Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum announced Tuesday that the 27-year-old one-time college intern, who got her first full-time gig with the 12th and Pike nonprofit in 2013, has taken over as the new executive director.
“Courtney is really good at building relationships, understanding the importance of new ideas, and celebrating the kind of art that draws people together,” said NWFF board president Peter Vogt.
Sheehan’s appointment comes a year after Lyall Bush stepped down as the forum’s previous executive director. Bush, who had been involved with the forum since it opened 20 years ago, now leads the film program at Cornish College of Arts.
The NWFF stands out among film organizations in that it not only screens a wide variety of independent film, but also offers filmmaking classes, rents equipment, and funds local projects. In addition to expanding those elements, Sheehan said she is excited to program more events that mix film with performances and speakers.
“We’re finding people are really responsive to live events that are immersive experiences that they can’t have at home with Netflix, and that are also topical,” she said. One recent example includes the semi-monthly current events comedy show, The Seattle Process, hosted by local comedian Brett Hamil.
The NWFF is hosting a public event Tuesday where Sheehan will be discussing her vision for the organization and soliciting feedback from Seattle’s indie film loving community. Free popcorn provided:
Come have a drink at the Forum and hear from Courtney and Film Forum staff about plans and ideas for the future. And we want to hear about what you want to see in the organization’s next chapter! Plus, we’ll unveil the first batch of films and filmmaker visits curated by guest programmer Gina Basso (San Francisco Museum of Art).
Tell us what you want to see for the future of the Forum:
**Filmmakers and students: what kinds of artist support services and education offerings are most useful to you?
**Audience members: which kinds of movies and programming you want to see more of at the Forum?
**Community leaders: how can the Forum plug in and support larger efforts to make our city a better place?
Got an idea for an event, a production project, a new popcorn seasoning? Come through, have a drink, and share your ideas with us!
NWFF is also gathering feedback through this survey.
Taking helm of the forum will also mean steering it through the rapid changes on Capitol Hill. Holding Sunday matinees, when finding parking is less of a nightmare, is one way the NWFF has responded to changes in the neighborhood. The NWFF will also be participating in this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party by commissioning bands to score a film they select.
In 2015 the NWFF celebrated its 20th anniversary of gathering people on Capitol Hill around a common love of making, watching, and learning about independent film. NWFF traces its origin to the 1995 launch of WigglyWorld Studios, a post-production outfit that got its start on Capitol Hill. The organization quickly grew into other aspects of film, including teaching and screening. Last year,
If you need to take a breather from the ongoing Seattle International Film Festival, Sheehan recommends stopping by NWFF on June 2nd for an epic double feature: An adaptation of the Raiders of the Lost Ark made by three teenage boys and a documentary chronicling the years it took to make it:
Picture, if you will, a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The concept is outlandish enough on its own, ambitious beyond reckoning; now imagine that this project was helmed entirely by teenagers over the course of seven years. Just 12 years old when they began their amateur adaptation of Steven Spielberg’s action classic, Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala and Jayson Lamb reconvened in 2014 to put the project to bed by tying up one remaining loose end: the notorious airplane scene, a duel to the death between Indiana Jones and a musclebound Nazi stooge.
Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made joins the young entrepreneurs, now grown men, as they reinvest in their childhood passion project and film one last scene. Featuring interviews with Eli Roth and John Rhys-Davies, this documentary is a celebration of creative dedication; a tribute to tributes, and an acknowledgement of a genuinely singular achievement in American filmmaking.