EP NowEP StoreAcademySupportCommunityProducts by Country
Blog Home

Film Community and Industry Jobs Grow in Washington State

Thanks to new funding and a continuous effort by Amy Lillard, Executive Director of Washington Filmworks, WA becomes a sought-after filmmaker’s destination with diversity and opportunity
October 25, 2022

Joseph Chianese

EP Blog-WIDE-film community grows in WA

The Washington film community celebrated a huge win earlier this year when legislation ESHB 1914 increased the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program tax credit from $3.5 million to $15 million! It also increased the individual tax credit that a film can receive from $750,000 to $1 million.

This financial leap will expand Washington’s resources and create new opportunities to put their Northwest terrain, filled with rich rainforests and coastal metros, on the map as a filming destination for independents and studios alike.

Amy Lillard, Executive Director of the non-profit, Washington Filmworks, is the driving force behind the new legislation. After working as an independent film publicist in New York and Los Angeles for groundbreaking films such as ‘The Blair Witch Project,’ ‘American Psycho,’ and ‘Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels,’ she shifted her career toward supporting rising filmmakers. Today, she is dedicated to igniting a thriving film community across the entire state of Washington.

“I know the community. I care about these people. I always ask people what their superpower gift is, and I think mine is being a good organizer and creating programs,” says Lillard. “The business side of film is my jam. And so, I'm inspired by this community, and I love this community. It's just a joy to work for them.”

Amy Lillard_Washington Filmworks.jpg
Amy Lillard, Executive Director of Washington Filmworks (photo by J Ferguson Photos)

This passion flows through Lillard’s work and it shows. Over the past 15 years, she’s helped to grow Washington's film industry, boosting the economy and creating 24,800 jobs for local actors and crew members. Now, with the newly passed legislation and added funding, she’s ready to build on that foundation and make Washington a sought-after filmmaker’s destination.

What kind of films are best fit for Washington? No massive budgets are required. “We're not trying to be Atlanta,” says Lillard, “We're not trying to get the next Marvel movie. We're looking at that mid-level project and making sure that they have an exceptionally good filming experience.”

What Washington's new funding enhancements will offer filmmakers

With 4x the funding she had previously been given, Lillard and her team at Washington Filmworks are focused on extending a large part of the incentives toward building up historically excluded and rural communities throughout the state. The expansion of the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program also gives Washington Filmworks the legislative authority to provide career connected learning. Lillard and her staff plan to work toward funding projects that align with their values of telling stories from different perspectives, and helping young people realize that film is a viable employment path.

How else will the enhanced funding support Washington’s filmmaking community? Here’s a breakdown of what the enhancement offerings will provide:

  • 10% uplift if a project is telling the story of a historically excluded community
  • 10% uplift toward rural communities
  • $3 million reserved for films produced in Washington, by residents
  • Funding assistance for qualified in-state expenditures of up to 30% for motion pictures and episodic series with less than six episodes
  • Up to 35% for episodic series with at least six episodes
  • Funding assistance for qualified in-state expenditures of up to 15% for commercials

Some non-resident labor may qualify for a return of up to 15% if the production meets all eligibility criteria as detailed in the full Guidelines and Criteria, including but not limited to, utilizing at least an 85% Washington resident labor force.

Washington terrain and resources

Filmmakers who choose to shoot in Washington are fortunate to experience the rich terrain available to them!

“We have rainforests out on the Olympic Peninsula. We have deserts in the middle of the state. We have a huge agricultural section in Yakima in the middle of the state,” explains Lillard. “You can be on the water during the day and the snow in the mountains in the afternoon.”

The 2019 Sci-Fi Indie film, 'Prospect', starring Jay Duplass and Pedro Pascal, was filmed on a private land trust adjacent to Washington's Olympic National Park and was considered a love letter to Washington locations when it debuted. Directed by Seattle duo, Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell, the sci-fi western began as a short film that went on to sell out showings at SXSW and receive nearly half a million views on Vimeo.

