Seattle City Council passes measure to create film commission

SEATTLE — On Tuesday, the Seattle City Council passed legislation to create a film commission, which would aid in strengthening the film and television industry in the city.

The measure that creates the Seattle Film Commission was sponsored by Councilmember Sara Nelson.

The commission will consist of 11 people qualified to represent Seattle’s film industry. Five members will be appointed by the council, five by Mayor Bruce Harrell and one by the commission itself.

While many films have been set in Seattle and shot in the city — including “Sleepless in Seattle,” among others — over the past 20 years, city leaders say Seattle has been outcompeted by other cities, such as Portland and Vancouver, Canada.

“Seattle’s film industry has been asking for this commission for years, and I have made it a priority since day one. Every movie or TV show set in Seattle but filmed elsewhere represents hundreds of jobs lost for our creative workers, millions of dollars not being spent in our local economy, and a lost opportunity to showcase our amazing city to the world. With this commission we’re sending a message to the film industry — Seattle is back,” Nelson said.

“Seattle is a film town through and through. By embracing a collaborative One Seattle approach we can reinvigorate our film industry — creating art and jobs at the same time. This effort will put the right leaders in the room to help storyboard our path forward and drive needed action. I look forward to continuing to work on this issue with Councilmember Nelson, our Office of Economic Development, and a wide array of film stakeholders and community leaders,” said Harrell.

Last year, a 117,000-square-foot soundstage was opened in King County at the former Fisher Flour Mill on Harbor Island.

The creation of the sound stage was “King County’s first major public investment to bring back a once-thriving film industry and hundreds of family wage, creative economy jobs as the region rebounds post-pandemic.”

The facility was purchased by King County 18 years ago and was going to be used to ship solid waste. However, contractors rewired and built soundproof walls, among other work, which cost about $1.5 million.

The passing of the legislation to create a Seattle Film Commission also comes after Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation in March that would increase funding for the state’s Motion Picture Competitiveness Program. It provides incentives and tax credits for production companies that film in Washington.

In response to the passing of the commission, Seattle rapper and songwriter Macklemore said: “Seattle is my home and I love making art here. I’ve filmed ... many of my music videos with exceptional crew and beautiful locations. I’m excited to support Councilmember Sara Nelson’s bill creating a Seattle Film Commission.”