King County announces Harbor Island Studios; former Fisher Flour warehouse is now soundstages
King County Executive Dow Constantine unveiled a new film production facility at the former Fisher Flour Mill on Harbor Island.
The 117,000 square-foot sound stage is King County’s first major public investment to bring back a once-thriving film industry and hundreds of family wage, creative economy jobs as the region rebounds post-pandemic.
“We transformed this vast warehouse into a creative space with stages, sets, and shops to put hundreds of people to work in good, union jobs making films right here in King County,” said Executive Constantine.
“This is about making a smart public investment to help this creative industry grow and thrive. We don't want Vancouver or Portland - or Atlanta - to keep serving as Seattle’s stand-in. We’re ready to spotlight the amazing talent of our region."
In the hulk of a massive waterfront warehouse, King County transformed an underused industrial space into two sound stages that will boost local film production and make the region competitive for future projects.
King County crews and contractors re-wired and built interior sound-proof walls in the former Fisher Flour Mill, purchased by King County 18 years ago to potentially ship solid waste. The work, which cost about $1.5 million, has already attracted a creative economy tenant.
A Hollywood episodic production is preparing to use the space as a sound stage, hiring hundreds of local crew members with family-wage jobs.
As part of his 2019 Creative Economy Initiative, Executive Constantine called for supporting the regional film industry by reducing film permit fees and timelines on King County property, and seeking new ways to promote regional productions.
Executive Constantine convened his Film Advisory Board to work with industry veterans to craft the best strategies. The Advisory board quickly identified the need for a regional sound stage to compete with Portland, Vancouver, B.C., and other cities and states.
Attention turned to the former Fisher Flour Mill on Harbor Island.
Film production is classified light industrial for zoning, and a production facility is best suited to be in a commercial or industrial area. Harbor Island’s location is ideal – close to the urban center, but relatively isolated.
The condition of the Fisher Flour Mill warehouse, the height of the ceilings, and the integrity of the structure all make it perfect for long-term film production use.
The production currently using the sound stage wishes to remain anonymous. The film industry typically seeks to downplay its presence in a community for a variety of reasons, including security and marketing.
The goal of King County Harbor Island Studios is to create the infrastructure needed to land a wide variety of projects – from feature films to commercials – which pay union wages to carpenters, electricians, prop masters, costume designers, and other trades.
“We transformed this vast warehouse into a creative space with stages, sets, and shops to put hundreds of people to work in good, union jobs making films right here in King County,” said Executive Constantine. “This is about making a smart public investment to help this creative industry grow and thrive here in King County. We don't want Vancouver or Portland - or Atlanta - to keep serving as Seattle’s stand-in. We’re ready to spotlight the amazing talent of our region."
King County was once a thriving hub for the film industry. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the region was highly competitive, with many feature films shot here, including “Sleepless In Seattle,” “Assassins,” “Fabulous Baker Boys,” “Say Anything,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” “The Vanishing,” “My Own Private Idaho,” “Singles,” and many more. “Captain Fantastic” was shot in 2016.
The Seattle Times reported on April 1 that Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh will be filming his next project, a thriller called “KIMI,” here in May.
The last major episodic television production in Washington was Northern Exposure. This production set up shop in a warehouse in Redmond and produced six seasons starting in 1990. After generating more than $50 million in in-state revenue for each season, Northern Exposure wrapped in 1995, and this region has not seen an episodic production of that scale since.
Executive Constantine’s Film Advisory Board:
Peter Barnes, Operations Director, Formosa Interactive Seattle
Tony Becerra, Director, DGA
Vicky Berglund-Davenport, Location Manager/Producer, LMGI
Buzzy Cancilla, Commercial Producer
Cheo Hodari Coker, Producer/Showrunner/Writer
Cynthia Geary, Actor
Megan Griffiths, Director
Susan LaSalle, Director/Producer, DGA
Lacey Leavitt, Producer/Director
Eddie Rehfeldt, Producer/Location Manager/Studio Developer
Nasib ‘CB’ Shamah, Producer/Director
Dow Constantine, King County Executive
Kate Becker, King County Creative Economy & Recovery Director
Tony Wright, Director of King County Facilities Management
Shannon Braddock, King County Executive Deputy Chief of Staff
Kelli Carroll, Director of Special Projects, Office of the Executive
Mark Zandberg, King County Real Estate Film Liaison
Bryan Hague, King County Director of Real Estate
Ashton Allison, King County Economic Development/Economic Recovery Director
Aaron Bert, King County Deputy Director Facilities Management
Shireen Hayre, Facilities Dispatch & Customer Service
Why is county government investing in the entertainment industry....leave that to Hollywood and private investors...
Perhaps it will also support some non-Union work, as it has been hard for many to find enough work to maintain a union membership.
This as it is in its current state, should likely bring tens of millions of dollars into the Seattle and King County region. Beyond the immediate several hundred jobs, it’s a great economic boost of outside dollars being spent directly into the local economy.
Bravo Executive Constantine! Kudos and Thank you for your rock solid belief in the hardworking people of the creative and filmmaking industry. We won’t disappoint. Huge shout out to Kate Becker Creative Economy and Recovery Director for your continued dedication, efforts and support!
It's about time Seattle got back into promoting film making in our region. I'm so tired of seeing fake Seattle scenes in movies. Seattle is my hometown and I want to see it in films. Thank you.
This is a real gamechanger! Thank you KIng County! As a union actor, I look forward to the potential work in the county that I reside in.
Kudos to real investment in assets.
Good to see Government enthusiasm again in supporting tourism marketing. Isn’t that location directly under the approach and departure of both SeaTac and Boeing Field? It’s technically a good idea but you’re going to have to build a new roof over that building.
"Why is county government investing in the entertainment industry?"
Because it's been necessary for decades, and should've been done years ago. Do you know how many actors (and TV/film crew people) live in King County? Thousands -- all of whom have been waiting patiently for the government to offer incentives to filmmakers to come to Seattle to shoot.
For once, I know a secret! I actually know which episodic production is being made in this new studio. However, I’ll keep my mouth (and typing fingers) shut... for now!!