Earl and Caldwell are now part of Washington’s filmmaking history, alongside other successful independent filmmakers, including Megan Griffiths, Lacey Leavitt, and the late two-time Emmy Nominated Lynn Shelton (‘Humpday,’ ‘Your Sister’s Sister’). Building on her legacy, the Lynn Shelton ‘Of A Certain Age’ Grant offers a project-based award to a woman, non-binary, or transgendered US director, aged 39 or older, who is creating their first feature film.

Midday Black Midnight Blue_photo Lovell Holder and Seal Tree LLC.jpg
Behind the scenes photo from 'Midday Black Midnight Blue' (photo by Lovell Holder and Seal Tree, LLC)

Since 30 of Washington's 39 counties are considered rural, Lillard was adamant about including enhanced incentives within the legislation to drive work within these communities. The 10% uplift for filming in rich rural lands around the state “allows [Washington Filmworks] to do infrastructure development to ensure that the communities where these productions are going to set up basecamp and shoot will be film-ready,” explains Lillard.

For filmmakers seeking soundstages, two main production facilities with soundstages are available in Washington: Studio A and Harbor Island Studios.

Studio A is a privately owned building which houses two soundstages with a total of 36,000 square feet of production space as well as production offices and post-production facilities.  Most recently, Studio A hosted the PureFlix episodic series, ‘Going Home’ starring Washington’s own Cynthia Geary (‘Northern Exposure’). 

Managed by King County in the greater Seattle area, Harbor Island is the largest space in the state, at 117,00 square feet, and recently hosted ‘Three Busy Debras’ starring Sandy Honig, Alyssa Stonoha, and Mitra Jouhari that went on to be featured on Adult Swim. With their recent $1.5M renovation, Harbor Island has plans to expand for larger productions to film there in the future.

In addition to these production facilities, Lillard takes pride in how welcoming the locals are,  supporting the needs of filmmakers who come to scout locations, “We have over 100 film liaisons across the state,” she explains. “These are people in communities across Washington that act as ambassadors for incoming projects. When we get an inquiry like, ‘I need a cabin in the woods,’ we'll go out to people [in the community] who might have that collateral to help the filmmaker find the land and location that best fits their request.”

Mentorship and workforce development

An important piece of the enhanced legislation includes additional funding for job training and professional development. Prior to the bill passing, Lillard piloted The Media Mentorship Program to kickstart workforce development. With the infusion of new funding, Washington Filmworks can now allocate $500,000 over the next two years, and $750,000 for the duration of the program until 2030, to advance what they started. The improved program initiative will be focused specifically on supporting rising filmmakers from underrepresented communities to engage in the Washington film industry.

Language Arts_photo credit Annabel Clark.jpeg
Behind the scenes photo from 'Language Arts' (photo by Annabel Clark)

“In a couple of years, all of these programs will be up and running in meaningful ways, and we will be supporting the next generation of Washington filmmakers through the small budget production initiative,” Lillard confidently explains. “We’re going to have more inclusive film sets and funding for different communities with diverse stories. We'll see them on screens, meanwhile making an economic impact on Washington state overall.”

Fueling the economy and aiding new perspectives of storytelling is the heart of Lillard’s mission at Washington Filmworks, “There's no gatekeeper here because we believe in bringing different people into the community. We believe that more diverse film sets make better projects” she says. “We're going to build that and change the dynamics. When you're looking at the 5-to-10-year plan in Washington, we want to be known as a filmmaking community of inclusivity.”

Empowered by her mission and the recently expanded funding, Lillard is rolling up her sleeves with renewed motivation and a greenlight from the state to grow the resources, opportunities, and talent to put Washington on the map as the next rising filmmaking destination in the US.

Related Content

Illinois’ Historic Film Scene Grows to New Heights with Expanded Tax Incentives

For over 100 years Illinois has supported the film industry and thanks to recently passed legislation, the...
EP Newsroom-Netflix logo-Thumbnail

Netflix and Entertainment Partners to Train Next Generation of Production Accountants

Netflix, in partnership with Entertainment Partners, is calling for applicants to participate in a...

Entertainment Partners and Netflix Pledge £500K ($608K) to New PGGB Talent Development Fund

Production Guild of Great Britain (PGGB) Talent Development Fund will support the development and...

