By Mai Ling Slaughter
Seven months ago, Jamie Kline had just graduated from Centralia College and was looking for an experience to guide her into her new path in life. The Centralia resident didn’t have to look far. She heard that C. Tad Devlin, owner on Chehalis’ Northwest Film Projects, was on the search for young talent with an interest in films. “I’ve always wanted to edit” Kline said. “It was perfect timing.”
Since then, she has joined nine other young employees and a hand full of volunteers at Northwest Film Projects, as they create short films and “freebies” for local government organizations, as well as documentaries and other full-length productions, such as “The Immigrant Garden.”This week, employees are focusing on completing a video for United Way of Lewis County, which they taped last week with the help of volunteers the not-for-profit agency provided.
“The whole theme of the video is: who needs the united way” said Debbie Cambell, the agency’s executive director. “And the answer is…you do, because you never know when you might need it.” The 8-10-minute video is intended to help United Way’s supporters under stand who their money is helping when they donate to the agency, which begins it’s annual fundraising campaign Sept.7. This is the first time a Lewis County production company has participated in making the film.
“For me, it’s made it better having Tad involved because he looks at it a totally different way,” Campbell said.” He offered to do this for us, and this is just an incredible gift. “Devlin, who founded Northwest Film Projects last year when he decided to produce the film, “The Immigrant Garden,” praises the work his employees do, especially considering the shoestring budget from which they’re all paid.”They’re basically working for gas money,” he said.
But Devlin admits it’s a situation he was in 20 years ago, before he worked his way into the producer’s chair for Hollywood movies such as “George of the Jungle. “Now, he teaches continuing education classes in editing, script writing and film production, where he met a number of current employees.”I’m trying to empower kids to tell stories,” he said, “and tell them stories that offer a vision of life.”
His new venture focuses more on rural America, and the stories it has to offer to everyone, especially teen-agers, to whom he targets his films.”We’re trying to do films that deal with teen-agers.” Devlin said. “I want to teach teenagers media literacy. So much in the media wows them.”Although only a few of his employees are teen-agers, including 15-year-old Aaron Meyer, those who work for and with Devlin still recognize they have a lot to learn from him.
“It’s worth it to me” said Diana Gaides, who drives to Chehalis twice a week from Enumclaw to work on projects .”We all want to succeed here, and (Devlin) gives us the tools we need to do it.”Employees at Northwest Film Projects have no set schedule, but many of them work more than 40 hours a week, recognizing the value of their work will have a potential future in film making.”When I’m here, the days fly by and I love it,” Kline says. “I would love to be able to make a good living at it.”