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The P3 Update blog is where we will share interesting perspectives and ideas that are shaping the film and production industry. Please let us know what you'd like our staff and contributing bloggers to cover in future posts.

P3 Production Update Magazine

Snowy peaks, rushing creeks, pine-covered
slopes—such imagery conjures up the rugged
beauty of the Rocky Mountain states. But the
region has more to offer than stunning scenery
and world-class festivals, with a burgeoning production
community that’s busy year-round on film,
television, and commercial jobs.
Over the years rugged Montana has stood in
for Switzerland, Oklahoma and Afghanistan. The
state is known for its unspoiled, diverse landscapes
of mountains, rivers, lakes, badlands, and
prairies. Movies such as River Runs Through It, The
Horse Whisperer, Northfork and Hidalgo showcased
its scenic beauty. Montana maintains a large
crew base of experienced film professionals, who
work year-round on features and national television
commercials. The crew base increases each
year thanks to an excellent film and media arts
program at Montana State University in Bozeman.
The state’s new and improved tax incentives also
give Hollywood a new reason to shoot here.
Governor Brian Schweitzer signed a new Big
Sky on the Big Screen Act into law this past May,
with a 14 percent tax rebate on all Montana
labor hired for film production, and a nine percent
rebate on all production-related state
expenditures including lodging, equipment rental,
fuel, lumber and construction materials. Another
incentive for filmmakers is that Montana has
no sales tax. Since no paperwork or rebate is
needed, this savings is immediate. “The new and
improved Big Sky on the Big Screen Act has made
Montana an even more desirable destination for
filmmakers,” says Schweitzer. “Montana is like no
other, she’s the epitome of the West. Whether or
not her name is in the credits, Montana is always
the biggest star.”
“These new tax incentives are helping a lot
and we’re already seeing a lot more production
coming here,” says Sten Iversen of the Montana
Film Office. “We’re doing scouts right now for
three big feature films that are looking to shoot
here this fall, and we’re generally seeing more
activity than in years.”
Will Brewster, a top Montana location scout/
art director based in Bozeman, reports that pro-
duction has picked up.“It’s 50 percent better than      
2006.We just had a big hBo Film, Taking Chances      
starring Kevin Bacon, shooting here. hBo told      
us they’d considered Canada, but it’s now too      
costly. We’ve also had a ton of car commercials      
– Toyota, Lincoln Mercury, two for Suzuki.We also      
did a Conocophillips commercial for Directors      
production Company out of Dallas, which shot      
here and in paradise Valley. Business has real-     
ly improved. We lost a lot of crew base after      
9/11 and our production really slowed down but      
they’re coming back now.We’re also busy training      
new crew, so the year ahead is looking good.”      
according to Colorado Film Commissioner      
Kevin Shand, feature film production in Colorado      
is picking up. The creation of the Colorado Film      
Incentive fund in 2006 is encouraging both local      
and out-of-state filmmakers to look at Colorado      
again. although the film incentive fund is relatively      
small, the Colorado legislature recognized the      
need to expand it this year and added another      
20 percent to the available funds.      
“We are seeing a nice increase in the number      
of productions, production days and production      
revenue in Colorado this year,” Shand states.“This      
should be one of our biggest production years      
in recent memory. The biggest feature film to      
film in Colorado this year will be the paramount      
pictures film NowhereLand starring eddie Murphy      
and Thomas haden Church. The film is directed      
by Karey Kirkpatrick (Over the Hedge) and will      
be filming in Metro Denver the first two weeks      
of october. We have been working with the      
production company on this project for several      
months and are happy that they have been able      
to find every location there were looking for      
other features shooting in Colorado this year      
include The Bucket List, directed by Rob Reiner      
staring Jack nicholson, Morgan Freeman, and      
Sean hayes; The Return directed by neil Burger      
starring Tim Robbins, Rachel Mcadams, Michael      
pena; and The Torturer directed by graham green      
starring nichelle nichols and andrew Walker.      
Several local filmmakers have also been active      
this year filming independent films including      
Marty Lindsey’s Suburban, The Five, directed by      
Dave yasuda, and Ink directed by Jamin Winans.      
another Colorado project set to begin filming is
Handful of Beans. Says Shand, “We are already in
discussion with several filmmakers about projects
lining up for 2008 schedules and it looks like 2008
could be even better than 2007.”