Behind the Boom: Why the UK is a Hotspot for Production

Explore the generous industry incentives, talent, and infrastructure available to productions filming in...
Los Angeles Times logo-sq

Hollywood production in U.K. soars to record levels as crews complain of burnout

Spending on film and high-end television shoots reach record-breaking amounts as production activity...
Woman looking at working schedule on laptop

Types of Working Days in the UK HETV Industry – And What They Mean

Key types of working days to be aware of if you’re producing scripted TV in the UK.
Topic: UK
INDUSTRY NEWS_EP at Sundance Film Festival 2023

Entertainment Partners Hosted Incentives Panel at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival

EP's Joe Chianese led an expert panel of film commissioners from across the globe discussing incentives,...
INDUSTRY NEWS_SQUARE_uk flag_big ben

Update on UK Film and TV Tax Relief Consultation

A look at how the UK government aims to modernise existing tax reliefs to better serve film industry...
Topic: UK
EP Blog_SQUARE_London Background Actors

London Productions: Key Things to Consider When Working with Background Actors

Is your production filming in or around London? Don't overlook the special rules that may apply to your...
Topic: UK

Meet the Unit Production Manager

Carrie Holt de Lama ('The Bear') and James McAlister ('Power Book IV:Force') on how the UPM guides the...

Production Incentives Update: February 2023

A look at changing film incentive programs across Illinois, New York, Puerto Rico, and Spain.

Allowable Mileage Changes in 2023

Driving to and from set? Here's what production workers need to know to maximize allowable mileage...

New York Gov. Aims to Boost Film Tax Credits to $700M As New Jersey Rivalry Heats Up

Since 2020, at least 10 productions chose to film in New Jersey or other jurisdictions instead of the...
Joe Francis-EP International-Lyndsay Duthie-PGGB-Alison Small-Netflix

UK Film and TV Industry Gathers at Inaugural PGGB Talent Showcase

More than 250 film and TV industry figureheads, newcomers, students, educators and skills bodies gathered...
EP Newsroom-Thumbnail-PGGB

Entertainment Partners and Netflix pledge £500K ($616K) to new PGGB Talent Development Fund

Entertainment Partners and Netflix have each pledged £250k ($308k) to form a new £500k ($616k) Production...
EP Newsroom-Thumbnail-PGGB

6FT From The Spotlight Wins Inaugural Earl of Wessex Award at PGGB Talent Showcase

Film and TV industry charity 6ft From the Spotlight were awarded The Production Guild of Great Britain’s...

New Union Agreement for Engaging Crew on UK HETV Takes Effect

Pact/Bectu 2023 agreement makes a number of key changes to the terms and conditions for engaging crew.
Topic: UK
Master Series square Thumbnail Pact Bectu Agreement

Understanding the New Pact/Bectu TV Drama Agreement 2023

Your comprehensive overview of the new Pact/Bectu TV Drama Agreement and how key changes will impact...
Topic: UK

Production Tax Incentives Notice: Hawaii

Hawaii Department of Tax (DoTax) issues Tax Advisory notice on tax obligations of persons working in the...
Topic: Alerts
Virtual Production

The UK Invests in Virtual Production as Content Boom Continues

The UK is doubling down on Virtual Production infrastructure; learn how and why they’re leading the charge...
Topic: UK

Hawaii 2023 Loan-Out GET Tax Rule FAQs

Productions seeking a Hawaii tax credit must withhold and report general excise tax (GET) on loan-outs in...

Meet the Music Supervisor

Kasey Truman ('Grey’s Anatomy,' 'The Sandman,' 'Fire Country') on the art of creating cinematic...

Hawaii Production Tax Incentives Notice

Hawaii announces new rules and procedures for reporting and paying loan-out HI General Excise Tax (GET)...
Master Series Budgeting 2023

Budgeting for 2023: Federal, State, and Incentive Considerations

Learn what Federal and State payroll tax changes are coming in 2023, plus tips for setting up your...

UK Production Incentives All Producers Should Know About

Don't miss out on the UK's tax incentives, special programs, and national and regional funding...

