn, it has been mutually beneficial.
One example—we went to the small town of Index, WA. The town heard that we were coming out, and when we arrived we saw “Welcome Z Nation!” signs in all the store fronts. There was a bakery that had made zombie donuts and cookies, and our crew loved the idea so much we bought them out!
The incentive program has played a big role in making Z Nation possible. How has this program benefitted you or played a part in your financial or career growth?
Z Nation has been the biggest stepping stone for my career and my personal finances. I have been able to pay off my car, credit cards, and make a dent in my student loans. I am finally nearing a point where I can look at purchasing a house. If there were enough incentive for one more production like Z Nation to come in, I would have full time work all year round.
What kind of financial benefits have you seen or experienced from the incentive in your greater community?
I do the accounting for my department, and I can safely say more than half of our budget goes into the communities we are stationed at with buying our supplies alone. Then you account for all of the crew’s rent, utilities, groceries, gas, expendables, and traveling on both sides of the state. It’s hard not to see where the money is being spent in Washington.
What would you like legislators to know about the incentive renewal?
If you look at every other state with bigger film incentives, you will see they are flourishing. Look at what it has done for Atlanta, and this state has more to offer than Georgia. The potential is there, you just have to recognize it.
Photo Credit: Alexander Yellen