The film community in Bellingham is growing, and its success is in no small part thanks to Avielle Heath. She is a producer and organizer working in a chaotic creative world, making sure films see their day in the cinema.
Heath started making films after taking an influential film production course at Fairhaven College. She started making short films with her friends and entering local film competitions. She became a volunteer production assistant, where she took on extra wardrobe and leadership responsibilities. Hand Crank Films, a local film production company, noticed Heath’s initiative and hired her.
As a producer, Heath wears other hats as needed, including art director, casting director, costumer, set dresser, and production designer. “I love creating new atmospheres, new environments. That’s why I like production design,” Heath said. On set, Heath knows what needs to happen next, whether it’s splattering fake blood on zombies, securing the proper permits to shoot on location, or any other easy-to-forget but essential task. “I’m obsessive about organization,” Heath said. “You’re more creative when you’re organized. Producers can be the most creative on set because they constantly have to problem-solve.”
One problem Heath wanted to solve: While she noticed many talented local filmmakers, there was no centralized film community in town. In July 2012, she founded Bellingham Film Festivals, which would later become Bellingham Film. “Bellingham Film was created out of frustration,” Heath said. “What happens to all those films after they get made? There wasn’t one central location for all the information.”
Bellingham Film gathered resources, such as workshops, equipment rentals, and screening opportunities, and put them all in one place. The organization also runs a monthly writer’s studio and film-mixer with guest speakers. Bleedingham, a horror short film festival, was the first festival Bellingham Film created, and its premiere sold out.
One of the goals of Bellingham Film is to build a film culture so strong that filmmakers wouldn’t have to leave Washington. Heath is a mover and shaker, but she is passionate about staying and working in Washington. “I’ve never been to L.A. I never want to go to L.A.,” Heath said. “Other cities don’t have the mountains, the ocean, the relaxed environment. I like being able to come home to beautiful Bellingham.”