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Seattle: Where Women Make Movies

The American Civil Liberties Union recently launched an investigation into gender bias at the major Hollywood film studios.

Seattle's film industry is much smaller than what you'd find in L.A. But where women directors and producers are the exceptions in Hollywood, in Seattle the industry is dominated by women.

Seattle's Office of Film and Music is headed by a woman, Kate Becker. Amy Lillard, a film industry veteran, has directed the state film office, Washington Filmworks, since 2007.

And Seattle's best known filmmakers are female: directors Lynn Shelton and Megan Griffiths, and producer Lacey Leavitt.

Marcie Sillman talks with Lillard and Shelton about what makes Seattle different for women in film.

Interview Highlights

Lynn Shelton on her experience in the film industry

"Nobody ever said to me, ‘You can't do this. You're just a little girl.’ Nobody ever gave me that kind of guff.

"It feels really good to help women come up behind me and it’s true there aren’t enough role models and there aren't enough mentors. That's mainly what I've been trying to do."

Amy Lillard on the difference between Hollywood and Seattle

"When you start in Hollywood you have to start as an assistant. But here in Seattle we have created the industry over the last ten years and those rules just don't exist. It's been very organic and very collaborative. You know the thing that matters most here is how good you are and how good the work is...

"And as I think about Lynn specifically, what I would say about the Hollywood model is like she has moved from being an editor to being a micro budget filmmaker to now directing network series. I challenge anyone in Hollywood to say that she's not a success in the Hollywood definition, right? And she's doing it right here at home....

"If you look at what I do for a living is I sell the state of Washington, and Seattle specifically, as a place to make motion pictures. And when I talk about what's different in Seattle, I talk about it’s something in the water. It's artistic integrity, it's collaboration, it's an entrepreneurial spirit…

"I definitely think that leadership perspective from the woman's perspective affects the way that we choose to do business here.

"What I would say is Hollywood needs to look north up here and take a look at what we're doing right."