The final episode of the season of the zombie TV series Z Nation was shot at Fort Casey State Park in Coupeville in September. The episode airs at 6 p.m. Friday night, Dec. 16, on the SyFy Channel. Photo courtesy Frank Schaefer/Go2 Z, LLC.

The final episode of the season of the zombie TV series Z Nation was shot at Fort Casey State Park in Coupeville in September. The episode airs at 6 p.m. Friday night, Dec. 16, on the SyFy Channel. Photo courtesy Frank Schaefer/Go2 Z, LLC.

Z Nation’s Fort Casey episode to air Friday night

He might cover his eyes on occasion, but Jon Crimmins is planning to be keenly focused on his television screen Friday night.

His anticipation has been slowly building to see the climactic, season-ending episode of Z Nation, not so much for the grumpy zombies or scenes of slow-motion blood spatter but instead for the structures and scenery in the background.

Z Nation’s season finale, which airs at 6 p.m. Friday on the Syfy Channel, was filmed almost exclusively at Fort Casey State Park, where Crimmins is park manager.

He’s spent recent weeks checking out the latest episodes, mostly fast-forwarding through the gore, to see if there was a hiking trail or road he might recognize.

Friday night will be different.

“I’ll probably be watching this in real time,” he said.

The cast and crew of Z Nation, a zombie television series, spent about three weeks in Snohomish and Island counties in September, filming the final two episodes of its third season.

The move was a departure from shooting at the show’s normal stomping grounds near Spokane in an attempt to provide a fresh backdrop for viewers.

They found that in Index for one episode and then on Whidbey Island for the dramatic season finale, where about “95 percent” was shot at Fort Casey, according to Jodi Binstock, the show’s producer.

The episode reunites the cast in an epic battle to save humanity played out atop, around and inside the gun emplacements of the former World War I-era coastal defense fort.

The panoramic view of Admiralty Inlet, held so dear to those who visit the park, will now be seen by the more than 800,000 viewers who typically tune in to the show each week.

“The cliffhanger at the end takes place at the ridge,” Binstock said. “The expanse of being able to look out over the Sound is so dramatic.”

But will that scene mark the dramatic conclusion to the show’s three years of being filmed exclusively in Washington state?

Z Nation was renewed for a fourth season but the uncertain status of Washington’s film incentive program leaves the producers in a bit of a zombie state in terms of where they’ll be shooting next year.

Z Nation’s presence in Washington is largely driven by tax incentives from the state’s Motion Picture Competitiveness Program, enacted in 2007 to help Washington compete better with other states and Canada in trying to entice filmmakers and the economic benefits that come with them.

The program is set to expire June 30 unless the Legislature acts to renew it.

“We want to come back to Washington with all of our hearts,” Binstock said. “We started up a wonderful working machine there. It feels like we couldn’t do the show nearly as efficiently elsewhere. But the incentive program that Washington state put forward is sunsetting (in 2017). It’s in the hands of legislators.”

Washington Filmworks, a nonprofit that manages the state’s film and production incentive programs, has launched a campaign this month to support the continuation of the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program.

The economic impact of the Z Nation production on Whidbey in less than one week was estimated at $30,000, according to Sherrye Wyatt, public relations and marketing manager for Whidbey Camano Islands Tourism.

“The experience was amazing,” Marc Dahlstron, Z Nation’s production supervisor, wrote in an email. “Everyone at Fort Casey and the Washington State Parks Northwest Region Headquarters were incredibly supportive, accommodating and willing to work with all of the requests. Fort Casey is visually unique and fit the creative needs of the episode perfectly. And maybe more importantly, the cast and crew that stayed in Coupeville and Oak Harbor thoroughly enjoyed their time on the island and found great food, friendly locals and wonderful accommodations. I’m sure everyone would love to come back and film more on the westside and would also like to come visit during a break in production.”

Lynda Eccles, executive director of the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce, said she isn’t one to watch zombie shows but was pleased that the production chose Central Whidbey to shoot.

She visited the set and got to be around the crew that she described as “very nice and very hospitable” and got to meet part of the cast, including Kellita Smith, who plays decorated National Guard Lt. Roberta Warren, and Keith Allan, who plays Murphy.

Like Crimmins, she’ll be watching Friday night.

“It will be a new experience,” she said.

More in Life

Frances Schultz, holding a picture of her younger self, recently turned 100 years old. Her daughter, Connie Van Dyke, right, said her mother’s photo looks like one of actress Barbara Stanwyck. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
At 100, Oak Harbor woman reflects on busy life

Frances Schultz turned 100 years old on March 30.

Joel Atienza’s uniform’s USAF/USSF patches prior to transfer. Photo provided
Oak Harbor 2010 grad selected for U.S. Space Force

Joel Atienza’s advice to Space Force hopefuls? “Remember, ‘The sky is not the limit.’”

Color Guard Capt. Mike Hutchins, at left, and John Kraft present the Sons of the American Revolution Bronze Good Citizenship Medal to Bobbi Lornson, center. (Photo by Teresa Addison)
Oak Harbor woman awarded ‘Good Citizenship’ medal

Bobbi Lornson, past president of the Oak Harbor Lions Club president and volunteer, was recently recognized for her contributions to the community.

The Oystercatcher’s owner and chef, Tyler Hansen, prepares a dozen 3 Sisters beef bolognese lasagnas to go on the shelves at 3 Sisters Market. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Chef liaises with other business owners

A Coupeville chef has expanded his partnership with local business owners to… Continue reading

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
Third grader Laszlo McDowell gets up close and personal with a gray whale skull.
Students learn about being ‘whale-wise’

South Whidbey Elementary School students got a taste of what it would be like to live as gray whales.

Tim Leonard, owner of the Machine Shop in Langley, hangs a purple neon star he made on the wall of his arcade. Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group
Neon art show colorizes Machine Shop’s reopening

A cacophony of happy buzzers and bells and a riot of glowing… Continue reading

Rockin’ A Hard Place | All aboard for my big, post-jab Rock adventure

All aboard for my big, post-jab Rock adventure!

Rishi Sharma checks levels in his camera before interviewing WWII combat veteran Frank Burns of Freeland last Saturday. Sharma travels the country interviewing WWII combat veterans for his oral history project and nonprofit, Heroes of the Second World War. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Recording for posterity tales of WWII vets across the U.S.

Rishi Sharma has met more than 1,100 World War II combat veterans to document their stories.

Viggo Cerrato, 6, pets a young Shamo rooster named Baby Boy. Cascadia Heritage Farm is currently in the midst of a project to “invigorate” a rare breed of chicken. Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group
Farm promoting genetic diversity, a flock at a time

North Whidbey’s Cascadia Heritage Farm focuses on preserving critically endangered breeds.

An Anna’s Hummingbird feeds from a red-flowering currant on Whidbey Island. Photo by Martha Ellis
Native plant habitat a wild bird’s best friend

Spring couldn’t come soon enough this year, not for just the birds, but for the nature enthusiasts.

Teaser
Jason Blair, owner of Red Fish, Blue Fish, nets an angelfish.
Finny business: ‘Fish Nerd’ opening new shop

The store is coming to Greenbank Farm this spring.