Culture + Style

Why Filmmaker Martha Coolidge is Crazy in Love with Seattle


When Martha Coolidge chose to film “Crazy in Love” in Seattle, little did she know the title would have a double meaning.

“When you’re a filmmaker, you get to travel all over the world, but when I shot in Seattle, I wanted to live here,” says Coolidge. “That’s a big feeling.”

When she thinks about the city, affectionately known as Emerald City, it’s hard for Coolidge not to see it as “a kinetic, vital city that is growing and living and engaged at the same time as having a lot of natural beauty.”

The director helped launch the careers of Nicolas Cage, Val Kilmer and James Gandolfini when she cast them in showy roles in “Valley Girl,” “Real Genius” and “Angie.” She shares her love for Seattle in Discover America’s “United States of America Through Film,” in which 12 filmmakers, including Spike Lee, Andrew Davis, Nick Stoller, David Frankel and YouTuber Casey Neistat explore how New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami played key backdrops in their films and starring roles in cinema.

Coolidge has recently focused on television, where she’s helmed episodes of “Madam Secretary,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “The Glades,” “Psych” and “Weeds.”

“You can always get coffee,” she says, given Seattle’s strong cafe culture. “There’s always coffee 10 steps from where you’re standing.”

Staying caffeinated is always a good thing for the long hours filmmakers spend on set or in the editing room.

But Coolidge has also been captivated by Seattle’s music scene.

“It’s always had a great music scene—generation after generation of great music,” she says.

As for why Seattle also always looks great on camera: “Seattle photographs nicely because of the quality of the light, the moisture in the air—it diffuses beautifully,” Coolidge says.