SHOOTING ON LOCATION: COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE'S EXCITING (AND LUCRATIVE) ROLE IN FILM AND TELEVISION.

Author:Beers, Heather
 
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When Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks' characters finally unite in Sleepless in Seattle, the beloved 90s rom-com moment takes place atop the iconic Empire State Building. Some of Tom Cruise's most harrowing stunts as Mission Impossible's Ethan Hunt take place on skyscrapers like Dubai's Burj Khalifa and Shanghai's Jin Mao Tower or climbing Dead Horse Point in Utah.

Whether in a starring role or part of the supporting cast, commercial real estate plays an important part in cinema. Especially in Utah's thriving film scene where local properties have had notable roles in over 1,000 movies, television productions and advertisements, according to the Utah Film Commission. The film industry's symbiotic relationship with the commercial real estate market has even brought additional revenue streams and notoriety to Utah.

COME FOR THE VIEWS, STAY FOR THE LOCATION

From 1940s John Ford westerns to HBO's current series, Westworld, which is heavily dependent on Utah's iconic scenery, Utah's vistas have long been famous as a cinematic backdrop. Jeff Johnson, a Utah-based casting director, indicates the natural landscape maybe an initial draw, but filmmakers quickly learn that Utah offers much more. "Filmmakers come here wanting the southern Utah look or the mountains," says Johnson. "Then they find out they've got a city, small towns--there's an all-encompassing diversity for filming in Utah you can't get anywhere else."

Marshall Moore, vice president of operations and marketing at Park City-based Utah Film Studios, affirms that Utah fills a variety of filmmaking needs. Prior to his role at Utah Film Studios, Moore served as the director of the Utah Film Commission for several years.

He points out that towns like Magna have become a kind of "backlot for Salt Lake City." With a population of nearly 25,000, Magna is just 15 minutes from downtown. At its center is a classic main street with storefronts that have been tailored for productions as different as the sunshine-bright Disney series Andi Mack, and Ian McShane's bleak cartel thriller, The Hollow Point.

Documentary filmmakers also find Utah's places and landscapes ideal for storytelling, including the recently released Hunt for the Skinwalker, documentary filmed at the infamous Skinwalker Ranch near Vernal.

Downtown Salt Lake is also an in demand location, according to Derek Melius, production manager at the Utah Film Commission, with spots like 222 Main as a go-to location for interior shots of a modern office...

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