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Utah Film Commission, File

Utah film commissioner mourns loss of 'Yellowstone,' celebrates new projects coming to state

By Graham Dudley, KSL.com | Posted - Aug. 14, 2020 at 5:16 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — In an interview on KSL NewsRadio Friday morning, Utah Film Commission Director Virginia Pearce said Utah's film industry is rebounding after months of inactivity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The interview came one day after the film commission announced that two new productions will be given incentives to film here in Utah, and after the popular Paramount drama "Yellowstone" left the state to film exclusively in Montana.

Pearce said it's been a "really busy month" for filming in Utah. "We've got right now — in and around Salt Lake, and kind of up and down the Wasatch Front — I think we've got seven films already shooting," Pearce said. "Lots of commercials. So, people are back to work. It definitely looks different. We've got a lot of masks and a lot of safety precautions, but it's good to see. People are back."

Specifically, Pearce said, the state has just approved a small, local project called "Grandpa's Crazy?" and a project about outstanding fugitive Jason Derek Brown, "American Murderer."

"It's a very sweet script," Pearce said of "Grandpa's Crazy?" "I really enjoyed it. They're actually shooting in Tooele, which is great." According to a film commission news release, "Grandpa's Crazy?" is directed by K. Danor Gerald and will hire exclusively Utah cast and crew.

"American Murderer," the release says, will begin shooting in the Salt Lake area in October and is hiring about 120 cast and crew, with an estimated spend of $2 million in the state.

"It's kind of a fascinating story," Pearce said. "We're excited to have the show here."

Pearce said it will be "very sad" to see "Yellowstone" production leave the state.

"'Yellowstone' leaving represents about $35 million in spend, that they usually spend, in and around Summit County," Pearce said. "The (Utah Hotel & Lodging Association) definitely felt a hit. Some of the locations that they've used in the past felt a hit, the restaurants. It starts to be very close to home. I heard from a lot of people who were like, 'We were really counting on "Yellowstone" because the pandemic already stunted our growth this year.' And now that's not happening, either. I think a lot of people are feeling it."

She said some "Yellowstone" crew members will continue to live in Utah.

Pearce also discussed the 15th anniversary of "The World's Fastest Indian," filmed in Utah, and said film bolsters the state's tourism industry. "People know Utah because of its film history," she said. "People come, definitely, to see where their favorite films have been shot."

Contributing: Doug Wright and Steve Salles, KSL NewsRadio

Graham Dudley

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