Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Monday wasn't an average day for the bison population on Antelope Island.
First, a herd of 600 or more was rounded up. Next, two helicopters flew overhead to incite them to charge in a minor stampede.
Park rangers kept track of temperatures and requested breaks so the bison wouldn't overexert themselves as cameras rolled for "Buffalo Dreams," a Disney Channel movie to air next spring.
"It's a great story about a native boy and a white kid who learn to appreciate each other's cultures and be friends," said Simon R. Baker, 18, who plays a Navajo teen named Tom. "It's really about friendship and tolerance, and it has lots of great mountain biking."
The story is told through the eyes of the other boy, Josh, played by 14-year-old Reiley McClendon. Josh is a Chicago kid whose family moves to New Mexico (portrayed by Antelope Island State Park). The bickering boys end up working together on a bison preserve run by Tom's tribe.
Actor Graham Greene ("Dances With Wolves") plays Tom's grandfather, who sends the two boys on a Vision Quest to gain insights into their values and life purposes.
"I really like working in Utah," said McClendon. "It's a gorgeous state. We've shot in Skull Valley and at Provo River Falls and at Wasatch Reserve. Utah has great locations."
Utah has been used in more than 600 theatrical films and TV movies, said Leigh von der Esch, executive director of the Utah Film Commission.
"Our high-water mark was $140 million film-related money in a year," von der Esch said. "We've taken a hit in recent years because of losing 'Touched by an Angel' and because of the increase of reality-based television cutting into the kind of filming that was typically done here. We also have other states and countries offering financial incentives."
The Utah film industry still brought more than $80 million to the state last year, von der Esch said. "Still, every film is very important t o us," von der Esch said. "And Don Schain is a hero to us because of the films he brings here."
Schain is the line producer for "Buffalo Dreams," responsible for day-to-day details.
"I try to bring in at least three films a year," Schain said.
"I came here in 1991 after 20 years in L.A., and I decided to stay. I mean, look at this state. I hate to state the obvious, but within an hour either direction, you've got beautiful mountains, lake valleys, red rock in Heber -- and I'm not even talking about southern Utah yet."
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)