Colorado is always an active location for
commercials and this year is no exception.
Commercials shot in Colorado range from spots
for fast food chains such as Sonic (Daily Planet),
McDonalds (Insight), Good Times (Bohome)
to auto commercials for Jeep, Volvo and SAA B.
Magical Elves Productions as a part of the Bravo
Television show Top Chef chose Aspen as a location.
Giada De Laurentiis’s show Giada’s Weekend
Get Aways is being produced by Denver based
CPG and Centennial. Colorado-based High Noon
Enter tainment produces shows including: Food
Network Challenge, Unwrapped, Carter Can, and
What You Get for the Money locally.
Echoing Shand’s upbeat repor t is Danny
Dodge, owner of Loveland-based Roadrunner
Productions whose clients include Sony
Electronics, BBC America, SWAT, Hunting
University, KIA and Borg-Warner Automotive.
“Business is definitely up, and we’re seeing a lot
more jobs coming here from L.A.,” he says. “We
do a lot of big national commercials for companies
like CZ-USA, and we’re also getting a lot of
calls for TV shows and product marketing pieces.”
Dodge has over 21 years of experience shooting
catalogs and magazine covers, along with
producing, directing and handling most production
and post production requirements. “I handle
every aspect of production, from concept to
directing, camera, lighting, sound, animation, editing,
color grading and in some cases even the voicing
of projects,” he says. “We recently acquired a Red
Rock Micro 35 mm lens adapter and a Panasonic
HVX200 with which we are able to achieve film
like results in high definition.”
Dodge rattles of recent projects including a
VNR (video news release) for Sony Electronics;
production of national HD commercial for CZUSA
from concept to delivery of final master ;
location shoots in Colorado, Alaska and Canada
for Hunting University; post production of a 30 minute hunting show for the Versus network;
a Thunder Custom Cycles’ Mountain Custom
Cycle marketing video; shooting and editing an
HD marketing piece for A4S Securities, featuring
a high speed video capture of a bus explosion at
10,000 frames per second at a 15 millionths of a
second shutter speed. That footage was shot just
north of Fort Collins, Colo. Says Dodge, summing
up, “It’s a wide variety of work—it seems that the
ad budgets are opening up, and that’s good news
for the whole state.”
When Clint Eastwood made films like Pale
Rider and Bronco Billy he chose to shoot them
in Idaho. And as Kathleen Haase, Film Industry
Specialist, Depar tment of Commerce in Boise,
points out: “Our landscapes are still as breath-taking,
and our cowboys still as gruff. Only now their
ranches run on GP S technology via Blackberry
and our Indian citizens are millionaires.
“Nonetheless, Idaho is a sweet little place folks
like John McClane and Forrest Gump like to call
home, she says. “It’s got something for everyone
and the most diverse topography of all the 50
states. You can cheat it in Idaho. Here at the Film
Office, we’ll carry you up hill in snow if it’ll make
your production a more pleasant one. And you’ll
like our crews, too—they’re skilled professionals.”
Recent projects include Out of the Blue: A Film
About Life and Football, a documentary about the
famous state football game made by Ironcircle
Films and a recent edition of Extreme Makeover.
Haase says that state residents have evolved into
a sophisticated population of high-tech workers
and world-class artists. “And last year Boise was
listed as one of the “Best Places to Live” in the
country according to Money Magazine and the
“Number One Adventure City” according to
National Geographic.”
While at present the state does not offer
any tax breaks, Idaho intends to become more
competitive with its neighbors. There is pending
legislation next year with a variety of proposals,
including a 20 percent cash rebate on state
expenditures if you hire 20 percent of your crew
in Idaho, with a $500,000 cap per picture and a
50 percent wage reimbursement for advancing
Idaho crews. Currently, the state offers some
breaks, such as a sales tax rebate on tangible
goods, a lodging tax waiver for over 30 days,
vendor deals, federal tax incentive (Jobs Creation
Act), and a pro-active Film Office.
The state of Utah has a long film history and
offers a wide spectrum of landscapes ranging
from the Bonneville Salt Flats to the southern red
rocks, to an array of architectural styles. It’s only a
90-minute flight from L. A., and has an extensive
production center and experienced crew base.
