Altman kin tackles Omaha opus

IT’S NOT “NASHVILLE,” but Robert Altman’s grandson Dana Altman has set out to make his mark on the movie world as producer of a low-budget comedy that incorporates the ambience of another American hub — Omaha, Neb.

The quirky comedy, directed by USC film student Dan Mirvish, is about an Omaha man who returns home from a trip to Nepal to confront the normalities of his life living with his parents in Nebraska.

Dubbed “Omaha: The Movie,” the comedy has been independently financed by local investors, but that’s not saying much. The pic, shot entirely in 35mm, sports a microscopic budget of $ 64,000.

“It’s neat to be in Nebraska,” said the 27-year-old Altman, explaining that more than $ 200,000 in equipment and gifts in kind have been scrambled up from local businesses and cities.

Born and raised in Omaha, Altman segues from a career producing educational films for the state of Nebraska to produce the pic, now in the midst of a two-month shoot in Omaha and Alliance. The movie is entirely staffed by Nebraskan actors and crew. “Everything about this project is Nebraska,” Altman said.

Even in his home state, Altman said he’s aware of the obvious comparisons between his work and the work of his famous grandpappy. “The only comparison is that in both his work and my piece there’s more of a love of the art than the love of a monetary gain,” he said.

CHRISTY L. JOHNSON was named executive director of the Winston-Salem Piedmont Triad Film Commission by the local chamber of commerce just three months ago, but already the former director of movie development in Arkansas has made the place home.

To date, more than $ 1 million in commercials and documentary filming has wended its way to Winston-Salem, but the new kid on the block is looking for some bigger fish. Johnson is managing a two-year, $ 200,000 program to aggressively recruit movies to Forsyth County, and a few nibbles already have been charted.

Trilogy Entertainment Groupplans to film a CBS pilot in historic Old Salem. The restored Moravian village is deemed picture-perfect for a movie about spies in the American Revolution.

There’s a major plan afoot in Winston-Salem that could make Johnson’s sales pitch a lot easier. Local business leader William A. Davis II has pitched a proposal to turn an old AT&T plant into a multimedia movie studio.

AT&T is asking $ 14.85 million for its 83-acre facility where Interstate 40 and U.S. 52 meet, but it may donate about 60 acres to the community. A feasibility study is under way.

POST-PRODUCTION just got a tad easier in Lexington, Ky., as Video Editing Services took the wraps off a new studio in the downtown area of East High Street. The studio features non-linear post-production on the Avid system, interformat editing and more spacious facilities. The company has been cranking out footage in Lexington since 1982.

Also in the Bluegrass State, director Archie Borders has just wrapped shooting the low-budget “Reception to Follow” in the Louisville area. But don’t expect the picture to display the state’s versatility as a location, because “Reception to Follow” is shot almost entirely in a bathroom, as 24 characters go in and out during a wedding reception.

IT SHOULDN’T BE a surprise, but New Mexico has parlayed the Western craze into location dollars. The Silver State has hosted a startling six features since July 1, all but one of which falls into the Western genre.

Gunfights are breaking out all over the state. The list includes director Lawrence Kasdan’s epic Western “Wyatt Earp” in central and northern New Mexico; Aussie Paul Hogan’s “Lightning Jack” in Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Abiquiu; and the Woody Harrelson/Kiefer Sutherland- starrer “The Cowboy Way” near Espanola in Rio Arriba County.

So what’s up next for the state? You guessed it, the contemporary western “Alto Ridge,” set to start shooting in January in Lincoln County — better known as Billy the Kid country.

SHOOTING ON “City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold” has wrapped in Moab and Goblin Valley, Utah. It’s just one of several big-budget pix to unspool in the Beehive State.

Others are the Mel Gibson/James Garner/Jodie Foster starrer “Maverick,” which shot a portion at Lake Powell, and the John Denver/James Read starrer “Walking Thunder” in the Alpine Loop area of Northern Utah.

Utah Film Commission director Leigh von der Esch said the diversity among studios, independents and television producers is particularly encouraging for the state.

Next up for Utah is Paramount Pictures’ upcoming “Pontiac Moon,” which has opened an office to begin shooting from mid-November to Dec. 6. The state is waiting to hear from the producers of “Forrest Gump” as to whether or not they’ll shoot at Arches National Park and Monument Valley around the end of the year.

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