Magazine article American Cinematographer

The Twelfth Annual Motion Picture Seminar of the Northwest

Magazine article American Cinematographer

The Twelfth Annual Motion Picture Seminar of the Northwest

Article excerpt

Celebrating a dozen successful years, this friendly forum of film talk in the Northwest has become one of the most vital events of its kind

On June 1 and 2, for the twelfth consecutive year, Seattle hosted the intensive two-day information exchange that is the Motion Picture Seminar of the Northwest. This is the annual event which draws an audience of 900 participants to listen to film professionals who work in every capacity-directing, production, screenwriting, editing, cinematography, make-up, art direction, lab services, suppliers and teachers-from areas as diverse as Santa Monica, Miami and Holland.

As is now traditional, the seminar began on Thursday evening with a sunset dinner and cruise. The speakers-this year there were 26-are especially invited to this kick-off party which is meant to provide an opportunity for participants to socialize with the motion picture professionals who have come to share with northwest audiences their particular insights and expertise.

The Virginia V departed at 6:00 p.m. for a slow cruise around Lake Washington. The bar opened immediately and a three-piece jazz band consisting of trumpet, keyboard and drums began to play. Seattle is a city of mountains, trees, and waterways, and as old and new friends danced and conversed, Mount Rainer, the arboretum and the Olympic mountain range came into view. A catered buffet of salmon and chicken was served on board following a classic sunset. When the boat docked four hours later, darkness had just fallen on a warm June evening.

The seminar properly begins Friday morning at the Seattle Playhouse, on the park-like site of the 1962 World's Fair. A continental breakfast is laid outdoors for the audience to enjoy during registration. Just inside the playhouse lobby, nearly 30 commercial exhibitors are setting up exhibit booths.

Promptly at 9:00 a.m., Keith Cutler, a long-time seminar board member from Vancouver, B.C. and this year's moderator, introduced the first speaker. While it is not possible to summarize the entire two-days' offerings, the following is a distillation of this year's highlights.

Susan Shadburne, the multi-talented producer and writer who was responsible for claymation, voted the 1978 Best Film of the Seminar, described the activities of the "Northwest Media Project," an association unique to the northwest, which distributes 16mm personal film, publishes the Oregon film industry producer's guide, along with other publications, and acts as a clearinghouse for information about regional talent and resources. With offices in Portland, Oregorr and a membership drawn from the entire region, the not-for-profit Media Project has served as fiscal administrator for several grant-funded film projects directed by its various members.

Doug Huse, speaking on "The Role of the Agency Producer," especially emphasized the importance of maintaining a single point of view as a project is impacted variously by writers, legal advisors, the director and cinematographers. Huse screened a number of his own commercial spots including two especially inventive spots for Oldsmobile and Kellogg's Cornflakes. The latter brought a spontaneous applause and Huse remarked wryly that the clients had never actually bought it in the end.

Portland producer Homer Groening, always a popular speaker, talked on "The World of Northwest Filmmaking." Groening is one of those highly fortunate producers whose reputation now enables him to make every film a personal film, no matter who the sponsor. His film clips included a zany potpourri of underwater images, aerial shots, "music" composed of waterdrops and the cry of whales, and Homer's own Zen-like poetic compositions. In a segment from a film about a home for disturbed children, Groening's personal signature, the subjective, voice-over interview was heard:

Groening: Are you involved with surgery or shock?

Children's Home: We don't do either. We do use drugs.

Groening: Do you think it's going to work? …

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