Utah woos film, TV work

Commission pushing for biz as prod'n slips

Film and TV production in Utah has decreased in the last year, according to figures from the Utah Film Commission.

The economic impact on the state from film and TV production in the 1999-2000 fiscal year fell to $116.6 million, as compared with $146 million the previous year, according to Leigh von der Esch, executive director of the commission.

“We have seen that feature starts have been down in Hollywood, and the networks have changed a considerable amount of programming from television movies to shows like ‘How to Marry a Millionaire.’ In addition, Canada’s political and economic climate is a great inducement to filmmakers,” von der Esch said.

During the current fiscal year, the Utah Film Commission will expand and aggressively market the state, as well as take advantage of Utah’s heightened profile with the 2002 Winter Olympics.

To that end, the commission has issued a Utah Animation Digital & Video Effects Guide, listing companies and growth of post-production and special effects, as well as a scenic introduction in photographs depicting the state’s natural wonders, and a resource guide — a directory of crews, production, support services and other available resources.

Highlights of the state’s 1999-2000 fiscal year include official sponsorship of the Sundance Film Festival, 18 feature films, a network series (“Touched by an Angel”), a new TV series pilot (“Cover Me: Based on the True Life of an FBI Family”), 14 made-for-television movies and 173 commercials, print ads, documentaries or videos.

Recently wrapped films in Utah include the feature “Road to Redemption,” a Dean River production written and directed by Robert Vernon, shot in Salt Lake City, Moah and Utah County; and “See You in My Dreams,” a CBS telepic shot primarily in Ogden and Plain City, starring Aiden Quinn and Marsha Gay Harden, directed by Graeme Clifford.

The permit-free state was also a site for Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible 2” and Warner Bros. pic “Body Slam.”

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Stepping up the competition, the Arizona Film Commission, a division of the Arizona Dept. of Commerce, announced its newest online innovation designed to serve filmmakers around the globe.

Arizona’s production guide is now available on the Internet at www.azcommerce.com/azfilmcommission.htm. The interactive database goes a step beyond the printed version by providing search capabilities for every production service category, with a single keystroke.

“Our global economy mandates quick and easy access for filmmakers around the world, around the clock. Our ‘e-production’ solution delivers premiere customer service, regardless of time zones or office hours in an extremely time sensitive industry,” said Jackie Vieh, director, Arizona Dept. of Commerce.

A unique aspect of the online AFC production guide is that a search for a specific skill or service not only provides a list of companies/individuals offering that specific skill/service, but maximizes exposure for listed professionals with multiple skills or businesses with more than one service or product that may be of value to the filmmaker.

The online guide is tied directly to the AFC information system, allowing production listings to be updated instantaneously. Arizona film professionals can also submit or change listing information directly on the AFC’s Web pages.

Arizona film commissioner Linda Peterson Warren said, “Our filmmaking clients now have a convenient choice for production guide information with the online and printed options. This, plus maximum exposure for our Arizona technicians and businesses, and maximized data for our clients, is as good as it gets.”