Since the early 1920s over 800 films and several
television shows have been made in Utah. The
Moab and Monument Valley area was popularized
by the legendary director John Ford and actor
John Wayne, creating the signature backdrop
for their Westerns. Beginning with Stagecoach
(1939), Ford used locations that simply could
not be duplicated in the studio while setting the
standard for an entire genre of films. The John
Ford/John Wayne relationship spanned over 50
years, resulting in nine great classics shot in Utah.
Industry veterans now affectionately refer to the
area as “John Ford Country.”
Today, Utah continues to offer great resources
to filmmakers. “In addition to our tax rebate
program, we also have several major talent agencies, office space, studio space and full-service
rental houses,” says director of the Utah Film
Commission Marshall Moore.
According to the film commission, Utah now
offers an incentive package with a 15 percent
post-performance rebate for every dollar spent
in the state, a sales and use tax exemption on
equipment for film and television, as well as a
transient room sale tax exemption for productions
staying longer than 30 consecutive days in a
hotel room or similar lodging.
“High School Musical 2 wrapped production
last spring, shooting entirely in Salt Lake City and
St. George, Utah. Other feature films that have
completed production over the past few months
in the state are Animals, White on Rice, Adventures
of Food Boy, The Second Singles Ward, Dragonhunter,
Lifeless, Darkroom Dadnapped, and Minutemen.
The producers of High School Musical will start
production on The American Mall early next year,”
adds Moore.
Owner of the Salt Lake City-based Vineyard
Productions, Jeff T. Miller, says the state is on an
upswing. “While production nationwide may
have slowed, business in the Rockies, and Utah
in par ticular, has been very brisk.” Miller was
line producer on two recent big projects: Dark
Matter, starring Meryl Streep and Bonneville, starring
Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange. “Now I’m
starting The Assignment, which I’m producing in
Salt Lake City.”
Utah is also home to the well-known Sundance
Film Festival. “The Sundance Film Festival is a
great event for Utah, bringing thousands to our
state, which gives the Utah Film Commission the
opportunity to meet with filmmakers from across
the globe,” says Moore. According to the film
commission, Sundance and other in-state festivals
have created an economic impact of 108 million
Utah has maintained its busy production
schedule, shooting over 900 production days in
the past year for 23 feature films, nine parts of TV
series, and hundreds of commercials, documentaries,
and industrials.
The glossy Oceans 11 franchise springs to
mind when you think of Las Vegas, Nevada. But
the state is more than just neon in the deser
t. Nevada offers myriad landscapes—from
Midwestern farmlands to sci-fi planets and moonscapes.
Dry lake beds and sand dunes can double
for a Middle East background. Hoover Dam can’t
be duplicated, and has appeared in blockbusters
such as Transformers. Valley of Fire continues to
be popular for music videos, feature films and
commercials that require striking red rocks. Sean
Penn has taken advantage of the region’s wilderness
for Into the Wild and The Pledge. Reno, the
“Biggest Little City in the World,” was the setting
for the bowling film Kingpin, and more recently
Thunder Over Reno, a feature on the city’s Air
Races. And Sin City continues to be a draw: The
Twentieth-Century Fox film What Happens in
Vegas starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher
is set to start production this fall in Las Vegas.
While Nevada does not offer tax incentives,
many types of fees and taxes have never existed
in the state. And productions here get their money’s
worth. Nevada continues to be ranked one
of the top production states in the country. This is
attributed to diverse locations, free and accessible
permitting and a strong local crew base. “We
have... very little red tape,” says Charlie Geocaris,
director of the Nevada Film Office. “Filmmakers
find our state extremely accommodating, from
the crew, to the locations, to the weather. We
are a very film-friendly state, and that brings a lot
people back here each year.”
The Nevada Film Office (NFO) is responsible
for production related revenue generated
in the state, which has surpassed over $100 million
seven years in a row. Annually, the NFO
serves hundreds of productions ranging from
feature films to television series to music videos,
documentaries and commercials. The NFO staff
promptly delivers key information through its
complimentary services, including script breakdowns
and location scouting. And being a multijurisdictional
liaison, NFO provides assistance with
the statewide production community, by customizing
location photo packages and publishing the
Nevada Production Directory.
The Nevada Production Directory is a comprehensive
publication of available crew, vendors,
equipment, production and post-production support
services and notable locations throughout
the state. It is the key tool for all production and
filming in Nevada. It is available online at nevadafilm.
com and is distributed throughout the world.