Meet the Script Supervisor

A conversation with Rachel Connors Phillippe (‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ ‘Only Murders in the Building’)

Entertainment Partners at 2022 Institute on Entertainment Law and Business

EP's Production Incentives Practice Leader, Joe Chianese, joins panel to educate producers on the wide...

Production Incentives Update: November 2022

Don't miss these US incentive programs, accepting applications now!

US Production Incentives Special Alert: Hawaii

Hawaii amends Motion Picture, Digital Media, and Film Production Income Tax Credit

Preparing for Year End: Focus, Find, and Fix!

EP's payroll tax experts share best practices to identify and resolve payroll tax errors for a smooth year...

Special Report: Entertainment – A Hollywood Education

It’s the best of times and the worst of times for employment in the entertainment/streaming industry.
Changes to UK Pensions Act

Proposed Changes to the UK Pensions Act Could Impact Production Budgets

Reintroduced bill seeks to give UK government the power to extend pensions auto-enrollment to young and...
Topic: UK
UK Gov Growth Plan

Mini Budget; Big Changes: What the UK Government’s Growth Plan Means for Production 

UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announces new Growth Plan (aka the “mini budget”) and a big shake up of the...
Topic: UK
EP Blog_SQUARE_Streaming service

Streaming Services Expand to Latin America and New Audiences

SVOD providers look to Latin America as a gateway to global stories and new subscribers
Western Canada

Production Tax Incentives in Western Canada Every Producer Should Know About

Alberta and Manitoba offer film and TV productions competitive tax incentive programs and versatile...

Film Industry Booms in Buffalo

Western New York draws top filmmakers with expanded tax incentives, new soundstages, and architectural...
Changes to UK right to work checks

Important Changes to UK Right to Work Checks

On September 30, 2022 the UK rules around right to work checks will change. Here’s what productions need...
Topic: UK
EP Blog_SQUARE_New York

NY Convenience Rule Impacts Remote Production Workers and Film Incentives

How remote employee payroll taxes apply to New York-based productions and if an employee’s physical...
EP Blog_SQUARE_1st AC Matt Sanderson

Meet the First Assistant Camera

A conversation with 1st AC Matt Sanderson ('Everything Everywhere All At Once')
EP-Newsroom-Below the Line-Thumbnail-480

Union Roundup: Production Incentives Experts Gather, Hoping Hollywood Can Bring Economic Recovery As We Learn to Live With Covid

Entertainment Partners offered an update on U.S. Production Incentives for 2022. The seminar focused on...
EP Blog_SQUARE_US Expanded Incentives 2022-2

A Record Number of US States Expand Filmmaking Incentives in 2022

Your guide to the latest news in production incentives and film programs to come from the 2022 legislative...
EP Blog_SQUARE_New US Incentives 2022

New US Film Incentives Introduced in Arizona, Indiana, Florida, and West Virginia

As production continues to boom, new tax credits and other programs welcome industry to new locations...
EP Webinar Panelists - US Production Incentives Update

US Production Incentives Update: New and Expanded Programs in 2022

Film commissioners Colleen Bell and Sandy Lighterman, and production executives Jay Roewe and Ashley Rice,...
EP Blog_SQUARE-Atlantic Canada Expands Incentives

Atlantic Canada Expands Film Incentives in 2022

Enhanced production incentive programs attract industry to Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, and...
EP Blog_SQUARE_Penka Kouneva-2

Meet the Composer

A conversation with award-winning orchestrator and composer Penka Kouneva (‘Revenge,’ ‘Pirates of the...
Compliant crew contracting panel-square

Compliant Crew Contracting in the UK

Learn how to ensure your crew contracts are compliant with UK regulations and why the Production Portal is...
Topic: UK

Payroll & Finances

PayrollResidualsSmartStartNew SmartTimeProduction PortalEP On LocationSmartAccountingEP LiveSmartPOCASHétPayPaymaster Rate GuideEP Residency

Manage Multiple Productions

AssetHubSmartHubSmartHub Vault
Subscribe now

Be an industry insider with EP's
newsletters and alerts

LegalPrivacy NoticeSecurity
© 2023 Entertainment Partners. All rights reserved.