With the cut of a piece of 35mm film, Burien’s new Film Office fades in to action


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Story by Scott Schaefer
Photos by Michael Brunk

It all started with this little note I posted on a board at the ‘Economic Development Dialog’ meeting hosted by the City of Burien on Sept. 27, 2014 (click image to see larger version):

BurienFilmOfficeSTART

The hands you see in the photo – taken at the city’s Economic Development Dialog meeting on Sept. 27, 2014 – belong to Dan Trimble, Burien’s Economic Development Manager. This note was just one of many ideas shared by residents, but this is the story of how it has come to fruition. Photo by Scott Schaefer.

It took 229 days for that humble germ of an idea to fade in to reality – and on Thursday night, May 14, 2015 – a sizeable, energetic crowd of local Artists, Filmmakers, businesspeople and residents gathered at the Tin Theater to officially launch the City of Burien’s Film Office with a ribbon cutting. Instead of ribbon though, a segment of real 35mm film was used (it was from a movie trailer for the 2012 Bill Murray film “Hyde Park on the Hudson.”).

Like most ideas, it took a bit of time for it to fully gestate…BUT…I am excited to have been a part of the creation of this new Film Office, which is intended to encourage filmmaking in Burien, and thus, help our city’s economies, both financial and artistic.

And credit should also go to Andrew Desmond, an Intern for the city who did a lot of the work, including the website.

And there’s good reason this new creation lives under the umbrella of Economic Development – according to FilmWorks, the Washington State film office, for every $1 spent on a production, $10 comes back to a community that hosts filmmakers.

As a personal example, when I Directed “The Maury Island Incident” in the summer of 2013, we had a crew of around 40 people working (and spending their money) in Burien, when we converted the Tin Room Bar into a 1940s-era diner (we shot a scene where the original “Man In Black” intimidates the story’s protagonist, Harold Dahl). Most of these Seattle-based crew members spent more than just that one day in town though, as some scouted locations, prepared the set, built props, did production design and much more to prepare for the day of shooting. The budget for this film was $54,000, and almost all of it was spent on production and employment costs in the south end.

Of course, when we did our shoot we also closed down SW 152nd Street and brought in an old 1947 Buick to park in front of the Tin Room. The city looked cool, the sun was shining, and all was right with Burien’s filmmaking gods (meaning we didn’t go into overtime!).

The city was incredibly cooperative, and the permit fees for Burien are very competitive. Plus, don’t get me started on the availability of parking, no meters or pay lots, the abundance of amazing locations, natural beauty, lack of airport noise, etc. – can you tell I’m a fan of making films in our city?

“Martin Scorsese once said ‘Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame, and what’s out,'” Trimble said at the event. “The launch of the City of Burien Film Office is merely one frame in an unfolding story line about the arts in Burien.  There is much more outside of the frame and much more of our story to be told.”

“When it comes to economic development, one tried and true strategy is to build on what already exists in a community – to strengthen and grow your existing talent,” Trimble added. “Burien has long supported the arts but our emerging filmmaking community stood out as a unique opportunity for growth. By raising awareness of our expanding filmography, we hope to show our appreciation for those that have already found Burien to be an attractive location and let others know that we are a welcoming location for visual arts.”

Here are photos from the event courtesy Michael Brunk (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):

FilmOfficeRibbonCutAnim

Intern Andrew Desmond holds one end of the film as Dan Trimble and Scott Schaefer cut it. Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

Filmmakers, Artists, businesspeople, residents and others packed the Tin Theater. Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

Scott Schaefer speaks while wielding real, large – and yes – sharp scissors. Luckily, no injuries were reported. Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

Dan Trimble spoke about what a Film Office will do for the city. Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

John White, who co-created the Burien Film Festival (with Shelli Park) spoke about the next iteration of it, coming in September. Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

A large crowd packed into the Tin Theater to celebrate local film. Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

Here’s some info about permitting:

Filming in Burien – Need to Know Resources for the filmmaker
Whether you have a steadfast plan or just an idea, we encourage you to reach out to the City.  This office is committed to helping prospective filmmakers find the information they need to start filming at City locations.

Permit information:

  • Permits in Burien are needed in 2 situations:
    • If the filming is expected to block the public right-of-way, a Right-of-Way (ROW) use permit will be required.  ROW use permits are administered by the Public Works Department and more information can be found at www.burienwa.gov/documentcenter/home/view/160
    • If the filming will exceed a total of 2 days per calendar year, it may require a Temporary Use Permit.  Temporary Use Permits are administered by the Community Development Department and more information can be found at http://www.burienwa.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/708
    • If you have questions regarding these permits, please call Burien’s Community Development Department, (206) 248-5510.

Here’s a collection of Tweets for #burienfilm from the event:

To access the city’s Film Office, click here: http://burienwa.gov/film

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