For years, Tom Skerritt has been searching for ways to celebrate and support the creativity of the Pacific Northwest.
He started up here by acting in the 1992 movie “Singles,” in which he played the mayor of Seattle. Then, eager to encourage storytelling through film and the written word, he established The Film School and later founded The Red Badge Project, which taught veterans how to process their experiences by writing.
Now, the 86-year-old actor has hit upon something that captures it all: EVRGRN, a free streaming channel with PNW-specific content that launched this month on STIRR (Channel 284), and is also available on web browsers, apps and on demand.
Skerritt, known for his roles in “Alien,” “Top Gun” and “A River Runs Through It,” is curating the channel’s content, which will include music from Northwest artists; features on glass-blowing, totem-pole carving and fly-fishing; Academy Award-nominated animated films, Seattle International Film Festival selections and many titles available to stream free for the first time.
“It’s solid storytelling and it has to be uplifting,” he said. “No crashes, no angry stuff.
“Everything is a story, and this area is loaded with good filmmakers who have made pretty good films that will never be seen by anyone,” Skerritt continued. “You go to them and say this is an ad-based thing and that’s a pretty nice way to lay it out.
“They get a little touchy about it. They want to be in Hollywood, but Hollywood doesn’t exist anymore.”
One of the films is “Out of Nothing,”about four men from the Pacific Northwest who build motorcycles from scrap, and seek to break land-speed records.
The film’s producer and composer, Andrew Lahmann, knocked on Skerritt’s door 10 years ago, seeking advice, and has been mentored by him since. So when Skerritt asked to show the film on EVRGRN, he was glad to help.
“The idea of going into a scrap-iron workshop and put it together to make a motorcycle? That’s wonderful,” Skerritt said. “And we will be the first ones to get it out there.”
Skerritt has partnered with Leslie Grandy, a former RealNetworks executive who launched the first online video subscription service, SuperPass, which carried Major League Baseball, ABC News and several shows from Viacom. She has also worked in film in Los Angeles and in the Washington State film office, now known as Filmworks.
“Where he was going creatively made sense,” Grandy said of Skerritt’s vision. “But he needed framing.”
Unlike other streaming services, EVRGRN has not yet produced original content, but “we are going down that route,” Grandy said. “Before we go to far with originals, we’re getting that learning with curated content.”
“This is personal,” she said. “This is stuff that (Skerritt) thinks is quality storytelling.”
Even better, he said, it showcases this place, and its people.
Skerritt remembered visiting a relative here decades ago and being struck by, well, everything.
“I thought, ‘Does anyone know what’s here?’ The four seasons are here, but it’s not extreme,” he said. “The forest, the people, and how you look at things, how you take in what you see. And it registers in how you live the rest of your life.
“This is a community that I don’t know if people understand how rich and how good it is. The creativity we have influences us all the time. I don’t take it for granted.”