‘Seattle is back’: New bill aims to grow city’s film, television industry

SEATTLE — Seattle’s film and television industry could be getting a much-needed boost, thanks to new legislation being considered by the City Council.

Councilmember Sara Nelson introduced a bill Wednesday to establish a Seattle Film Commission, which would advise city leaders on how to best support the workers and businesses in the city’s film sector.

“Our film industry is an important part of our economy and our culture — they tell our stories and lift up perspectives from across the City,” said Markham McIntyre, the director of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development. “This new film commission will partner with the City on the best ways we can support the workers and businesses in the film sector, and capitalize on new opportunities the statewide incentive will bring to our region for film production. It’s an exciting development that will help us grow our local film economy and bring more film productions to Seattle.”

The commission would comprise 11 members who are “well-qualified to represent Seattle’s film industry.”

Five members would be appointed by the city council, five by the mayor, and one by the commission itself.

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Many films set in Seattle have been shot in the city, including “Sleepless in Seattle” and “10 Things I Hate About You,” bringing millions of dollars into the local economy and opportunities for workers in the city’s arts and culture sector.

But over the past 20 years, city leaders say Seattle has been outcompeted by other cities, such as Portland and Vancouver, Canada.

“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,” said Nelson. “With this commission we’re sending a message to the film industry — Seattle is back.”

The legislation comes after a bill that increases funding for the state’s Motion Picture Competitiveness Program, which provides incentives and tax credits for production companies that film in the state, was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in March.

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

The bill is scheduled to be voted on by the Council’s Economic Development, Technology and City Light Committee on Sept. 14.

If approved, it would then go to the full Council for a final vote as soon as Sept. 20.