Harbor Island Studios formally opens July 1; Two day event held to introduce the new facility
King County Executive Dow Constantine celebrated the opening of Harbor Island Studios on Thursday alongside community partners and members of the film industry. In the first of a two-day event, the grand opening featured a film set, interactive demos, and screenings of short films produced at the facility — highlighting the new studio’s potential.
The 117,000-square-foot studio is King County’s first major public investment in growing the local film industry and bringing back hundreds of family-wage, creative economy job
Once a thriving film hub in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Washington state hasn’t kept up with competition across the U.S. and Canada, with other destinations offering incentives to strengthen their film industries. The opening of Harbor Island Studios provides crews with the infrastructure they need, making the Puget Sound region more competitive for projects.
Many other cities have stepped up their efforts to attract what is a non-polluting industry that has both short and long term benefits from jobs working directly in the industry itself to support for it from event planning and catering to drivers, and others who make the work possible. Los Angeles and New York of course but clearly Vancouver BC (sometimes called "Hollywood North", Atlanta, Orlando and even places like Albuquerque New Mexico are all popular cities for film and television production.
"Harbor Island Studios is part of our commitment to ensuring the creative industry can grow and thrive in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a place to foster new stories and storytellers," said Executive Constantine. "We’re looking forward to welcoming film productions and creative professionals to King County with this new studio, a first-of-its-kind investment for our entire region."
King County crews and contractors transformed the previously unused warehouse into Harbor Island Studios, the site of the former Fisher Flour Mill. The studio can accommodate a wide variety of projects, from feature films to commercials — many of which pay union wages to local carpenters, electricians, prop masters, costume designers, and other trades.
Right now, only one of the large spaces has sound proofing, though the second one is due to start that process soon. Still in the future is the installation of the all important lighting grid and other production studio accoutrements that are found in other locations.
In many other areas the cost of film production is offset by tax incentives offered to film makers which prompts those providing the financing to favor them. But that's a level beyond what King County itself can provide. Some help can come from the City of Seattle in terms of film permits and security for location shooting but the high dollar incentives are most likely to come from the State.
King County Councilmember Joe McDermott said, "There have been conversations for years for that work in Olympia. I think we've doubled down. But the beauty of what King County is doing with this soundstage, is it's building the industry. If we have a film production company coming in, working here and maybe buying some catering.. now we can expect they could come in and hire a bunch of talented local professionals who are based here. It builds the creative economy and builds the case for the state providing those tax incentives.
We are behind the game and it's bold steps like this soundstage that will create the workforce in Seattle and Washington State. This is the moment where the chicken is cracking open the egg."
The first production took place in the spring of 2021, and since then the King County Facilities Management Division has made improvements to the building, including soundproofing the sound stage. The studio includes two sound stages and office space for crews.
Harbor Island Studios officially opens its doors on July 1 for productions.