Utah Film Commission proud to refer filmmakers to Summit County
The Utah Film Commission promotes filmmaking in the state, which is why it works with Jill Orschel’s Filmmaker Showcase for its 14th year of screening on Nov. 21.
In addition to supporting the showcase, the commission, which is part of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, works to attract filmmakers to Utah, said Derek Mellus, Utah Film Commission production manager.
One area Mellus enjoys showing off is Summit County, drawing attention to its “spectacular locations” from Park City’s historic Main Street, to the Uinta Mountains and Summit Park, Mellus said.
”You have the Wasatch mountains and you have the beautiful towns, like Echo,” he said. “As sparse as it can be, it is still a wonderful place to make a movie because of its aura.”
Summit County also features an array of geological and geographical variation, Mellus said.
“It’s unique that the red rock that surrounds Echo can look as if you’re somewhere 800 miles south of here,” he said. “There are a lot of great agricultural areas in Summit County. These types of areas are quickly disappearing in Salt Lake County.”
The abundance of the county’s private ranches are also a boon to filmmakers, Mellus said.
“It’s easier to film on private property because of the permit process required to film on federally owned or managed lands,” he said.
Summit County is also home to talented filmmakers, crew and actors, Mellus said.
After a producer or location manager commits to Utah, the Utah Film Commission makes sure their productions can find the equipment, vehicles and accommodations, as well as trained crew and actors, to make the movies, according to Mellus.
If an indoor set is needed, the film commission will refer filmmakers to the Utah Film Studios, located in Park City.
“The Studios is the only building in the state that was constructed for the sole purpose of filmmaking,” Mellus said. “And because of its location and size, it has attracted many larger TV and feature film productions.”
The production that has made the most impact in the past couple of years is Paramount TV’s “Yellowstone,” which was created by Taylor Sheridan and stars Kevin Costner.
“They just wrapped up season three in October, and it’s been one of the most-watched supported cable series last year,” Mellus said.
In addition to viewing numbers, having Costner and Sheridan attached to the project helps other filmmakers take an interest in the area, according to Mellus.
Last year, an independent feature titled “The Happy Worker,” starring Thomas Hayden Church, shot “pretty exclusively” in the red rocks by Echo and Henefer, Mellus said.
“We are looking forward to finding out what the film’s festival run and distribution run will be,” he said.
Another independent film, whose working title was “The Werewolf,” was shot in Summit County by Jim Cummings, Mellus said.
“Jim broke out with his 2016 Sundance Film Festival short ‘Thunder Road’ that later turned into a feature,” Mellus said. “And ‘The Werewolf’ was shot mostly in and around Coalville. They did a lot of work up there.”
The Kamas Valley turned into Le Grande, Oregon, for Reinaldo Marcus Green’s “Good Joe Bell,” starring Mark Wahlberg, a few months ago, Mellus said.
“Kamas and South Summit High School were the perfect match of what filmmakers were looking for, because they look very similar to the look of Le Grande,” he said. “The high school rallied around the project, and filmmakers were allowed to film in the football field and use their team. I’m looking forward to seeing where the film ends up.”
For information about the Utah Film Commission, visit film.utah.gov.
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