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Making Movies for Fun and Profit: A Summary

April 1, 2010

Les Bolton in his office with drawings from Disney Studios. Photo: Greg Gilbert/ The Seattle Times

Les Bolton, director of Gray’s Harbor Historical Seaport, was the Third Friday Speaker for March at CWB, which was held aboard the Steamship Virginia V. Artifacts and vessels from his organization have been featured in several motion pictures, most notably Lady Washington‘s as HMS Interceptor in Pirates of the Caribbean. Earned income has been crucial to the success of the Historical Seaport, but using artifacts in this way comes with its own set of challenges and can compromise the integrity of a collection, museum staff, and the organization itself.

Here are a few words of wisdom, as summarized by Dick Wagner:

  • Read the script first to make sure the film fits the mission of the organization.
  • Write a contract that states any changes to any of the museums’ artifacts must be approved by the organization’s Executive Director. Any cost of restoration will be paid at the expense of the Filmmakers/Producer.
  • Museum staff as spear carriers in the film must be paid at market rate.
  • Assume the filming process will be chaotic and that filming days will be long. Choose a staff that can survive the stress.
  • Make sure that the use of your artifacts in the film do no conflict with your plans for their display.
  • Get lots of publicity for your organization from the Producers.
  • Keep in contact with the Producers after the film is completed – they might hire you for consultations and display for future movies.

Capt. Les Bolton can be reached via e-mail:

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