What a summer it was for Utah, what with all the warring American Indian tribes, killer insects, exploding funeral processions and car chases and gun battles galore.
Wait a minute, you don't remember any of this happening? Then chances are you weren't on the set for the dozen or so motion picture and television projects that were filming throughout the state during the summer. Among the obvious highlights were:- Screen veterans Dennis Hopper, Debbie Reynolds and Mickey Rooney acting in three separate cinematic projects - "Meet the Deedles," "Zack and Reba" and "The Face on the Barroom Floor," respectively.
- Parts of the Wasatch National Forest being transformed into an American Indian village for local director Lyman Dayton's embattled "Wind River" feature film project.
- Hordes of ravenous, man-eating ants ascending the high Uintas to a town for the made-for-TV film "Marabunta."
- Car chases, gun battles and other action stunts that were part of "Ten," an east Indian action film.
And that was just the start.
Suzanne Somers and Timothy Hutton starred in made-for-TV projects - Somers in the USA Network film "No Laughing Matter" and Hutton in the ABC-TV film "Midnight Man."
And both the "Promised Land" and "Touched By An Angel" television series continued to shoot episodes in Salt Lake City and other Wasatch Front locations.
In fact, during the past fiscal year, which ended in June, Utah brought in $132 million from film and television projects shot locally - almost doubling the total from the previous year. And officials from the Utah Film Commission say things could be even busier this year.
"Utah is in a really strong position in the industry right now," said Lawrence Smith, the commission's producer services director. "We're fortunate to be capitalizing on a strong history of involvement with motion pictures and television."
According to Smith, filmmakers who have shot in Utah have raved about the state's location diversity, the friendliness of the residents and professional attitude of local crews, which brings in even more projects.
"We also do a lot of repeat business," he said. "You have producers like Dale Pollock coming back for subsequent movies." (Pollock, who produced "Meet the Deedles," also brought "A Midnight Clear" and "A Home of Our Own" to Utah for filming.)
And the effect of having two high-profile television series - "Touched By An Angel" and "Promised Land" - filming in the state doesn't hurt either.
"You have millions of people watching those shows each week, which includes directors and production companies. So we're very visible," Smith said.