Kristen Smith, left, Winthrop Chamber of Commerce marketing manager, and Paula Christen look on as Krys Karns of Washington Filmworks gets a shot on Riverside Avenue. Photo by Don Nelson

Kristen Smith, left, Winthrop Chamber of Commerce marketing manager, and Paula Christen look on as Krys Karns of Washington Filmworks gets a shot on Riverside Avenue. Photo by Don Nelson

Washington Filmworks reps like what they see here

By Don Nelson

The Methow Valley could become more than a bit player when movie and advertisement makers “cast” sites for their film and video productions, according to representatives of Washington Filmworks who toured the valley last week.

Executive Director Amy Lillard and Production Services Coordinator Krys Karns told the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce that they were impressed by the valley’s possibilities after two days of sightseeing and checking out potential locations.

“I was in awe,” Karns said.

Washington Filmworks is a nonprofit formed by state Legislature action in 2006. Its mission is to encourage and facilitate growth in the film and video production industry in Washington state. The organization offers support including location scouting, logistics planning and financial incentives.

Advertisements have been shot in the valley before by companies such as REI and Eddie Bauer, and local filmmakers such as Sage Bannick and now Terry Hunt have used the Methow as a backdrop for their projects.

Amy Lillard, left, and Krys Karns of Washington Filmworks toured the Methow Valley last week. Photo by Don Nelson

Amy Lillard, left, and Krys Karns of Washington Filmworks toured the Methow Valley last week. Photo by Don Nelson

It’s not such a stretch to see the valley as an attractive setting, Lillard said. “We see a ton of production work outside of Seattle and Spokane,” she said.

That doesn’t mean that local residents should necessarily expect Hollywood film crews to flood the place.

“The real opportunity is in still photo work, commercial work and reality TV,” Lillard said. “Making commercial work viable is a huge priority.”

“The economic impact can be substantial,” Lillard continued. Affected businesses include lodging operators, restaurants, gas stations and retail stores and construction companies.

“What’s important is that it works for the community,” Lillard said.

Karns said her role is to help work out the dozens of details that come with any type of production, including such things as getting permission to film on private property and permits to use public property.

The questions a community needs to consider, she said, include: What kind of project is it? What are the production dates? What is the project’s budget and is it fully financed? How many cast and crew will be involved? Who is attached to the project (such as known directors, producers or stars)?

Karns said that local businesses interested in possibly providing services to production crews can go to www.washingtonfilmworks.org and enter their contact information in a data base.

According to the website, Washington Filmworks has helped bring more than 90 projects to Washington state since 2007, pumping about $242 million into the state’s economy.