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‘Unicorn City' bringing more than movie stars to Utah

By Amanda Butterfield | Posted - Jul. 7, 2010 at 6:27 p.m.



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ALPINE -- Actors you may recognize from the movie "Napoleon Dynamite" or TV shows like "Alias" and "Bones" are in Utah filming a new movie. It has love, comedy, action -- but the real story is why it's being filmed here and how it's bringing more to our state than movie stars.

"Unicorn City" is the name of the movie. Filming just started and will last just over two weeks. The Utah Film Commission offered the makers $30,000 to film the movie here, but it's bringing in way more than that to the local economy.

What is ... Unicorn City?
"Unicorn City" is the story of gamers who move to the mountains to live out their fantasy lives. It is a loose adaptation of Don Quixote set in modern times and features Live Action Role Playing (LARP) culture in a light but tender hearted comedy with romantic overtones.

Marshall Moore with the Utah Film Commission said, "The economic impact is between $600,000 to $700,000."

Here's the plot of "Unicorn City": A group of gamers move to the mountains and live out -- in real life -- their gaming fantasies.

"It's a place to get away from reality," explains actor Clint Vanderlinden. "You can be a hero, rescued, live your dreams in a real alternate world."

The alternate world is really just Alpine, Utah. That's where the crew is shooting this month, pumping money into the state.

Utah's Motion Picture Incentive Fund helped lure the movie here. That fund offers filmmakers a $30,000 rebate for their expenses while shooting in Utah.

The "Unicorn City" crew isn't the only movie crew taking up that offer.

"This year alone we're looking at a total of 18 films in the state," Moore said.

Disney and the Disney Channel have been here filming, and a movie just wrapped in Provo with an actor Utahns may recognize: Jon Gries, who played Uncle Rico in "Napoleon Dynamite."

Did you know?
  • Unicorn City was a $30,000 recipient of Utah's Motion Picture Incentive Fund.
  • The film will create 50 jobs over an 18-day production-day period and spend $550,000 in Utah's economy, including pre-production and post-production.

"And 'Lost,'" Gries adds. "I was in ‘Lost' on and off for three seasons," as well as a host of other TV and movie roles.

Gries plays an avatar in "Unicorn City" and is always happy to come back to Utah.

"I love this state and have done quite a bit of work here," he said.

Some reasons actors like Gries keep finding themselves working here is Utah's location. It's close to Los Angeles, there's an international airport nearby and all the scenery Utah has to offer.

But the biggest reason: "We have crew," Moore said. "When filmmakers come they don't want to travel everyone with them, and we have equipment."

"Unicorn City" just started filming Monday, so it won't be released until next year.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

Amanda Butterfield

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