Local Filmmakers Making History

Film Forum instructor Bernard Mann talks about the genesis and development of a recent local film project for MOHAI’s “History Is _____” competition…

An historical photo of the Seattle Center, part of the writer's film project.

A lot of people might have seen the Film Forum marquee passing by on Capitol Hill, or heard of the organization, but the extent that it is a hub to foster filmmaking is something everyone should know.

Shortly after I started volunteering in the Film Forum office, I met a fellow volunteer, Matt Shannon.  After some months, Matt and I got to know each other, and he shared a film he had made for a contest; I liked the production values and we struck up an acquaintance.

Fast forward . . .  Matt needed assistance in editing a short narrative film project, and I lent my experience to help him out, as I was an Apple Certified Pro in Final Cut Pro 7.  In the process, we got to know each other well, and we learned each others strengths and weaknesses. Later on, we decided to try out working together on a project for a contest, the Next 50 Project. While we didn’t win the contest, or make any fireworks, we got a good feel for how we worked together, and agreed to work together again in the future.

Fast forward. . .We saw the poster for MOHAI’s “History is ____“ contest displayed around Capitol Hill and decided to make a short film together, just for the contest. After bouncing around ideas, we settled on one that came about as the result of another connection at the Film Forum, a conversation with fellow volunteer Ryan Davis.  Matt and I worked together on the film, Matt doing most of the research and writing while I took care of the technical side of the cinematography and editing.  We rented production equipment from the Forum to shoot an interview with a subject for the project. Dave Hanagan, the Studio Director mentioned that although the Film Forum started out with “meager beginnings, when we had just a box full of super 8 cameras,” the facility has become a much more “robust production studio, serving a variety of film projects in our community.”

After gathering the footage, we used the workshop room and editing lab to assemble the project, for both recording the voice over, and as a editing working space to discuss and piece together the project. The Film Forum was also a place for us to reach out for feedback at various stages in the process, such as from Jake Warga, the documentary instructor.

Some of the previous houses on-site at the Seattle Center

In making the film, Matt and I set out to tackle the story, “What was there before the Seattle Center,” and investigate some of the controversy I had heard was part of the creation of the world’s fair. In digging up archive news articles and researching photographs, we found a lot more to the story than we pictured. We started at MOHAI and found photos of dilapidated buildings and stately houses in the previous spot of Seattle Center.  At the Seattle School District, Aaren Purcell helped us find photos of the Warren Avenue School that was torn down for the fair.  She also helped us find school board minutes of the legal challenge to tear down the school.  We settled on Transformation, as after we had interviewed Kim Turner , (who Michael Herschensohn, of the Queen Anne Historical Society put us in contact with), that progress can be worth it, and that the change in the end, was positive.

After entering the film, “History is Transformation” (Film 6, 4 mins) into the contest, and seeing the list of entries by competitors, I was pleased to see two of my Final Cut students had entered as well, June Nho Ivers (Film 4), and Jessika Satori  (Film 7).  June says on taking Northwest Film Forum’s FCP X class, “I love using Final Cut Pro X. It has really expanded my knowledge and ability.”  And now she is a regular contributor to City Arts online as well! A volunteer I used to work with in the office, Dalyce Lazaris, is also an entrant to the contest, “History is You.”

Working with Matt on this project evolved naturally, as it has for many other individuals who have got involved with the the Film Forum. From my experience, if people are interested in the cinema arts and interested in meeting, working together and learning, the first place to start is at Northwest Film Forum.

Bernard Mann is an Apple Certified Pro, Level 2 in Final Cut Pro X.  He currently is an instructor in FCP X at Northwest Film Forum. He is also certified in Final Cut Pro 7 and has been an Apple user since the early days of video on computers. He loves to be able to share his knowledge of Apple’s video editing software. He graduated from NYU, majoring in TV/Film.

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