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Bellevue filmmakers earn Emmy nomination

Emmy-nominated short
Emmy-nominated short 'Kites over Washington' producer Ilona Rossman Ho, left, and writer/director/art director Shannon Hart-Reed on location at Gas Works Park in Seattle.
— image credit: Chad Coleman / Bellevue Reporter

Bellevue filmmakers Ilona Rossman Ho and Shannon Hart-Reed might want to start thinking about acceptance speeches.

The Northwest Regional Emmy Awards are coming, and the two women have been nominated for an award in the special event-coverage category for the short film "Kites Over Washington."

Hart-Reed directed the film and Ho produced it.

"Kites Over Washington" documents a temporary art installation of 131 long-tail kites that flew over Gasworks Park as a sort of promotional stunt for Credit Unions of Washington.

Each kite represented member credit unions.

"I was really going for a feel-good moment – unexpected visuals, sunny skies and a feeling of relaxation," Hart-Reed said.

"Kites Over Washington" is a visually compelling short that opens with shots of Seattle's hustle and bustle, mixed with images of busy hands making kites.

Next, the film shows volunteers taking kites out to fly, followed by a child peering into the sky with wonder, and, finally, the kites in flight.

"We wanted to show the clamor of the city amid the building of the kites, then the peaceful calm that follows as the kites float in the sky," she said.

Hart-Reed's crew captured all the footage in one day.

Hart-Reed wrote lyrics for the score, and her friend Chris Darrow performed the music – which he also wrote. Seattle musician Sean Fairchild handled vocals.

Women in Film/Seattle and Credit Unions of Washington provided funding for the project.

Hart-Reed's filmmaking experience includes 15 years working on Hollywood feature films, primarily with art departments, before moving to Bellevue in 2005. Her last project in L.A. was "Pirates of the Carribean," for which she worked as a buyer in set decorating.

"It was the coolest project I've worked on to date," she said. "It really felt like 'big' Hollywood: like working on Ben Hur - real boats that sailed, huge set pieces, that sort of thing."

Ho came to filmmaking in a more roundabout way, spending the early part of her career as a software engineer. She grew tired of the corporate world and found her second calling at the Seattle Film Institute in 2005.

Since graduating from the school's one-year film program, Ho has worked on at least four projects, including the film "Anatomy of a Fly," which aired at the Seattle International Film Festival last year.

Ho is also an active board member for Women in Film/Seattle.

"I've really grown to like the film community here in the Northwest," she said. "It's really welcoming, and there's a lot going on. I really enjoy the collaborative aspect."

Although Ho and Hart-Reed are both film-industry veterans, the Emmy nomination represents a milestone in their careers.

"We're just still caught up in the thrill of being able to put the 'Emmy nominee' line on our resumes," Hart-Reed said. "That, in itself, is really very cool."

Today, Hart-Reed is working on the final stages of a film titled "A Trip to Nowhere," which tells the story of Polish women – some of whom live in Bellevue – who survived Soviet-run labor camps during World War II.

The film is mostly a work of montage and voice-over storytelling by survivors, all set to the music of Chopin.

DVDs and a graphic-novel based on the project are available now, and several school districts in New York and New Jersey have bought the film to show their students.

Ho said she is working on scripts for two shorts she would like to do this summer.

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