Seattle Film Summit: Conversation with Producer Ben Andrews

Filmmaker and producer, Ben Andrews says it’s time for Washington State to get some film industry attention.


Natalia Megas is a Washington, D.C. freelance journalist who turns biographies and ripped-from-the-headlines narratives into screenplays that have won awards and placed in contests like Austin Film Festival, Sundance Labs, and PAGE International. You can follow her on Twitter @DameWriter.

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Filmmaker and producer, Ben Andrews says it’s time for Washington State to get some film industry attention.

“Seattle will be an international hub in the next five years. We’re feeling it on all fronts,” he says.

Ben Andrews

Now in its fourth year, the Seattle Film Summit will bring a spotlight to the state on December 10, 2017 in Renton, WA and promises perks for everyone from actors to filmmakers to screenwriters.

Andrews, who is also an actor, is the brainchild behind the Summit but producer Lorraine Montez, is the one who took it to the next level he says.

“Last year he and I got together and decided to re-tool the summit based on the need we were seeing in the area for connections with contacts with film a curators that were not happening here,” says Montez.

Montez is also the force behind the “Abundance Story Playground,” an interactive event that is included in the Summit. The event is for digital content creators— writers, directors, actors and audience members – “who want to play and create in a whole new way,” says Andrews.

“We disrupt the writing process so that writers leave Playground with stronger characters, scenes, and stories, actors have a better sense of quickly deepening a character, and be seen by content creators, and audience members contribute opinions and suggestions about the story and the script,” he says.

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Events slated for the summit include pitch sessions with Los Angeles industry professionals, one-on-one meetings with distributors, and various panels with local and L.A. professionals.

Script Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Andrews about the details on the upcoming summit.

How did you get involved in the film industry?

I was raised until the age of 27 in a fundamental Christian religion. Our whole mission was ministry. We weren’t allowed to pursue individual passions. Whether that be sports, music, arts, etc. In my freshman year of high school, I took a drama class. Something came alive in me. I secretly tried out for a play and got the lead. It was a whole new world for me. Of course, after that I left it all behind. But the seed was there. Every time I watched a movie, I felt my heart pumping. Finally, at the age of 30, freshly married, I turned to my wife and said, “Honey, I think I need to do something about the rest of my life. I don’t think I’ll be happy unless I do this.” That was 12 years ago.

What’s special about the Seattle Film Summit?

I started the Summit as a grass roots endeavor a few years ago. For the first years it was about bridging the gaps between our Pacific Northwest film silos. This year is special because we’ve revamped the Summit to address the gap between Pacific Northwest content generators and the larger worldwide industry.

Last year, when Lorraine Montez and I sat to talk about the Summit, it became apparent that there was a massive gap we could fill. Something that hasn’t been addressed by other community leaders in the local film industry. So, we revamped the Summit to create a geo-targeted, focused event where we would directly connect content generators from the Pacific Northwest with decision-making content curators with the resources and connections to get the content to audiences.

We’re bringing in distributors and other industry professionals for what we’re calling our miniature American Film Market. It’s time the film industry come to us and we’ve built a coalition of the right partners to make it happen.

We’re also extremely fortunate to be holding the Summit this year at the Hyatt’s new, mega-million-dollar Northwest crown jewel, Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport.

What can screenwriters expect to get out of it? 

We’ve got an amazing pitch panel where writers can pitch their scripts – great practice and could even get some interest from our pitch panel or other filmmakers.

We’ve also got some impressive filmmakers, writers and other professionals coming from Los Angeles that will provide screenwriters with once-in-a-lifetime networking opportunities.

There’s also the amazing and unique “Abundant Story Playground,” which disrupts the writing process in a productive way using a moderator, actors and the audience so that writers come out with drafts much further along than they would likely find on their own or with a writing partner or group. Playground is also a great way for actors to be seen by filmmakers who can cast them. We’re also reaching out to local casting directors to attend.

Finally, we’ve got several “speed seminars” being presented by local industry professionals and organizations, including Northwest Screenwriters Guild.

Seattle Film Summit Panel

What’s the Abundant Story Playground?

