Celebrating Film & Digital Entertainment in Utah

By Elizabeth Latenser

On February 1st we gathered with film and digital industry members for Film Day on the Hill in Salt Lake City to showcase the incredibly diverse entertainment industry brewing locally. The industry is comprised of 450 companies that employs at least 4,300 workers and pays more than $100 million in wages and salaries. Not to mention, it keeps the world endlessly entertained! From traditional production companies to game designers and virtual reality creators, Utah truly is a hotbed for creativity across many sectors.

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert & Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox at Film Day on the Hill.

Check out this video featuring Utah Film Commissioner Virginia Pearce from Film Day on the Hill. I would encourage you to watch it twice. First, listen to what she is sharing about the industry in Utah which is uniquely positioned to compete with other states for film production due to our iconic landscapes, experienced crew and established infrastructure.
Then take a look at all the activity in the background, including intricate set designs, groundbreaking technology, fantastic costumes and innovative companies. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what these groups can do!


I learned a few things from Film Day on the Hill:

The Utah Film Commission’s Motion Picture Incentive program has been making an incredible economic impact on the state and employs a variety of recruitment strategies to bring projects here. Those efforts have resulted in 146 films in the state, 13,830 jobs created and $239 million in direct Utah spending since 2005.
The future is bright! In 2016, more than 3,000 students were enrolled in a film or digital media program at 13 of Utah’s higher education institutions. I can’t wait to see what these students cook up.
The industry is going digital. More than 80% of film production is done digitally so it’s crucial for artists to stay on top of new technologies.
Legislators are proud of the strong film and digital entertainment industry we have in Utah and see it as an incredible asset to our cultural landscape and bustling economy.

Thank you to all the creative companies who joined us and to those who couldn’t come but continue to pour their heart into creating the best work possible in Utah. Here is a list of a few who made it. Make sure to check out what they are up to:

Contributing writer Elizabeth Latenser is a film fan, mountain momma, dog lover and tree hugger.

Sundance Film Festival: A Blizzard of Creativity

By Elizabeth Latenser

Just like that, the hustle and bustle of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival concludes.  We agree with Festival Director John Cooper when he said, “This has been one of the wildest, wackiest and most rewarding Festivals in recent memory. From a new government to the independently organized Women’s March on Main, to power outages, a cyberattack and snow at record levels, the work of our artists rose above it all and challenged and changed us these last 10 days. I am most proud that, through it all, we have formed a community that is bound tighter by the art we make and the ideas we support.”

The Utah Film Commission team is giving Sundance Institute, the Festival team, all the artists and all the volunteers a standing ovation for making this incredible event happen.  And now we also wish you all a good night’s rest for the first time in weeks!

Our team had a great Festival experience and by measuring the energy of the over 2,500 people that came through our space on Main Street; filmmakers, industry and festival-goers did too. We got a chance to connect with artists, share our story and hear their ideas.  Our panels included in-depth discussions with LMGI location managers from across the country, a deeply moving conversation with Latino Reel, documentary film director Peter Bratt, and Delores, the subject of his film, Delores. UVU organized two incredible panels for their students with filmmakers from Litte Hours, The Hero, Nobody Speak, Patti Cake$, Strong Island and Trophy around the future of storytelling, the importance of diversity in art and more.  If you want to see more check out our Sundance photo album.

Utah Valley University students pose for a photo with directors and producers of Sundance films after a panel at Utah Film Commission on Main

The four movies that were filmed in Utah premiered for audiences for the first time ever which is exciting but also sometimes scary for an artist.  Though we know Cooper would caution these filmmakers from taking a  critic’s review to heart, it is nice to catch someone saying something positive about your project. Here are a few of our favorite quotes from the trades about those Utah-connected films:

Brigsby Bear was purchased by Sony Pictures Classics during the Festival and made Variety’s top 13 list. Peter Debruge and Owen Gleiberman said:

“This sweet, super-creative comedy is pretty much exactly what you’d want from a bunch of ‘Saturday Night Live’ talents — not another one of those lame Lorne Michaels-produced features that stretches a popular sketch too far, but a zany comic premise that delivers steady laughs and social satire in a disarming new way.

Wind River was Taylor Sheridan’s directorial debut and the Salt Lake Tribune said:

With “Wind River,” screenwriter and now director Taylor Sheridan completes a trifecta of deeply layered, character-driven neo-Western crime dramas, and one that tops the other two, “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water.”

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train premieres on Netflix on March 17. Robert Abele of The Wrap said:

“…because Freeland and Farrell keep close tabs on how the good criminal fun starts to affect Deidra and Laney as turbulent adolescents in dire straits, the movie always feels socially conscious and smartly sympathetic, even when it’s effortlessly humorous.

The movie also does well thoughtfully addressing the complicated feelings stressed kids have for their struggling parents and, in a late confrontation scene, it finds a touching way to re-examine what sparked mom’s breakdown, a scene initially played as comedy. Also, the fact that the Tanner family is biracial adds a welcome tinge of modern reality, even with a dusty rural backdrop (Utah for Idaho) usually associated with ethnically homogeneous casts.”

Snatchers will be available online sometime this Spring on the new streaming service, Stage 13, a division of Warner Bros. Fred Topel from Bloody Disgusting said this about the horror comedy flick:

“There’s clearly more to Snatchers. The origin of the creature has not entirely been confirmed by the end, and there’s a big teaser. I already want to see more Snatchers and these first eight play well as a standalone movie.”
For a full recap of the Festival award winners take a look at the Sundance Film Festival live blog or watch the award ceremony live stream.

