Movie Biz Buzz: Finding ‘Love’ in Tacoma

By Christopher Wood on May 1, 2012

The jagged white triangle of Rainier explodes against a blue sky during the warmest day Tacoma has probably basked in this year. At first glance, the large house overlooking downtown looks as cheery as the weather, yet it houses a cold secret. See that? Someone has even blacked out a few of the windows, so no sunlight gets in.

And no female victims get out.

Had you going for a sec, didn't I? Probably not. But in any case you shouldn't worry, for as they say, "It's only a movie (Biz Buzz)." More specifically, it's a music video by director-producer Gary Voelker, founder of Experience Studios in Renton. This weekend, he and his cast and crew have taken over the Help A Veteran home on Market Street - a strangely suitable location, since the video depicts the savage underground market of human trafficking.

Voelker first heard about the project through fellow filmmaker Tonya Yorke. Her friend, Renton musician Lisa Mitts, wanted to have a video made for her song "Where Has Love Gone?" And wanting to make movies since Star Wars flew into his universe at age 4, Voelker now had this opportunity to tackle an insidious social problem solely with visuals.

"It's interesting (to craft a music video), because you have to tell the story in a very specific block of time," he notes. His script acknowledges the widespread human misery of trafficking by "shining a light on one particular story of what happens."

When word spread about the production, local love arrived quickly. Melinda Raebyne (Committed) offered her acting services to the producers for free.

"I just told them I wanted to be in the project no matter what," she says, since bringing awareness to this issue "is really close to my heart." She and Gig Harbor's Sarah Best play victims, with Tom Ricciardelli from Federal Way as an intimidating heavy.

The video will premiere alongside performances from Mitts and other artists at the Where Has Love Gone benefit concert on June 16 at Bellevue Foursquare Church. Donations will go towards the newly-opened Seattle chapter of anti-trafficking group The Defender Foundation (

Viewers can also find the video on YouTube following the concert - find links and purchase tickets at

(Photo courtesy Sherie Suter Photography)