An interactive event for digital content creators – writers and directors, others in filmmaking, actors and audience members – who want to play and create in a whole new way! We disrupt the writing process so that writers leave Playground with stronger characters, scenes, and stories, actors have a better sense of quickly deepening a character (and be seen by content creators), and audience members contribute opinions and suggestions about the story and the script.

During this interactive event winning scripts will be broken down through Abundant Story Playgrounds’ writing disruption immersion process.

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Your pitch panel will include Los Angeles and northwest professionals—can you give us a taste of who will be there? 

We’re in final discussion to lock some very high-level, well-known names that we can’t talk about quite yet. But we’re happy to share and celebrate the folks we have locked and can talk about to date. You can also check them all out on our website at seattlefilmsummit.com.

  • Anatol Chavez, director of acquisitions for Synergetic TV
  • Michael Repsch,vice-president of sales and distribution for Breaking Glass Films
  • Producer’s representative and author of The Guerrilla Rep, and American Film Market Success on No BudgetBen Yennie.
  • Korey Pollard, DGA, assistant director, Water World
  • Jonathan Keasey, WGA, writing team for Will Smith’s My Wife Hates Your Wife
  • Christopher Lockhart, story editor at William Morris Endeavor (WME) Entertainment, the world’s largest talent agency
  • Gary Glushon, VP of Production for Fundamental Films
  • Brant Boivin, screenwriter and producer
  • Jonathan H. Keasey, screenwriter and visiting Professor of Screenwriting at Seattle University

What are “content generators,” apart from screenwriters and filmmakers?

In our case for the Summit, we consider a content generator anyone who has an amazing story to tell across any type of digital platform. But this isn’t the place to go if you are a game developer.

The Summit isn’t just for content generators. It’s for everyone in the industry who wants to learn more, network more, and have a critical role in the development of a better, stronger, more robust industry in our state, and in the Pacific Northwest.

And the perks for everyone attending are strong. From actors and filmmakers getting seen, hired, and cast, to properties acquired or potential investor best practices identified and put into practice – the Summit has something for everyone.

Why do you want to shine the light on Washington State?

From population and development growth to the technology, gaming, music industry expansions. We have thousands of talented digital content creators. People who are employed by Amazon, Microsoft, Google. And don’t want to move to LA to make it. I want the Pacific Northwest to be the next mecca for digital content creation. More importantly, I don’t want that to be based upon a film incentive. I want to tell a different story. A new story.

How has the film scene in the state evolved over the years?

In our humble opinion, that’s part of the problem. It really hasn’t. Current industry leaders haven’t been able to influence legislators to increase the tax incentives, but continue to focus only on that. This region may never have massive tax incentives, but perhaps the industry can be motivated in other ways.

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Where’s it headed?

That depends on whom you ask. But we know where we envision it heading and that’s why the Summit exists.

As a producer, I assume you read many scripts. What piece of advice can you give to aspiring screenwriters about their screenplays and career?

Remember this creative world is a marathon, NOT a sprint. Balance your life. Be steady in your pace. You have a lot of rejection to face. But each rejection will build you. Have patience and grace with yourself. And most importantly, stay true to yourself. Much like all industries. You will be told every step of the way what you MUST and CAN’T do to succeed. NEVER allow yourselves to believe these as absolute truths. You have one thing that sets you apart. Your unique soul. No one can duplicate that. Keep true to it. Write with YOUR truths, your authenticity. Stick to that and after a short or long road, success will come to you.

The Seattle Film Summit will be held at the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport, 1053 Lake Washington Blvd. North, Renton, WA.

More articles by Natalia Megas

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Natalia Megas

About Natalia Megas

Natalia Megas is a Washington, D.C. freelance journalist who turns biographies and ripped-from-the-headlines narratives into screenplays that have won awards and placed in contests like Austin Film Festival, Sundance Labs, and Page International. Inspired by real people with extraordinary stories whose moral shade isn’t always black or white, Natalia infuses her European upbringing and the colorful personalities she’s met along the way with her sleuth-like ability to find just about anything on the internet. When she’s not writing, she’s screening films for fests such as AFI, an experience that keeps reminding her why the first 10 minutes of a story is always the most important. You can follow her on Twitter @DameWriter.

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