Contributing writer Elizabeth Latenser is a film fan, mountain momma, dog lover and tree hugger.

2017 Sundance Film Festival

It’s already November and before you know it, the Sundance Film Festival will be upon us. And as the Festival Host State, the Film Commission is on the move, getting ready to welcome visitors and filmmakers from around the world.

For 2017, our base of operations will be located at 625 Main Street, where we are planning various events with a variety of film industry partners. So keep an eye on our blog and our social channels for the latest news on what we are doing during the festival.

2017 Sundance Film Festival
Park City, Utah
January 19-29

The Block Film & Art Festival

Logan’s The Block Film & Art Festival 

Do you like film, music, and art? We do! Which is why we’re sponsoring The Block film & art festival. Spend the weekend in Logan watching incredible films and immersing yourself in Utah’s artistic culture. Technically this is the fifth annual film festival, but this year it’s not just film. It’s grown to include music, art, and education. Logan has the benefit of having four theaters on one block, so they’re utilizing the space to create a weekend for everyone to enjoy. With nearly 50 films, music, food, educational speakers, and art, it’s the perfect way to tap into Utah’s creative culture.

The festival runs October 7th-8th and passes are only $5 for students and $20 for locals. If you only have time to watch one film, you can do that too for only $8. Or you can just walk around and enjoy the music, art, and food carts. Check out the schedule and snag your tickets here!

Utah Locations, Crew & Services on the Go!

Want to get UFC info on the go? You’re in luck! We have an app to meet your film needs. Find the perfect location, crew members, and local services to support your production. You can search by distance, categories, regions, or keywords. If you allow the app to know your location, you can find the resources you need that are the closest to you! Available on the Apple App Store, the UFC app is a great tool for anyone looking to film in Utah. But don’t take my word for it, download the app for free and see for yourself!

Good News for BYUtv!

BYUtv has greenlit their second scripted series, Extinct. After the success of Granite Flats, BYUtv’s first scripted series, the network is amped to produce Extinct. Written by Orson Scott Card (the writer of Ender’s Game), this sci-fi series takes place 400 years after the extinction of the human race. It follows a group of people who have been revived by an alien civilization. Throughout the season, this colony of revived humans will struggle with the aliens who destroyed humankind centuries before, all the while trying to build relationships with the mysterious aliens who revived them.

Local director, Ryan Little, is a perfect fit for this series with previous works such as Saints and Soldiers, and Forever Strong. With the storytelling ability of Orson Scott Card, the directing ability of Ryan Little, and the exploration of life after civilization, Extinct is likely to have something for everyone. We’ll let you know when the series is ready to premiere sometime next year so keep an eye out!

New Utah Film Incentive to Cultivate the Indie Creative Community

Attention Utah filmmakers!

The Utah Film Commission has created a new film incentive program just for you! The Community Film Incentive Program is a 20% cash incentive for projects with budgets under $500,000 with no minimum spend. Why did we do this? Because we want to put our money where our community is. As our film commissioner, Virginia, says, “there is a thriving creative class here in Utah that we want to cultivate. We are looking for new voices and powerful stories and we hope this new program can encourage entrepreneurship and give new filmmakers the ability to produce their film at a higher level.”

The idea is to foster Utah’s home-grown talent by incentivizing projects that provide opportunities for up and coming filmmakers in the state. By supporting local productions, Utah is investing in the next generation of filmmakers to cultivate Utah’s crew base. Our college graduates cannot be our industry’s biggest export, which is why The Community Incentive Film Program aims to keep recent film graduates and new filmmakers in Utah to produce their first films proudly in their home state. How will it do this? The CFIP is reserved for projects with at least 1 local above-the-line crew member and 85% Utah cast and crew. Projects with first time filmmakers are prioritized over returning filmmakers and the more local cast and crew projects have, the better! So now’s the time to produce your first feature film! We have your back.

Apply now!

Who wears it better?

Robert Pattinson was spotted rocking his Utah Film Commission hat in LAX on his way home after filming Damsel in Utah for most of August. The Western era comedy, Damsel, wrapped up filming last week and is scheduled to premiere early next year. Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska co-star in this comedy about a man trying to marry the woman of his dreams.

Since Twilight, Pattinson has found a new niche in the art-house world with films like Cosmopoli and The Rover. The Zellner Brothers’ new project, Damsel, fits the bill of art-house, but should be more lighthearted than the former. It was fun having him in our State and by the looks of it, he wears Utah proudly.

Alright fine…I’ll admit he wears it better, but I wore it first.

Happy Anniversary Thelma and Louise!

Thelma and Louse are back for their 25th anniversary! This dynamic duo will hit the big screen on August 21 and 24 in Ogden, Utah. The 1991 classic, Thelma and Louise, takes the power of womanhood to a whole new level, all the while highlighting some of Southern Utah’s greatest assets. You won’t want to miss it on the big screen!

We can thank Fathom Events, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayor, and Park Circus for this additional release, which includes an all-new introduction from movie critic Ben Lyons. It will be showing at Cinemark Tinseltowns in Ogden, 3651 Wall Avenue, and Farmington, 900 W Clark Lane, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on both dates. Tickets can be purchased online at www.cinemark.com.

Fun fact about Thelma and Louise: The Grand Canyon scene was actually filmed at Dead Horse Point in Southern Utah.