Quiet on the Park City set, but what happens during ski season?
Quiet on set would have been accomplished without much difficulty on Wednesday as a movie crew filmed a scene along Main Street.
It is the middle of Park City’s shoulder season, a time when the city slows down between the busy summer and the start of the ski season. There were shoppers and diners on Main Street as the crew worked, but there did not appear to be significant issues. A few people seemed to be curious about the hubbub of the filming. Drivers were slightly inconvenienced.
But the backdrop would be different if it was winter. Main Street during the ski season is jammed at times during a typical winter day. Pedestrians vie for space on the sidewalks, the traffic crawls on Main Street and the snow seems to tighten the space along the street. Finding a parking space on Main Street or in locations on Swede Alley is difficult on many days.
As Park City becomes a place attractive to location scouts looking for a spot to film a movie scene or a television show, City Hall and Main Street are considering the impacts the crews have. Park City has long been used as a setting for movies, television shows and commercials. Some of them have shot scenes on Main Street. The opening of the Park City Film Studios at Quinn’s Junction has created added interest in places around the Park City area.
The issues have been most pronounced along Main Street. The shoot on Wednesday was the second in less than a month there. Both, expectedly, caused traffic issues. City Hall set aside blocs of parking spots in both instances as well.
In the ski season, though, the circumstances are more complicated. It would be politically sensitive for the municipal government to provide blocs of parking spots for film crews, potentially leaving crowds of shoppers and diners circling Old Town looking for a place to park. And, it seems, City Hall’s critical snow-removal operations would be made more difficult.
"It’s harder to mitigate the impacts in the winter. Obviously, town is busier," said Jason Glidden, the economic development program manager at City Hall and the staffer who oversees the permitting of the filming.
Glidden said officials have broached the issue of filming during the ski season with the production companies that have worked in the city. He said they have been told City Hall has permitted the recent shoots since it is the fall shoulder season. The recent filming has generally been permitted on Tuesdays and Wednesdays since those days are usually slow during Park City’s shoulder season, Glidden said.
He said staffers would need to ensure the impacts of filming during the ski season could be addressed before issuing a permit. Glidden said wintertime filming is not prohibited. He said City Hall has not received an application for a shoot during the upcoming winter.
The filming along Main Street on Wednesday was part of a movie shoot, identified in City Hall paperwork as an HBO Films project called "Mosaic." The paperwork indicated an 85-person crew was involved. The filming was at a house on the 600 block of Park Avenue and nearby Centennial Park. A map created by City Hall in anticipation of the filming showed 18 parking spots along Main Street were expected to be occupied by the crews. The map did not extend to the flagpole parking lot at the northern end of Swede Alley, which was also used by the crews. The filming operation was scheduled from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.
The Wednesday movie shoot occurred less than a month after a television show called "Blood & Oil," which is being produced at Park City Film Studios, shot on Main Street. The "Blood & Oil" crews filmed in the No Name Saloon. That filming also involved barricading parking spots.
There has been occasional film or television filming in Park City during the winter. The television series "One Tree Hill" taped in various locations in March of 2010, attracting fans to watch a scene as it was made. There has also been filming during the Sundance Film Festival, held in January each year.
Main Street leaders have been involved in the discussions about the impacts of filming. They are wary of the prospects of film shoots if they are scheduled during the winter. Alison Butz, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, said the group would have "major concerns" if there was similar filming as the crowds swell. Butz said issues would include managing pedestrians, crew parking and blocked intersections.
"Can we sustain both the tourists and the film production? I think that the tourists need to come first," Butz said.
Nearly a dozen Park City and Summit County officials sat on a public panel Wednesday to outline the way forward on wildfire management and to answer questions from residents.