Film and television production in Utah had an economic impact of $125.8 million in fiscal 1998, down 4.69 percent from the previous year.

But that's not bad compared to most states, said Leigh von der Esch, executive director Utah Film Commission.In a year where many states had a big drop in location production, due to the number of shoots now being done in Canada and the overall cutback on studio projects, Von der Esch said the commission "feels gratified that its production level has been essentially maintained."

Film and TV production in Utah during fiscal '98 included all or part of 17 feature films, eight TV movies, two network series (27 episodes of "Touched By An Angel" and 23 episodes of "Promised Land"), two new series pilot shows, 13 miniseries or portions of network series, and 97 commercials, stills, videos, documentaries and catalogs.

Von der Esch said the two TV series serve as a training ground for local people who want to get into the film industry. "Over the past decade, the commission has seen the use of local crew and talent accelerate to almost 90 percent of any major shoot."