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Posted: April 01, 2009

Colorado’s film economy is on the rise, thanks to “sustainable” independent effort

House Bill 1010 seeks to establish new office of film, television and media

Patricia Kaowthumrong

In a typical year, the Colorado film production community brings in less than $5 million. But some local filmmakers and lawmakers are working to bring even more film dollars to the state.

Boulder-based 42 Productions in February released its first script-to-screen feature, “Woodshop,” starring former Minnesota governor and pro wrestler Jesse Ventura; Denver-based filmmaker Jamin Winans premiered his critically acclaimed, “Ink,” also shot entirely in Colorado, at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival earlier this year.

These and other filmmakers are hoping their efforts will help spur a larger homegrown film industry in Colorado. Adding to that is House Bill 1010, which would create a new office of film, television and media within the Colorado Office of Economic Development. The bill, currently under consideration, was penned with hopes of tapping the state’s potential to attract more film productions.

“It’s not going to be until people start looking in state and seeing what an unbelievably talented base of artists and trades people that we have are we going to get the film community to really explode,” said Peter Coggan, founder of 42 Productions. “Woodshop” pumped almost half a million dollars into the state economy by hiring local talent, crew, caterers and rentals, among other expenses, he said.

Coggan said he encourages others in the film production community to think locally when it comes to looking for talent or facilities because it will benefit everyone. He calls it “sustainable independent filmmaking.”

42 Productions, for instance, already has plans to start filming a romantic comedy in the fall; it will be their second script-to-screen feature. The movie will be filmed entirely in Boulder and showcase the natural beauty of the area, Coggan said.

Paul Lee, a producer at 42 Productions, is encouraged by the fact that Colorado filmmakers, such as Winans and his Double Edge Films, are taking initiative and creating their own work.

In recent years, he said, “There’s been a lot of little pockets of people that aren’t necessarily waiting or hoping somebody decides to do film work in Colorado,” Instead, people “are creating work for themselves,” Lee said. “It’s a more profitable and a better long-term business plan. And 42 is on top of that.”

Kathy Beeck, director of the Boulder International Film Festival, now 5 years old, said Colorado filmmakers contribute about 15 to 20 percent of festival submissions. Over Valentine’s Day weekend, more than 14,300 people attended the festival, a 9 percent increase over 2008.

Beeck agrees that there has been an increase in interest in local filmmaking, and she encourages Colorado filmmakers to keep taking initiative and making movies.

Kevin Shand, director of the Colorado Film Commission, said he is rooting for the passage of House Bill 1010 to expand Colorado’s film incentive program, attract more filmmakers to the state and lower costs for production companies.

Colorado has proven it can attract Hollywood. Movies ranging from, Stephen King’s “The Shining,” to Jack Nicholson’s, “About Schmidt,” have been set here; Last year, Eddie Murphy shot his upcoming comedy, “Imagine That,” slated for a June release, in Denver. Two weeks of shooting infused $3 million into the city’s economy. However, if production costs had been lower, perhaps Denver could have benefited from an additional five weeks of shooting that took place in Los Angeles. 

In the meantime, filmmakers are not waiting around.

“We are committed to making the region and the state of Colorado successful in this business,” said Caroline Coggan, executive producer of “Woodshop.” “We’re delighted to be here and plan to be here for a long time, anxious to contribute to the community as we have been.”

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Patricia Kaowthumrong is a student at the University of Colorado School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Contact her at Patricia.Kaowthumrong@colorado.edu.

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Readers Respond

Film makers should check out Victor, Colorado for locations. A number of old (1899) untouched buildings, mining equipment, mine sites, etc. By Bruce M. Davis on 2009 04 02

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