SALT LAKE CITY — So you think you could buff up the PR of the good, ol' Beehive State?
The state Film Commission is offering a chance to put your image on a marketing plan and win $1,500, plus 2011 Sundance Film Festival credentials.
The Eighth Annual "Spot On" Commercial Contest is open to all Utah residents who are willing to produce and direct a 30-second "spot" to market Utah as the right location for TV series and movie productions.
The contest is free to enter, and selected commercials will be aired on Park City Television during Sundance (Jan. 20-30, 2011), the annual Park City-based showcase for independent movies and documentaries that draws about 40,000 film buffs, producers and directors.
The Utah landscape has a long history of being in the movies and TV, playing everything from the Old West to the biblical wilderness to, most recently, the planet Mars. Utah's geological gifts are no secret to the film and television industry, movie producer John Kelly said last week. What isn't as well-known is the skill level of crew people in Utah, many of whom have moved from Hollywood, adding to the increasing know-how in Utah for what it takes to make a movie.
"That's still not enough," Kelly said, noting that other states with half the beauty and half the crew skill level are making up for those deficits with much bigger tax incentives to movie makers.
Tax breaks are a fact of life for budget-conscious television and movie producers, Kelly said, adding that New Mexico and Arizona recently landed huge projects because they got better deals on taxes.
Tax incentives are a part of the mix of marketing Utah to the film industry, and it is ultimately up to lawmakers to decide whether to increase those incentives when they meet in general session this January.
Those entering the contest can take any approach they like, said commission director Marshall Moore, but they must be creatively original and generally illustrate to filmmakers that Utah is an ideal destination for any type of film production.
Entrants may submit up to four commercial spots — individual or campaign style. Their efforts will be judged by an independent group of industry professionals with backgrounds in film and advertising. An award for entrants 18 and younger also will be selected.
Winners will be announced in December.
Past winners can be viewed on the Utah Film Commission YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/UTFILMCOMMISSION.