More About Christy Karras

Advice for aspiring filmmakers

I got an email recently from a man in Seattle who’d read a story I wrote in the Seattle Times about the mutually supportive nature of the Seattle film community. He said his son was a budding filmmaker who had already set up a home-grown studio, complete with sound-editing equipment and a green screen, in the family garage. He wondered how he could get in touch with some of these talented and generous filmmakers.

After I wrote my reply, I thought this could be good information to anyone wanting a start in the biz. It applies specifically to Seattle, but some of the general advice would work for any community with even a small film scene:

(Cinematographer Benjamin Kasulke, one of Seattle's most generous and talented filmmakers, shoots a scene from "The Off Hours," directed by the equally talented and generous Megan Griffiths.)

Your son sounds like quite a prodigy! Definitely, most filmmakers get experience by volunteering on sets (and much of the work on these small-budget films is done by volunteers who just want to help out but who also get valuable experience). So he’s on the right track.

The filmmakers I profiled are spending a lot of their time promoting their latest work, taking it around the world through the film-festival circuit, so they aren’t currently filming. They all have some of the same organizations in their backgrounds, though, and I’d look at those places first (those filmmakers are still also closely affiliated with those organizations).

One is the Northwest Film Forum. It offers classes and workshops, but it also does all kinds of other events – screenings, panel discussions – and is always looking for volunteers, who then get discounts on those workshops and such. If he spends even a little time at these events, he’ll eventually run into all the people I’ve written about. Several of them are board members.

Many of the region’s filmmakers went to the Seattle Film Institute, which offers certificate and undergraduate-level courses but which also hosts shorter workshops.

Finally, there’s Washington Film Works, the state office for film promotion. It’s geared toward those already in the business, but it includes resources for those just getting in. There’s even a section on the website with advice on how to do that:

Washington Film Works also keeps track of ongoing productions, both artistic and commercial, in the area.

There’s also a group on Facebook called Seattle Area Filmmakers (under “public figure”) that posts news about events in the film community. My guess is that if your son went there and posted on the wall, indicating that he wanted to volunteer on a set, he’d get some responses.

Many individual filmmakers also have Facebook pages, and although they might be choosy as to whom they brought on as “friends,” they may be willing to answer a message from an enterprising young person.

I hope this helps. Best of luck to your son. It really is a remarkable community here, and those who work in it love what they do.



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