Made in Utah: “Footloose”

By Debra Vago

“All he wanted to do was dance…”

In March of 2014 Kevin Bacon visited the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and proved he’s still got the moves he flaunted in Footloose filmed 30 years earlier in locations all over Utah.  Though dancing and gymnastics doubles were used for some of the complicated scenes, audiences can all agree the guy’s got moves.  The film tells the story of a teenager who moves to a small town where rock music and dancing has been banned.  But his rebellious spirit shakes up the town and makes him some friends along the way.

That famous mill:

In addition to launching Kevin Bacon into the spotlight, Footloose made a grain mill in Lehi, Utah a tourist hot spot.  Sherm Robinson, the owner of Lehi Roller Mills told the Deseret News he was approached by the film’s executive producer, Daniel Melnick, who often drove by the mill at sunset on his way to his home in Sundance and noticed the glow around the building.

“He said he’d always wanted to film a movie here, so he stopped in and spoke to me directly,” Robinson said. “I said, ‘Sure.’”

At the time of filming there was nothing around the mill though now the growth of Lehi has drawn in plenty of neighbors.  And Robinson says tourists come by regularly to stand where Kevin Bacon stood or dance
where Ren McCormack danced.  They occasionally sell bags of flour to people who don’t intend to bake but want a memento from the iconic filming location.

You can see shots of the scenic mill while it was still in a relatively rural spot in Kenny Loggins’ very catchy Footloose music video.

School’s out:
To really get into character, Kevin Bacon spent a few days shadowing at Payson Utah High School. Once filming in the school began, many of the students served as extras in the film and got paid a cool $3.50 an hour to do it.

“We would have done it for free, so we thought it was pretty neat that we got paid!” says Stacey Measom, an extra and a member of Payson High School’s 1983 cheerleading squad. “Kevin Bacon and Sarah Jessica Parker were so nice to us. They posed for photos and signed autographs. We thought we were hot stuff!”

A regular in Utah:
Kevin Bacon returned to Utah many times after filming Footloose
in 1984 for appearances at the Sundance Film Festival.  Audiences may remember him in early films like Lemon Sky that premiered in 1989 or in films as recent as 2015 when he starred in Cop Car.  He and his wife Kyra Sedgwick regularly share their time and talent with emerging artists that come through the Sundance Institute artist development labs at the Sundance Resort.  Plus he tours with his brother for their band The Bacon Brothers and has played a few gigs in Utah.

The Song:

You can’t talk about Footloose without giving props to the famous Kenny Loggins hit. “Footloose” created for the film has been so wildly popular even the singer credits the film with sustaining his career.  It spent 3 weeks on the Billboard Top 100 list and is still a party starter today. Earlier this year Kenny Loggins released a children’s book based on the tune.  

Utah is the story:

Footloose is another shining example of Utah’s contributions to movie history. Filmmaker Herbert Ross set the film in a fictional town called Bomont which is “somewhere in the Midwest” though when you see the gorgeous outdoor shots, Utah’s beauty is hard to miss.