Monday, March 20th, 2017
Feel the Concert: Bellingham Music Film Festival in April
Lorraine Wilde

Bellingham is home to a thriving music and film community. Throughout the year, this creative group hosts a number of Bellingham film festivals.

April 6 – 8, 2017, the Bellingham Music Film Festival will present a collection of music videos, documentaries, and narrative pieces by regional, national, and student filmmakers from around the world. This annual event (now in its second year) is a collaboration between Bellingham’s¬†Pickford Film Center¬†(PFC), Make.Shift Art Space, and the Western Washington University (WWU) New Media Design Program.

A music video produced by Bellingham-based video production company, Talking to Crows.


The idea of a music film festival was born in the mind of WWU Associate Professor Kacey Morrow, a faculty member in the Design Department of the College of Fine and Performing Arts. In the past, she herself had also been a filmmaker and submitted her work to festivals. One of her short experimental films was screened at both the Seattle International Film Festival and the Atlanta Film Festival. Morrow continues to work in film. She is currently working on an interactive documentary film tentatively titled Slow-Fi, about analog photography and the community across the nation still using this ever-changing medium.

In 2015, Morrow was¬†on the board of Make.Shift Art Space in Bellingham, a DIY art and music venue dedicated to innovative, alternative art and music. While brainstorming community fundraising event opportunities that would support the home for painters, printmakers, photographers, sculptors, musicians, the idea first came together. With the help of Make.Shift’s¬†Jessica Harbert and Marketing Manager Lindsey Gerhard of PFC, The Bellingham Music Film Festival was born in April 2016.

Bellingham Music Film Festival Dark Darkness Mordecai's

From “Falling,” a song from Episode II, Mordecai’s Masquerade of Season Zero of the Dark Darkness web series.

In its first year, filmmakers from as far as Los Angeles, CA, Edmonton, Alberta, and the U.K. attended the 3-day event filled with film screenings, receptions, and live music performances.

Building on their success, festival coordinators have simplified their approach and added help from Festival Coordinator Mikayla Nicholson and Music Director Tyson Ballew. Their goal has been to keep the festival accessible and affordable at under $25 per person for the entire weekend of activities. Their Official Selection and schedule were announced in early March.

The festival has strong regional representation across each event including a number of films produced by students of WWU and Seattle universities. Festival coordinators were blown away by the student films submitted including one produced by a 16-year-old from Germany. Two feature films from Norway will also be presented, including Every Song a Story, set against a backdrop of the region’s beauty and about preventing the extinction of a native genre of music and its place in their culture.

Every Song a story Bellingham Music Film Festival Whatcom

From the feature film, Every Song a Story.

Opening Night at Pickford Film Center, April 6

Opening Night, Thursday, Apr. 6, 6:30 p.m. at PFC will showcase a screening of music videos from as far away as Los Angeles, Berlin, and Montreal as well as the Documentary Feature, Contemporary Color, about a 2015 event staged by the legendary David Byrne that showcased the creativity of the performance art form, Color Guard.

Music Video Night at Make.Shift, April 7

Friday, April 7 is Music Video Night, presented free at Make.Shift during Downtown Bellingham Parnternship’s¬†Art Walk from 7 – 9 p.m. A mixture of student, local, national, and international music videos will be presented. Many of the filmmakers themselves as well as the bands featured in the videos will be on-hand to celebrate. Included are videos from ranging from¬†Seattle, Ashland, and Los Angeles to France, Sweden, Hungary, and Australia.

Demon Eye Mikah Washburn Bellingham Music Film Festival Whatcom County

From Demon Eye, a student-produced music video by Mikah Washburn.

Screenings at Pickford Film Center, April 8

The final day of the festival, Saturday, April 8, will include additional screenings at PFC of features and music videos beginning at 1 p.m. and a screening of the Award-Winning films at 6 p.m. Monetary awards will be given in the categories of Best Feature, Best Short, Best Music Video, and People’s Choice across all categories.

The feature film, Torrey Pines, directed by Seattle filmmaker Clyde Petersen, will screen on Saturday. This stop-motion animated film is based on the trans director’s true story, coming-of-age as a queer punk in early 1990’s Southern California, kidnapped and raised by a schizophrenic single mother who takes him on a cross-country odyssey.

Torrey Pines stop-motion film Clyde Petersen Bellingham Music festival whatcom

From Torrey Pines, a feature-length stop-motion film by Clyde Petersen.

After Party at Sylvia Center for the Arts, April 8

The evening will top off with an 8:30 p.m. After Party at nearby Sylvia Center for the Arts with live music performances by Briana Marela, Cumulus, and I Love You Avalanche.

The festival received generous support from the City of Bellingham and all profits from the events will support the non-profits Make.Shift and PFC.

For more film, arts and music in Bellingham, see the full list of Lorraine’s articles.

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About the Author:

Lorraine Wilde has immersed herself in so many of Whatcom County’s vibrant communities over the past 25 years. Owner and Publicity Strategist for Wilde World Communications, Lorraine has connected with locals as a writer, actor, scientist, teacher, filmmaker, singer, and mom. Lorraine has performed improv and staged works in several of Whatcom County’s theatres and she is active in the Bellingham Film community. She is also a big supporter of the local music community. When she has a spare second, its spent with her children outside exploring a new adventure.