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Utah has stiff competition for filmmakers' attention



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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has always been a popular place for filmmakers to come and shoot movies. But other states are making it much harder for Utah to compete for a filmmaker’s attention.

Recently, it was announced that Rob Reiner would be bringing his crew to Utah to shoot “Being Charlie,” starting in April. More than 100 people will be part of the cast and crew. Officials with the Utah Film Commission say it’s an independent film, so it won’t be nearly the size and scope of one of Reiner’s more famous productions, “The Princess Bride.”

The producers qualified for a tax incentive worth over $265,000 to film in Utah. That’s nearly 25 percent of what film crews will spend while working in the Beehive State.

"We have an on-going amount of money. Every year it gets replenished, but it is at the lower levels," said Commission Director Virginia Pearce.

But other states are stepping up their efforts to entice producers. Pearce said 75 percent of states have some sort of tax incentive program for movie makers, and many of them don’t limit how much money they give back, like Utah does.


Georgia and Louisiana are the hotbeds of film production, right now. They have invested a lot of money and resources in getting them to where they are... We compete with New Mexico because they're close and, for the desert look, they have a similar feel.

–Commission Director Virginia Pearce


“Georgia and Louisiana are the hotbeds of film production, right now. They have invested a lot of money and resources in getting them to where they are,” Pearce said.

While lawmakers are supportive of their needs to bring more studios to Utah for filming, Pearce can’t see Utah competing on the same level as Georgia, which offers nearly $150 million to companies to film in that state.

“We compete with New Mexico because they’re close and, for the desert look, they have a similar feel,” she said.

However, Pearce said they still have many producers applying for the Utah tax incentive, and if the state doesn’t hit its limit of $6.9 million one year, they get to keep the money left over and roll it over the next.

“The nature of the film business is that there are some films that look very promising but go down the path and, for one reason or another, they end up pushing to the following year, or things fall through,” she said.

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Paul Nelson

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