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2nd Annual Seattle Film Career Day connects young people with industry leaders and experts

2nd annual Film Career Day at Seattle Center.
Projection of the words Film Career Day on a screen in McCaw Hall.
2nd annual Seattle Film Career Day in partnership with One Reel and the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), and support from Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) and Office of Economic Development (OED). Photo by Jacqueline Wu.

On Friday, October 25th, the City of Seattle’s Office of Film + Music (OFM), in partnership with One Reel and the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), and with support from Seattle’s Office or Arts & Culture (ARTS) and Office of Economic Development (OED), hosted Seattle’s second annual Film Career Day. Approximately 350 youth ages 13-24, educators, and film industry professionals gathered at the Cornish Playhouse and McCaw Hall at Seattle Center for the day-long event featuring expert panels, networking opportunities with industry professionals, and the new experiential learning element.

ARTS provided transportation for students from Franklin High School and Seattle World School, ensuring that students from diverse backgrounds had the opportunity and access to attend Film Career Day.

“We are excited to have brought young people interested in film-industry careers together with film and content creation professionals for a second year,” said Chris Swenson, the City of Seattle’s Film + Special Events Program Manager. “The future of work in Seattle will rely on today’s youth being prepared for careers in video content, new media, and visual storytelling. We are delighted to continue our partnership with NFFTY and One Reel, and to offer Film Career Day as part of the biggest youth film festival in the country.”

Over 350 participants checking into the 2nd annual Film Career Day at Cornish Playhouse.
Over 350 participants checked into the 2nd annual Film Career Day at Cornish Playhouse. Photo by Jacqueline Wu.

Film Career Day began with NFFTY’s speed networking session, giving attendees the chance to meet panelists and other experts, share their stories and build relationships. Afterwards, the day featured two break-out sessions with panels and experiential learning elements.

Panelists tackled tough questions facing youth who are pursuing a career in film – for example, is film school worth the money and time, or is it better to work up the ladder through on-the-job experience? What makes a story great, and what pitfalls can beginners avoid? What does it take to get hired into a film or media project, and where can one find out about opportunities to gain experience? What is the best way to get your film out there?  

Teens and young adults working with UW Video's two-camera interview film set.
Teens and young adults working with UW Video’s two-camera interview film set. Photo by Chris Swenson.

This year Film Career Day added experiential learning elements provided by the University of Washington (UW) Video and Seattle motion capture company MoCapNow. UW Video lent their technical support to set up a traditional two-camera interview film set. Youth gained a first-hand experience with professional camera and post-production equipment in sound and editing.

Teen's first-hand experience with MoCapNow's motion capturing device.
Teen’s first-hand experience with MoCapNow’s motion capturing device. Photo by Chris Swenson.

MoCapNow is a Seattle-based animation and motion capture company that works in video games and film, with experience working with companies such as Rockstar Games, Microsoft, and Sony Computer Entertainment America. Most notably, MoCapNow did the visual effects for King Kong (2005) and Happy Feet (2007). Youth were able to explore emerging technology in virtual and augmented realty, being on the cutting edge in filmmaking and visual storytelling.  

“If they have access to a computer, they can start to tinker and get into animation and motion capture. Just start making stuff!” said Ander Bergstrom, co-owner of MoCapNow.

Keynote speaker Rayka Zehtabchi and moderator Laila Kazmi sharing their experiences in the film industry.
Keynote speaker Rayka Zehtabchi and moderator Laila Kazmi sharing their experiences in the film industry. Photo by Jacqueline Wu.

This year’s keynote speaker, Rayka Zehtabchi, is the first Iranian American woman and youngest director to win an Academy Award. Her award-winning documentary Period. End of Sentence, focuses on Indian women fighting to end the stigma surrounding menstruation by manufacturing sanitary pads in order to attend school. In the keynote, Zehtabchi shared her story as a young Iranian American woman in the film industry, her career after winning an Academy Award, and advice to young filmmakers.

“There are not a lot of opportunities for people like us (women of color),” said Zehtabchi.

“I am grateful because there are more opportunities to me now than there have been in the past for people like us, but still not a lot. But I think it really starts with you, as an artist, you go out and create your own opportunity. When someone is not giving it to you, go out and go make your film or go out and collaborate with other filmmakers like you.”    

During lunch, attendees also had the chance to browse through a table fair hosted by local schools and organizations including MoPOP, and Three Dollar Bill Cinema, to learn about part time jobs and internship opportunities and chat with current and former film and animation students.

“I just heard about Film Career Day and I just thought it was a really good opportunity to elevate some voices,” said Dayana Capulong, 23, Film Career Day attendee. “In this specific industry, it’s really important to have diverse sources of power to make complex and simple, but beautiful narratives for those that really don’t get that representation. I was here during the networking and was really trying to think about the impact of the media that we’re a part of, because we’re handcrafting stories about real people and that goes on to have a ripple effect about peoples’ beliefs systems and actions towards injustice and that’s why this is a real important industry.”

The Office of Film + Music thanks all of the partners, panelists, teachers, and volunteers who made the second year such a success, and looks forward to making Film Career Day even bigger and better next year! If you have ideas for things you’d like to see at 2020’s event, shoot us an email at